The Assemblies: Fair & Local
Anna Blightman is Marketing Manager for The Assemblies in Bristol. The Assemblies is a collection of three well-known, independent venues in Bristol—The Canteen, No 1 Harbourside and Old Market Assembly—championing local, seasonally and sustainably sourced food and drink.
The huge variety of products, pricing and possibilities available to anyone in the hospitality trade is simply mind-boggling. Proud members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, The Assemblies’ commitment to local, fair, sustainable and ethical sourcing is paramount to our business. As a group of venues, we hold a triple bottom line approach to everything we do… People, Planet and Profit. No one of these things can be regarded as above or beyond the other, and every business decision is made with each of these in mind. This is where Fair Trade comes in, encompassing all aspects of this.
In a nutshell, our sourcing fits within the ‘slow food’ motto of being “good, clean and fair”. This means good in quality and taste, clean and safe for the environment as well as for human consumption, and fair in terms of the effect its production has on people, their treatment, and well-being. Fair food and drink helps address the injustices of conventional trade, which discriminates against the poorest producers.
We relish the trend of understanding more about provenance, sourcing, fair trade and ethical farming. From the very beginning we have made a point of knowing our suppliers and farmers names, building strong relationships with them and collaboratively working with them to ensure everyone gets the best deal.
For those products we can get in the UK - where Fair Trade certification won't apply - we prioritise organic where possible to safeguard the environment and short, local supply chains. We are committed to all our meat, dairy and eggs coming from farms in the South West, and our fish sourced from UK waters. A minimum of 60% of our fresh fruit and vegetables must come from within 50 miles of our venues, and we will always support local where possible. During the summer months all our leaves come from a small farm in Frenchay, delivered to our venues via bike. All our bread products come from our sister bakery, Assembly Bakery, and are delivered fresh every morning! It’s beautiful and so great to be part of the growing food scene in Bristol, where there is a wealth of amazing suppliers right on our doorstep.
And then there’s the booze! Bristol is awash with great independent breweries and distilleries, producing some of the country’s finest tasting spirits, beers and ciders. Our bars are stocked with gins and beers made by friends of ours. Working with local suppliers - in some cases ex-colleagues - means we have a close eye on supply chains and know we can completely trust in fairness and quality. It’s amazing that Bristol’s hospitality scene can help support so many interesting ventures.
The well-being of the people producing the products we source is also an important consideration, and having an active interest in this is vital. We use Fair Trade products when available, particularly our tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate, and we always make a preference for cooperatively run farms and brewers. We are fully aware, through conversation with our suppliers, of the conditions under which different products are produced, and can make informed choices as to which we use. As can you.
All this means we are helping to contribute to the vast network of local suppliers and producers, creating fairer and more sustainable methods of farming and production worldwide, and in turn creating a more ethical working environment and better prices for global farmers. Being able to educate and inform our customers as to where their food and drink has come from is really satisfying, and we are really excited to be able to share our knowledge and understanding of how we can all help contribute to a fairer and more local world!
How can you help?
Read labels, understand food journeys, visit farms, grow some herbs. Even if you only buy one meal made from Fair and Local produce, or one loaf from the baker on your street, that’s still one.
Bristol is supporting Fair and Local! You can support Fair Trade worldwide through your local economy by buying local wherever you can and when you can't, choose Fair Trade. You can read more about The Assemblies sourcing policy on any of their websites below: