Redirecting The Flow Of Food
Big Issue|Issue 290
Iming Lin and Ashley Newell of FoodFlow demonstrate the importance of linking urban farmers and communities, and keeping the “flow of food” between the two.
Iming Lin And Ashley Newell

When COVID-19 first arrived in South Africa in March, it caused an almost immediate closure of restaurants, schools and feeding schemes. Iming Lin is a farmer at Meuse Farm, Cape Town, who supplies her speciality produce to local restaurants; she lost all her clients, practically overnight.

Farmers can’t just pause their growing and harvesting cycles, and while food was ready to be harvested but had nowhere to go, other communities were facing increasing hunger due to being unable to work. There was a big breakdown in the food-to-fork supply chain and the flow of food needed to be redirected to these communities.

Iming reached out to Ashley Newell because of Ashley’s well-established network and experience in bringing community organisations together to understand and support each other. It was a perfect knowledge combination to spark a great concept; Iming offered networks in restaurants and farming, Ashley in community development.

They then launched FoodFlow, setting out to support 150 families in their local community. They rallied to get harvest bags sponsored by the public and began sourcing bags of fresh food from other local small-scale farmers. Soon this new system became a lifeline for both ends of the food chain, and with growing donations it grew exponentially; within weeks it was supporting farmers and feeding communities across the country.

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