A new initiative to highlight the merits of buying local has been launched in Exmoor National Park. The National Park Authority and Visit Exmoor are working together to support local producers and promote how the fine produce sustainably grown, reared and prepared within Greater Exmoor benefits the landscape and its communities.
Signs making it easier for shoppers to identify local produce are being proudly displayed in stores to shine a light on the region’s producers and how buying local benefits the environment, while delivering food that is more tasty, nutritious and sustainable.
Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Despite their wild appearance, Exmoor’s landscapes have been shaped by human interaction with nature over thousands of years. Many local producers here are small-scale farmers championing low-impact approaches that work with, not against nature. Much of the livestock is grass-fed, making our local lamb and beef tastier and healthier, as well as more sustainable. With fewer food miles and in turn less packaging, switching to local produce can help reduce your carbon and plastic footprint, whilst supporting our rural communities.”
The Exmoor Hill Farming Network, Edible Exmoor (www.edibleexmoor.co.uk) plus numerous local shops and retailers have already got behind the campaign, with Wheddon Cross Central Convenience Store and Roadwater Community Shop among the first to display the new branding.
Tony Howard, proprietor of The Village Shop and Tea Rooms at Withypool, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support this initiative by the National Park. As well as selling to those visiting the area, we have a strong and loyal customer base who are always pleased to support local producers, but more can be done, and highlighting Exmoor produce in this way is a step in the right direction.”
Sarah Campbell at Timberscombe Post Office and Store said: “There’s already been a really positive response to the new promotional material in our shop. I’m sure it will make our customers think carefully and more likely to choose local produce.”
In December, grass-fed Exmoor lamb was the winner at blind-tasting event at Woods restaurant in Dulverton. Emma Thomasson from Visit Exmoor, who supported the event, said: “When visitors come to the area, experiencing the finest seasonal food and drink can be a big part of their cultural adventure, connecting them with the landscape they see around them and helping create memorable experiences.
“Joining the dots of where our food comes from is an important way of deepening people’s understanding and kindling a life-long love of the area sure to keep them returning. With locally-produced meats, fresh, seasonal fruit and veg, artisan breads, sweet treat confectionery and award-winning gin and cider all on offer, it’s not hard to see why!”
The ‘Produced in Exmoor’ campaign is part of the wider #EatExmoor project, which aims to support producers, build strong commercial relationships between producers and local businesses and help boost Exmoor’s reputation as a great food destination. Find out more at: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/eat-exmoor