Cambridge Food Hub – an update from Duncan Catchople, project leader for Cambridge Sustainable Food Hub

Sometime, and sometime soon, the global food system is going to change. It has to: climate change and the depletion of natural resources dictate that ‘business as usual’ in our food supply simply cannot continue for much longer. So change is definitely coming, and we are faced with a choice of whether we are going to passively sit and wait for changes to be forced upon us, or whether we are going to embrace that change on our own terms.  But here is a very positive and forward-thinking project that is meeting the challenges in the food system head-on: the Cambridge Sustainable Food Hub.

The vision for the Food Hub is ambitious. This will be a large-scale food distribution and business incubation centre where everything that takes place is at the cutting edge of sustainability. Not only will the very fabric of the building itself be uncompromisingly designed for energy efficiency, water conservation and human wellbeing, the activities and processes that take place within it will also be geared first and foremost towards sustainability. For example, it will include an innovative low-energy cold store, delivery vans will be electric vehicles that charge from photovoltaic cells and the food handled on site will predominantly be sourced from local farms.

The impact the Food Hub intends to have on the city of Cambridge is significant: locally and sustainably produced food featuring more frequently in local restaurants and on the menus of local schools, the city enriched as more food entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to start or expand their businesses.   There will also be the most amazing shop and café for people to visit.  The Food Hub will be the first of its kind in Europe, and as such will be the subject of international interest, as an example of what food distribution systems might look like in the future.  And if you think it all sounds a bit too pie-in-the-sky, it really isn’t: many of these things are already happening at the Cambridge Organic Food Company, a local business that is driving the project forwards.

A major crowd-funding campaign has been launched to raise the necessary funds to build the Sustainable Food Hub. The campaign has got off to a great start, over £13,000 at the time of writing, but there is still a long way to go.  However, the most exciting developments have been the numerous engagements that have occurred; food is such an important part of peoples’ lives and the importance of creating sustainable systems now so widely recognised, it’s no wonder that the project is resonating with many local people and organisations.

The team behind the Food Hub project is appealing to anyone who appreciates the need for a more sustainable food distribution system to support the crowd-funding campaign. There is a very attractive proposition for individuals who support the campaign; in return for a pledge of £100 you will receive a lifetime membership as a ‘Friend of the Food Hub’. This will, among other things, entitle you to a ten per cent saving on all purchases from the Food Hub (including home delivery and in the café). It’s an investment that will pay for itself many times over, and go towards creating something truly beneficial for the people of Cambridge at the same time.

Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!  Of course, a pledge of any amount will be gratefully received. Even a pledge of few pounds would make a difference, because demonstrating that the project has public support is just as important as the total amount of money raised.  Any pledges for amounts other than £100 will go towards the ‘Good Food For All’ fund, which will help tackle food poverty in our city by providing local low-income families with a sponsored ‘Friend of the Food Hub’ membership.

The Food Hub team have made a short film to convey the vision for the Food Hub, featuring the CRT’s own Kenny Mackay. To watch the film, or to make a pledge, visit www.cambridgefoodhub.uk

Duncan Catchpole