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Farming Connect support helps food system initiative trial legume production

A pioneering food system development initiative in Carmarthenshire is teaming up with Farming Connect to learn how different varieties of legumes and grains can be grown in the county and processed for local consumption.

Under the umbrella of a Farming Connect focus farm project, field-scale legume production is being trialled at Bremenda Isaf Farm, a 40-hectare County Council-owned holding at Llanarthne.

Here, the Bwyd Sir Gâr Food partnership is growing food for public sector procurement, including supply to schools and care homes.

The local food partnership’s Food Systems Development Project, led by Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC), is driven by a vision to create a thriving, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient county-wide food system and hopes to establish templates that use climate friendly, low carbon methods for field-scale food production.

As part of this ambition, it is being supported by Farming Connect to trial techniques for growing legumes.

Alex Cook, CCC Food Development Officer, says drilling will begin in March on two acres of land that historical research has shown were used for growing arable crops as far back as the 1840s.

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The partnership is delighted to have the support of Farming Connect to help drive the project forward.

“Horticulture is only a very small percentage of the farming industry within Carmarthenshire, we see a real value in bridging the knowledge gap that exists,’’ says Mr Cook.

Experts will advise on method and best practise during the trial.

Identifying a supply chain for the crop, including public, private and community sectors, is another key objective, with training days for farmers to inform their own possible diversification into growing for the local market.

“This comes at a pivotal time for Welsh agriculture,’’ says Mr Cook. “We know change is coming and that might mean change to the way some farms produce food and opportunities to fill gaps that exist in the market.

“For example, much of the legumes used in school meals in Carmarthenshire are not UK-grown so there is potential to grow that market to reduce food miles and bring financial benefits to the local economy.’’

One of the barriers in the horticulture sector is finding routes to market that benefit both the farmer and the consumer.

Hannah Norman, Farming Connect horticulture sector officer, says there is huge opportunity within public procurement to support local food production for local people.

“We look forward to seeing this project explore a potential new market for farmers and growers in Wales,’’ she says.

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