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CAT Stories – Aber Food Surplus

CAT Stories – Aber Food Surplus

Home » CAT Stories – Aber Food Surplus

Aber Food Surplus was co-founded by CAT graduate Chris Woodfield, and at our recent CAT Graduate symposium he joined a panel group to share advice based on his journey. He shares his inspiring story with us.

Aber Food Surplus has gone from strength to strength since you started it in 2017 – what are you most proud of?

Being a voice for environmental and community action in the local area. Getting to a position where we were able to employ more team members and provide meaningful, graduate-level employment in the area, whilst also ensuring we prioritise wellbeing. For example, we have a maximum 4-day work week, because we value resilience and ensuring people can have diversity in their lives and explore other things. I feel this enables people to bring their best selves to work and life.

Also, we have another core member of the team who also studied at CAT, Laura Cooper, who studied MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources!

Chris Woodfield (right) receiving a Menter award
Chris Woodfield (right) receiving an award

You graduated from CAT with an MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation in 2017. What were your highlights of studying at CAT, and how has this helped shape the project or your thinking?

CAT was great to meet like-minded individuals, share stories, and bounce ideas around about the positive changes we would like to see in the world.

It was rewarding to learn and study in a beautiful place whilst also connecting with other disciplines in an immersive way. For example, sharing food and connecting with a range of different students of all ages, backgrounds and subject areas, e.g. the merging of architects, construction professionals, biologists, geographers, social scientists, and more was a real highlight. Having this sense of collaboration and embracing different perspectives whilst also embracing complexity and uncertainty has been a key learning to take forward into Aber Food Surplus.

This, combined with taking a systems thinking view and looking at the whole system (e.g. the food system, rather than a single issue, such as food waste) has been really valuable and has enabled more positive impact to flourish.

What is your advice to anyone thinking of starting up or getting involved in a community food project?

Be bold and ambitious. The best time to start is now. If you have a creative, compassionate and collaborative mindset then anything is possible.

People tend to be drawn to beautiful things — there’s a famous Buckminster Fuller quote: “When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. However, when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong”. I always think about this and try to make sure beauty is at the heart of what we do.

What’s next for you and for Aber Food Surplus?

Continuing to be bold and push for radical change in a proactive and compassionate way. We are just about to move to a bigger, town-centre location to have more space to facilitate climate and food action, run more events and workshops, host community meals and a whole host of other community action, which is exciting. This new space will enable us to realise more of our potential and open up new opportunities for collaboration and financial self-resilience as an organisation.

We are keen to focus on facilitating a thriving and flourishing food system in a solutions-focused way, and engage people with all parts of the food system, from seeds, to compost, to growing food, food skills, sharing, cooking and eating food, and of course, not wasting food! Watch this space. We’re always open for a chat and happy to hear any ideas, please do get in touch!

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