This article was originally published on the Imagine! website – read it here

Beth Bell of Belfast Sustainable Food Partnership talks about the upcoming ‘Belfast Food Stories’ event at Imagine! 2024.

Join us to listen, connect and share your food story. Help us map what’s good about food in Belfast and we’ll co-create a vibrant, genuine visual of food in the city. We’re running an event as part of the Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics because we believe that hearing and sharing people’s food stories and histories are a necessity if we want to transform the food system into one that works for everyone. So we’re asking, ‘what’s good about food in your neighbourhood?’. Where are the great places to eat using local produce, who is paying a real living wage and where are the greengrocers located? Who is growing food in the city and where?

The event is on Saturday 23 March at noon in 2 Royal Avenue, Belfast, and it’s free! You can find out more here

It’s a bit much to claim that if ‘we fix food, we fix everything’. But only a little bit too much. There’s truth in there. The food system intersects with health, education, labour rights, housing, hospitality, land justice and so much more besides. And food is more than just food. It is nourishment, culture, joy, history, community.

This is why we have re-established the Belfast Sustainable Food Partnership, a dynamic collective of diverse organisations with expertise in design, food ethics, growing, farming, tourism, civic power and hospitality. In 2023 we started working together to build a food system in Belfast that is resilient, kind and fair to people, planet and animals. A food system which enables everyone in Belfast to have equitable access to nutrient rich, affordable food and creates conditions for a strong, fair local economy for all.

We want to forge better links between those who produce local sustainable food and those who want to access it, between those that have land that could be used for growing and those that are keen to utilise it. We can make such a difference in the food system if we work together.

But it can’t just be us sitting in meeting rooms talking to each other. We need to be out and about, seeing, hearing and learning about the reality of life and work in our communities. That’s why we’re thrilled to be part of the Imagine! Festival, when we come together to discuss Belfast Food Stories.

We need a deeper and more diverse understanding of what food means to Belfast. To capture the real lived experiences, beyond the numbers and data, we need to hear from Belfast folk themselves. This event will centre local stories of food in the city, and will also inspire and energise everyone to come together to grow more, talk more, cook more and share more so we can collectively, inclusively build a sustainable food city.

We’ll hear from citizens from across the city, with different stories to tell including:

  • Biruk Sahle, Hahu Organics, who will demonstrate growing your own food using no-dig gardening in small spaces.
  • Louise Ferguson, The Larder Belfast, who will talk about food and justice and how there’s enough for everyone if we share.
  • Joanne Boal, Rainbow Alley, who will share her experiences of building community and connection through alley gardening.

Food Ethics Council and Brink will steward the session.

We’d love you to join in, and be part of this gathering of people talking, sharing and caring about food. This is just the start.

You can register for the event for free here.