Cotswolds Choice gets the 'thumbs up'

Local farmers, food producers and retailers have given a resounding ‘thumbs up’ to the ‘Cotswolds Choice’ initiative at a recent workshop organised by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Cotswolds Choice is a new ‘environmental quality’ brand aimed at promoting landscape-friendly local produce and products in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The workshop, held at the Forest Green Rovers stadium, assembled some thirty key people involved in the local food economy and community around Stroud – an area which has a strong association with locally produced food and drink. Following the workshop, all participants agreed that the scheme was on track to be a successful one which would bring many benefits to the area.

After the workshop, Colin Downey, NFU Gloucestershire County Adviser said: “I am pleased to see the Cotswolds Choice scheme starting to forge ahead. We had a good meeting, with lots of consensus about the best way forward.”

Liz Godsell of Godsell’s Cheeses said: “Local people who want to buy local food and drink will soon find it much easier to buy the products they want from local farms and local producers.”

Cllr Geoff Wheeler, Leader of Stroud District Council, said: “Cotswolds Choice is exactly the sort of activity that the Stroud District Council’s Food Grants 2014 was set up for. It will support and promote the food economy in the Stroud area, and help to reduce food miles and improve food traceability.

Stephen Aiano, who is leading the scheme: said: “It has been marvellous how much effort everyone at the workshop put in to ensuring that the Cotswolds Choice scheme will reflect the needs and interests of everyone – producers, retails and consumers alike. We shall all do our best to ensure a fantastic win-win outcome from this endeavour. Cotswolds Choice will be good for farmers, good for shops, good for the environment and good for local people.”

The Cotswolds Choice brand will recognise the high standards of environmental and landscape management for which farmers and landowners in the Cotswolds AONB are renowned, and will help consumers to choose and support foods and products that are so much a part of what makes the area special.

With generous assistance from the Stroud District Council’s Food Grants 2014, the Cotswolds Choice scheme is being piloted initially in the Stroud area, with the aim of rolling the scheme out across the whole of the Cotswolds.

Anyone interested in finding out more about Cotswolds Choice can contact Stephen Aiano on email: info@rural.support or telephone: 07798 645666.
ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members - 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk
  • Over 300 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens dedicate thousands of hours of practical conservation work every year across the AONB, as well as lead an annual programme of guided walks and undertake a range of promotional and educational work.