The Totnes Food Link Project

What's it all about?

Please note: this is no longer an active project. Please visit the Totnes 10 project website to see how Food-Link evolved!

Get involved

The Totnes Food-Link project seeks to strengthen the links between local producers (within a 30 mile radius of the town), and retailers and restaurants within the town, building confidence and loyalty between both parties. We are always looking for new volunteers to get involved with all areas of the project.

The project was previously coordinated by Holly Tiffen, who has now moved on to manage Grown In Totnes. Food-Link is now being managed by Myrtle Cooper who is building on the strong networks developed over the past few years, to bring together local farmers, food processors and retailers to strengthen local food business connections, creating a stronger enabling environment for local food to be traded in our community.

Visit the new Totnes10 website to see how Food-Link has evolved and changed it's name!

£30 million is spent annually on  food and drink, of which just one third is spent in the 60+  vibrant independent food shops in and around Totnes. By encouraging people to shift juts 10% of their weekly food spent to independent food shops we could bring £2 million to boost our local economy.

So moving forwards the Food-Link will be running a campaign in partnership with Grown in Totnes to encourage people in and around Totnes to shift a small proportion of their weekly food spend to local independent food shops and product. We'll be running a creative, visual and engaging series of events and activities locally.

If you are interested in getting involved in any part of the Food-Link projects please get in touch with Myrtle  – 01803 867358 or email

History of the project:

From 2011-2012 Food-Link explored the key challenges to the development of a re-localised food economy within the local food sector, these included:

  • Time spent growing and producing food is reduced because of the competing need to spend time distributing and marketing produce
  • Retailers and restaurateurs interested in purchasing local food have limited time and resources to spend finding multiple small suppliers and dealing with the resulting number of separate invoices. The paperwork that producers have to deal with by having multiple, generally small-scale customers, is also a burden on farmers. The inability of small scale producers to be able to respond to the last-minute demands of restaurauteurs
  • Limitations of the English climate to provide fresh produce all year round
  • A lack of awareness and means of easy identification of where to source local food from reduces people's ability to make informed choices

The Food-Link project has worked on finding suitable solutions to these challenges and is exploring development of the following projects:

  • A retail and wholesale Food Hub to provide a one-stop-shop for members of the public and the retailers to access the range of local produce available in the area
  • Marketing to promote local food and provide a story behind the produce, plus a Totnes label that simply and clearly identifies primary and secondary produce that are produced and sourced within 30 miles of the town. The development of a Saturday Local Produce Market
  • In partnership with the proposed Atmos Project, exploring demand for different community owned processing facilities that will enable Totnes to provide foods out of season and create greater autonomy in the town.
  • The development of a centralised distribution hub, where local food can be stored prior to being distributed to retailers around the town

In order to take this work forward the following activities and skills were identified as priorities:

1. Crop Gaps Analysis

What do we need to know?

  •   What produce is not widely available in this area that there is a demand for
  •   What varieties may be suitable for production in the Totnes area
  •   Who has knowledge and experience of growing these products and what the restrictions are to their wider application
  •   What further trials need to be carried out

What do we need to do?

  •   Identify what other research and initiatives have been done or  exist
  •   Work with end-markets and producers to establish where the gaps are
  •   Work with local growers who have experience of growing these products
  •   Research in to trials and examples of local growing
  •   Work with producers to identify suitable sites to develop trials
  •   Monitor and assess the outcomes of the trials
  •   Research in to other examples around the country and locally
  •   Explore opportunities for linking in with academic bodies

Crop Gaps Report

2. Demand for Processing facilities

What do we need to know?

  •   What produce is suitable for processing and would be available in sufficient quantities
  •   What is the demand for different processing facilities
  •   What are the capacity requirements and specific infrastructure required

What do we need to do?

  •   Work with producers to identify gluts and wastage as well as potential expansion of growing capacity
  •   Work with existing processors to establish demand and capacity requirements
  •   Work with entrepreneurs to establish interest in business development around processing
  •   Identify examples of other cooperative processing facilities and best practice

3. Develop the concept of a wholesale version of the food hub

What do we need to know?

  • Has this been done before?  If so how
  • Are there examples of restaurants cafes paying in advance for local produce ie wholesale CSA schemes?
  • Whether restaurants/cafes can specify what they would like produced locally
  • Whether restaurants/cafes would be prepared to pay up front for local produce if delivery was provided
  • What quantities of produce types would be required and how frequently

What do we need to do?

  •  Research in to other examples around the country
  •  Discuss with restaurants and producers the feasibility of various models
  •  Collate data from restaurants and cafes as to the quantities of produce required
  •  Work with producers to establish if they have the capacity to produce to the demand of restaurants