Supporting food supply chain and diverse outlets

Food partnerships are stepping up to support smaller farmers and community gardens, food enterprises and markets, and their workers, especially where these may have been less well supported by national or local policy.

28 May 2020

This section contains a compilation of some of the latest information, advice and guidance to support the local response. For the latest national updates check the Sustain's alliance cronavirus pages. We recognise the importance of sharing how places have overcome barriers and created the guidance and support but please note we can’t verify the guidance produced locally in terms of its safety and you should always refer to the official national guidance.

Keeping food markets open

On Monday 23rd March 2020, the Government clarified that food markets can stay open during the crisis throughout the UK as per Government guidance on staying at home and away from others (section 2, first bullet point) and Government guidance on closing certain businesses and venues. Despite this, food markets are shutting down in many local areas, either because of a lack of capacity to effectively follow Government guidance, or because of reduced customer numbers.

Food markets should remain open as they:

  • Are a source of fresh, healthy, and in many cases organically produced food for the local community, including more affordable and culturally appropriate food.
  • Are a crucial route to market for small local food businesses, many of them operating to exemplary environmental and animal welfare standards.
  • Are able to implement effective social distancing policies with the right support.

The decisions to shut food markets will put significant strain on the already much reduced supply chain capacity – largely through supermarkets – that are now having to supply the country’s needs, where previously food was also provided by restaurants and caterers. Supermarkets cannot be expected to do this and, as documented by recent shortages and limited capacity for new home deliveries.

Guidance for traders has been produced by several industry bodies including: 

Supporting farmers and growers

Farmers are part of our nation's essential food infrastructure, providing our food and supporting jobs and rural communities. We need to help our farmers stay in business.

Read Sustain’s advice on five ways to support our farmers.

Despite Michael Gove’s comments that allotment gardening is allowed during lockdown (The Guardian, 24 March) many community gardens are closing or restricting their operation despite the health and wellbeing benefits that community food growing brings and how important our gardens are for the people that use them. As long as gardens can keep the social distancing rules in place, now more than ever it is critical to keep people and gardens growing as part of longer-term resilience and we know there has been a surge of interest in growing your own.

Visit the Good to Grow website for further guidance for community gardens during Covid-19.

Local examples


  • 3SG and the Sustainable Food Partnership have have collated a list of local food businesses offering delivery and a map of food projects 
  • Bath Farmers market remains open and have imposed 6ft distancing, but many traders also offering an online service





  • The Potato Project has been launched by Slow Food Birmingham and Eat Make Play  to help a local farmer who has potatoes that no longer have a route to market. Locals are asked to buy 10kg bags of potatoes for £10, 8kg of which is donated to the emergency food response. 


  • Feeding Bradford working closely with council emergency planning as they are seen as a key part of council strategy re. Food banks and crisis meal providers for destitute homeless 
  • They are setting up some food collection points for organisations and working with new neighbourhood hubs to see how food can be distributed through new centers – new work that council are calling to Feeding Bradford to assist with  
  • School feeding led by Bradford Council – plan is that school kitchens remain open to feed children probably as takeaways 



  • The Florence Road Market have moved their trading online, the Sustainable Food Trust have written up how they have adapted.
    A website and facebook group aptly entitled ‘Brighton quarantine delivery’ have been built to list all independent food businesses doing delivery 
  • Hangleton and Portslade Mutual Aid group have collaborated with local restaurants and wholesalers (Premier Fruits) to create a new veg box scheme to meet the needs of the community. They plan to expand and are donating profits to Brighton’s Hungry at Home campaign



  • ORFC write up of the formation of the Bristol Food Union to support small independent food businesses.
  • Bristol has launched the social media campaign #BristolFoodKind to highlight the acts of kindness through food in the community during lockdown
  • Wilde has partnered with the Bristol Royal Infirmary to deliver fresh fruit to NHS staff
  • St Werburghs City Farm is delivering ‘windowsill warrior kits’ with compost, seeds and pot to enable people to grow fresh salad and veg at home, as well as ‘home baking hero’ kits 
  • Blaise plants have donated over 3000 veg plugs to various community growers across the city 
  • Windmill Hill City Farm have donated surplus spinach to Square Food Foundation 
  • Bristol Food Network’s Good Food Response to Covid-19 can be found on their website and includes where to go for help, how to support to local food businessses and where to give help alongside inspiring ideas
  • Bristol Food Union is an informal collective of restaurants, food businesses and community organisations that have come together across sectors to ensure Bristol stays fed during Covid-19
  • The Lockdown Economy has been created to keep independent organisations in business 
  • Map of food delivery services in Bristol



  • A new electric cargo bike initiative, Cargodale, has been set up in Todmorden to deliver shopping around the region. Residents order from Tod market before noon or Tod Almighty before 4 and the produce is delivered in the afternoons. They have so far delivered 150 orders. They are also accepting delivery services for small food providers or organisations and plan to expand to Hebden Bridge. 



