BUDE saw its first ever “Climathon”on Wednesday, May 25, with participants gathering at The Falcon Hotel to discuss how food, farming and land use can help achieve net zero.

Over the course of the day, participants got into teams to develop climate solutions for the local community.The event was co-organised by a team of researchers from the University of Gloucestershire’s Countryside and Community Research Institute, and local partners including the Farm Net Zero project at Duchy College, Bude Climate Partnership, and Westcountry Rivers Trust. Participants began the day by agreeing some ground rules, including principles like “Bring in a farmer’s perspective”, and of course “Be kind”.

After an intense morning of brainstorming and choosing priority areas to work on, there were two enthusiastic teams with different solutions to develop.A walk and site visit led by Simon Browning from Westcountry Rivers Trust helped keep everyone energised after lunch, and demonstrated some of the challenges presented by sea level rise. We also sampled the famous “Three Mile Loaf”at Electric Bakery, where co-founder Alex Bluett explained their focus on heritage grains; and visited Neetfield Market Garden where partners Rosie and Tom grow fruit and vegetables for the local community.

Inspired by the walk and seeing these examples of sustainable food initiatives, teams then worked intensively to figure out the “Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How”of their solution, and by late afternoon were ready to present their ideas.“Bude Chain”were keen to promote peer to peer learning on net zero solutions –proposing a project that would link farmers with local retail and hospitality actors sharing an interest in sustainable practices. Through on-farm events partly inspired by the “Farmer Field School”approach, they planned for food producers to take the lead on growing a climate-friendly local food system.

Meanwhile, “Diversify Bude”proposed a framework for increasing the resilience of Bude’s local food system by diversifying land use. They would start by engaging with local food producers to assess their needs, with the goal of becoming an exemplar for how coastal communities can re-localise their food system. In terms of funding, they suggested applying for grants and exploring community-funded models; inspired by the community supported agriculture (CSA) approach. CSA is “a partnership between farmers and consumers in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared”.

“The Bude Climathon was an excellent opportunity to develop ideas and discuss Net Zero from the different perspectives of the people involved,”said Alex Bebbington, Farm Net Zero Project Officer.The research team at University of Gloucestershire also organised a Climathon earlier in May in the Eden Valley, Cumbria, and have invited participants to a webinar later this month where both communities can share their ideas, experiences, and future ambitions.

Viewing a “digital story”created with a local farmer.
Viewing a “digital story”created with a local farmer. (Picture: Damian Maye)