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Let's support #LocalMarch and ditch the impatient 'convenience' culture

PUBLISHED: 11:30 21 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:30 21 February 2019

Rolfes of Walsham owner and butcher Paul Hubbard, left, with Brian Barker  Picture: BRIAN BARKER

Rolfes of Walsham owner and butcher Paul Hubbard, left, with Brian Barker Picture: BRIAN BARKER

Brian Barker

Those who are on social media can hardly avoid monthly trending campaigns. Lately we have seen #veganuary and #Februdairy: campaigners trying to get noticed, to promote what they think others should be doing and, if they do, the social media machine roars into action.

Fruit and vegetables on display at Rolfes of Walsham, Brian Barker's local grocer  Picture: BRIAN BARKERFruit and vegetables on display at Rolfes of Walsham, Brian Barker's local grocer Picture: BRIAN BARKER

I want to make a pitch for #LocalMarch. I feel that our modern lifestyle has become very blinkered, with convenience being the driver. The need to have everything delivered in an instant because we don’t have time to go to the shops.

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White vans stream through our towns and villages dropping off single packages at each house, with multiple drops throughout the day as one online order from certain websites means separate packages will converge on properties within the 24 hours of that simple click online. What impact is all this 24/7 delivery convenience having on our environment and our society? I see an impatient society with a diminishing local high street, mountains of unrecyclable plastic packaging, diesel vans clocking up mile after mile just to get our orders to us the next day whether or not we desperately need them so fast. Many of us are guilty of it. Then, if it is the wrong one, or not the right colour, or doesn’t fit, we send it back in another white van on a different day. Is this sustainable?

#LocalMarch needs to trend, my challenge is real, and everyone should try it and promote it if you’re on social media or not! What am I suggesting?

The meat display at Rolfes of Walsham  Picture: BRIAN BARKERThe meat display at Rolfes of Walsham Picture: BRIAN BARKER

• No online shopping for a month, nothing, not even your convenient supermarket shop!

• Go to your local butcher and talk to him. What is in season? Where has it come from?

• Do the same for your local baker or grocer if you’re lucky enough still to have one nearby.

• Choose local independent stores to supply as much as you need.

Brian Barker with his shopping outside Rolfes of Walsham  Picture: BRIAN BARKERBrian Barker with his shopping outside Rolfes of Walsham Picture: BRIAN BARKER

• Find your local farm shop or farmers’ markets and engage in that missing ingredient of traditional shopping: conversation!

• Rediscover the personal shopping experience.

• Speak to your neighbours and share shopping trips, or shop for them.

• Make time to write a list and go to your local high street and buy what normally you would get online. Try garments on, make sure it fits or that the colour is right before you purchase it.

• Get everything in one journey, we used to do it before our world became hectic with the need and opportunity to be instant. The World Wide Web made our world smaller and we no longer get out and about!

• All it will take is a bit of planning, a few lists and communicating with family and friends to organise who can get what.

Make March the month that you get your local economy buzzing. Chat, smile and tell everyone that you are doing #LocalMarch and ask them to do the same. It’s only one month but it could reignite your love for your local economy. In the face of the uncertainty of Brexit I am sure we want all our local shops to survive. My challenge has been laid down, who wants to join me?

• On November 1, 2017, Brian Barker’s farm at Westhorpe, near Stowmarket, became the Agricultural Horticultural Development Board’s (AHDB) first Strategic Farm for Cereals and Oilseeds in the UK. He writes a monthly column for the East Anglian Daily Times, and this month he is calling on consumers to give up online shopping for a month and try to source their goods from local shops and markets instead.



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