  • Cambridge Organic are calling on ‘Community Angels’ to help identify those most in need for their fruit & veg deliveries and have stopped new members joining so they can focus on vulnerable members of the community




  • Warwick Bridge Cornmill have started flour production again after almost 30 years and are now supplying local shops with wholemeal stoneground flour.






  • Food Exeter has set up Good Food Exeter, a Community Benefit Society focusing on providing local sustainable food at a fair price in Exeter. All orders will be delivered by producers to a single location, where we will repackage goods in individual orders before customers come to collect them - a mix between food assembly model, veg box and click and collect
  • Emma’s Bread at the Boatyard Bakery and Cafe have partnered up with Shillingford Organics to provide bread in their veg box scheme and have started a bike delivery system via Exeter’s electric cargo bike delivery service, Co-Delivery. Read more.
  • Lockdown Exeter has been built to help connect residents to local businesses 
  • St Sidwells Community Centre is offering a home delivery service of homemade frozen meals, bread and cakes 



  • Feeding Flintshire is a new online directory helping residents during the coronavirus crisis.



  • Locavore has partnered with Freedom bakery, Glasgow Coffee and Mossgiel Fruit and Veg to offer their products in an online shop







  • After the initial closure of Ridley Road Market, Bags of Taste in Hackney have set up a Twitter account @RidleyUpdates to show people that it is open and encourage the public to use and have written to the Mayor of Hackney
  • Growing communities are continuing to trade and have introduced Health and Safety measures, including 2 metre distancing. They have also asked all non-food traders to withdraw
  • Union of Hackney Gardens are sorting seeds for people which are then dropped outside people’s doors to be collected and are offering short gardening video tips on social media



  • Hampshire Fare have set up a website with delivery services in the region, including box schemes, local restaurant delivery, farm shops



  • Trinity market is remaining open for 3 days per week with a few traders taking online/text orders and doing deliveries



  • Incredible Edible Lambeth are about to launch a campaign to encourage neighbours to share seedlings to promote home food growing. Incredible edible will be providing resources (seeds, pots, compost etc.) to 25 households (for the pilot, which will then increase to 100). Seedlings will then be distributed among the community by Father Nature using bikes and milk floats
  • Brixton Pound has joined forces with Platform Cafe in Loughborough Junction to supply pre-prepared meals and grocery deliveries





  • Lincoln Food Partnership has published a new webpage of food delivery options, Lincoln Indie Takeaways in Lincoln and beyond (it includes all food not just cooked meals)
  • A Case Study of how Amy Jobe, beef farmer who is now cooking hot meals and donating to the Serendipity Initiative, based at the Priory Hotel which is now working as a food redistribution centre and providing hot meals twice a day 
  • The Serendipity Project in the Louth area is now working in partnership with three other local restaurants, the Auction House, Boars Head and Woolpack in order to keep up with the demand for meals in the community. As a result, they have renamed, Neighbours Kitchen - a Serendipity Initiative Project 
  • The Greater Lincolnshire LEP is calling on students to work on British Farms with the Student Land Army
  • The Castle Hotel, a family run hotel and restaurant, have started an initiative to provide meals to the NHS on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. They are fundraising here and are seeking other local businesses who are interested in collaborating 
  • Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership are calling for those out of work to get involved in the area’s food and farming workforce
  • Visit Lincoln has compiled a list of local businesses offering home delivery
  • St George’s C of E Community Primary School in Gainsborough has designed a ‘Grab n Go’ food station to feed the school and the local community more. They have painted white lines 2 meters apart on the path to ensure social distancing. Anyone in the community can help themselves to a food package for only £1.00. For local people who are self-isolating, elderly or vulnerable, two ‘school dads’ who are taxi drivers, and several staff, are running a delivery service. Isolators and elders are being identified through the two local churches.  Food parcels are funded out of the school budget and in the first week, over 100 parcels have gone out.




