Bristol’s bid to become a Gold Sustainable Food City

Through collective action, Greenhouse’s home Bristol is aiming to become a Gold Sustainable Food City. As one of only four cities to achieve Silver status, Bristol has already shown that it has what it takes to make sustainable food part of its identity. To achieve this, individuals, organisations and policy makers have come together as Bristol Going for Gold.

Six months in, Bristol-based food writer and producer Ramona Andrews looks back at the progress made so far and what’s needed to make it a success.

Climate strikes that took place across the country in the past months have shown how many UK citizens are frustrated at the pace of action on climate change from national government and corporations. One consequence of these failings is that cities are becoming a potential space for resolution and real action. We are seeing cities (and the citizens, organisations and many of the businesses that make up the networks within them) as a focal point for change around sustainable food. Here in Bristol, there is increasing acceptance that having a good food system – good for people and planet – is at the heart of tackling the climate emergency as a city.

In 2016, Bristol became only the second city to win a Silver Sustainable Food Cities Award – a national scheme celebrating cities making positive changes to their food system. Now the city is Going for Gold and calling on everyone in Bristol to take action to change food for good. We have until the end of 2020 to prove that Bristol has what it takes to be a Gold Sustainable Food City, and everyone in the city has a part to play.

Going for Gold is an unprecedented collaborative campaign calling on individuals, organisations and policy makers to take real action across six key themes that will transform our food system and help address the climate emergency. These are Community Action, Urban Growing, Eating Better, Buying Better, Food Waste and Food Equality.

The Going for Gold website provides inspiration for change, and a way to pledge and record actions that will build a picture of how Bristol is transforming. The idea is that together, all these small actions will add up to big change – helping to create a fairer food system in Bristol that’s good for people, the planet, and the whole city. Meanwhile major work will take place to tackle two areas of excellence – Food Waste and Procurement (how food and catering contracts are sourced and purchased).

2018 was an important year for food activity in the city. Bristol signed up to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, committing to the development of an equitable and sustainable food system along with many other cities around the world. In the same year, Bristol City Council adopted the Good Food Procurement Standards that require all food and catering contractors follow the Soil Association’s Food For Life Served Here accreditation or the Bristol Eating Better Award scheme.

The Mayor has made it a priority to reduce food poverty and has included food under several of the One City Plans. Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig has written about this on the Mayor’s blog. On 14 November we hosted a Going For Gold conference for organisations who procure, buy or source food. The event looked at procurement within the framework of the climate and biodiversity crisis. There is much work to be done.

It has now been six months since Bristol launched its bid to be a Gold Sustainable Food City, an ambition to bring the whole city together to change food for good. From organisations switching to caterers that source local food to Meat Free Mondays introduced at all catered halls at the University of Bristol, we’ve seen fantastic progress. Find out more about the actions taken by people and organisations in our recent blog.

In this campaign our greatest challenge is making sure we reach not just some, but every citizen and every organisation in Bristol, encouraging them to make the call for a fairer, more sustainable and accessible food system their own. We’re asking Bristol-based individuals and organisations to register on the website to tell us what you’re doing already and to look for inspiration for what you can do next. Please register now and tell your friends and colleagues.

Greenhouse PR works with organisations and leaders who are pioneering climate action. Whether it’s food, fashion, finance or farming, if you’ve got a great story and need our help to tell it, get in touch with the Greenhouse team on 0117 214 1250 or email