Belfast Food Network (soon to be nourish NI) is a third sector organisation working to influence the food system in Northern Ireland to ensure everyone has access to healthy and sustainable food. It is hosted by the Northern Ireland Environment Link. BFN is a small and highly motivated team advocating for a sustainable food and farming systems through delivery of a number of programmes (many as part of UK partnerships) across Northern Ireland. These include Food for Life Get Togethers, Peas Please, Sustainable Food Places, Sustainable Fish Cities and Food Power. BFN is a bronze member of Sustainable food places and has helped to support more groups across Northern Ireland to affiliate with the scheme, to strengthen the voice to embed the core values of sustainable food across the country.
BFN provided 27 emergency grants to small-scale producers across NI to help them adapt their business models to meet an increase in local demand starting during the pandemic, but in time it has created a new network that will be developing a more cohesive voice for the small sustainable food producers across the country.
We would like to use our page to highlight some of the recipients of these grants.
A restaurant in Belfast City Centre which only serves sustainably caught seafood. They are gold members of the Marine Conservation Society and the first to sign the NI sustainable fish cities pledge. As well as running the restaurant they also host school groups to introduce them to ocean life conservation and get them to taste some of the fish.
Helens bay organic farm
Set up by John McCormick, an expert on soil health and organic agricultural practises, Helens bay is a farm in Ards and North Down. They sell veg boxes from the farm, online and at markets. They help to introduce more people to locally grown fresh vegetables and can be used as a model that organic agriculture is profitable in Northern Ireland, and that organic agriculture can be used to solve the biodiversity crash and climate crisis.
Joe the baker
Joe is a baker in Enniskillen, who started his bakery as a way to nourish his community, his sourdough, pastrys and loaves are very popular in Enniskillen, he has a stall open every Saturday and uses it as an opportunity to make connections in his community bringing people together, so people can see the value of food. He uses organic flours and traditional techniques with the support of local producers.
Belfast food co op
The co-ops main aim is to create a viable alternative to how we shop for groceries today, selling organic foods at more accessible prices making them more available to a wider range of people. The movement is growing as the stall at womans TEC in North Belfast is gaining popularity.