  • On Monday 20th April, the Mayor launched Pay It Forward London, a crowdfunding platform to help businesses to secure trade by pre-selling vouchers, goods and services
  • 6 ways to support good food businesses in London during Covid-19
  • London Farmers Markets are continuing to trade but have called for an increase in volunteer stewards at all markets to police social distancing. They have published the following guidelines
  • Sustain, along with the London Food Board and other market representatives have written a letter to the London Mayor calling for a prioritisation of support for Food Markets to ensure they can stay open and to ensure the Metropolitan Police are aware they are allowed to be trading
  • List of London Mutual Aid Groups
  • Elysia Catering has diversified to become an online sustainable grocery store with home deliveries using a cargo bike
  • Mercato Metropolitano has closed but the grocery is open and they have set up a delivery service. They have partnered with Southwark Council and will be distributing over 1000 packs to vulnerable residents. Mercato Metropolitano is also being set up as the central good distribution hub for emergency food distribution with FareShare and other charities. 
  • Neigbourgoods has launched in London to support local independent food businesses through Covid-19
  • The London Association of City Farms and Community Gardens and Social Farms and Gardens have written to funders and government, calling for more support and access to the equivalent Small Business Grants for community organisations. Please contact for more information
  • The London Growth Hub has launched a new portal to support London-based businesses and employers to manage and mitigate their exposure to COVID-19. The portal includes factsheets, guides, information on Government support and the option to book business advisor appointments for one to one support
  • Live Local - London local independent food businesses still operating 
  • Organiclea Community Growers have just opened an online shop for veg plant boxes, including green waste compost, for delivery around East London


  • Community garden Penrose Roots have increased the amount of land they are growing on (granted by the council) so they can increase the amount of food being grown to be distributed to local charities working on the emergency good response. 
  • Edible High Town and Round Green Gardeners are carrying on with growing but are attending sites individually. Covid safety guidelines have been put up at all the sites.


  • The Alchemic Kitchen, Manchester Urban Diggers and Feedback gleaned 800 cauliflowers and 1.5 tonnes of beetroot from a packhouse that would have otherwise gone to waste to help feed vulnerable groups
  • The Alchemic kitchen and other community groups are trying to set up a fresh fruit and veg box for those who need it with the aim to fund it for those who cannot afford



  • New community project, Planna Fwyd, in Dyfi Valley is organising a variety of food production initiatives via Zoom, including lessons for first time crop growers and sending out seeds to families so they can grow their own. The group also plans to organise a land army of volunteers to work on farms. The community project was born after the existing community groups, Mach Maethlon, joined forces with a local mutual aid group to combat food shortages.



  • Grainger Market has launched a new delivery service. The Council have allocated drivers and vehicles and have assisted with the administration 
  • A crowdfunder has been set up to allow locals to ‘prepay’ for meals at local food businesses to help them weather the Covid-19 crisis



  • Claire Watson-Laney, of Northumberland Sausage Company, has set up the North East Food Collaborative, of local food producers and retailers now providing delivery services.  
  • Northumberland Sausage Company in North Tyne Valley has transformed into a general food shop, selling lots of local produce.
  • Hallsford Farm Produce have just installed a catering kitchen to make produce from their meat (e.g pies). They now do online orders, offer national and regional delivery of both their own produce and other local Cumbria producers.


  • Around half of traders at Hexham market (which is now closed) are now trading online
  • Bread and Roses in Alnwick, on of Sustains’ Real Bread Campaign Ambassadors, has moved to a pre-order and pre-pay system with allotted time periods for customers to come and collect their orders



  • Norwich FarmShare now has a team of 7 packers to deliver all 140 shares which are then delivered using the bike couriers, Zedify. Pre-Covid-19, veg was collected and weighed by members at Wensum Sports centre so they have had to completely change their model to adapt to new social distancing measures.



  • Good Food Oxford have now mapped more than 85 community food providers and more than 15,000 people have accessed the map since March 2020
  • The community markets have worked hard to establish safe practices to remain open during the crisis. East Oxford and South Oxford markets have moved outdoors and safe distancing practices have been implemented. East Oxford Farmers Market successfully implemented a crowd control system, more info here. Headington market is moving online.
  • Oxford Council sent a practical infection control guidance pack to markets
  • Wolvercote market has moved to a pre-order and pick up system, accepting contactless payments only and considering setting up delivery 
  • Good Food Oxford have written a blog to keep the community up to date with what is going on locally 
  • Community cafes Waste2Taste , Flo’s Café and Sandford Talking Shop that initially closed are now reopening with new delivery and takeaway models
  • Bitten Oxford have compiled a list of local food businesses offering delivery services



  • Sauced Here was created as a version of an online supermarket with products sourced from local producers and suppliers. All delivery costs have been scrapped amidst Covid-19 to support local supply chains and help more people access food.





  • Food for Families are allowing small numbers of registered volunteers back to onto their growing sites to increase growing opportunities and are hoping to set up a seed growing kit delivery project





  • Wallington Farmers’ Market has closed but the online traders have been listed here
  • Sutton Community Farm are offering their Medium Veg Boxes at a highly discounted rate, which can be donated to the food bank





  • Tower Hamlets Food Partnership have collated their own digest for what’s going on in the area, including access to food, donations, markets and shops and offers of support and a  list of local food businesses you deliver on their website
  • Tower Hamlets are focussing on keeping markets open (traders accept Rose vouchers for fruit and veg, so especially important)