Cultivating Innovation: Could OxFarmtoFork be the sustainable solution to local food sourcing


Cultivating Innovation: Could OxFarmtoFork be the sustainable solution to local food sourcing

1 May 2024

Creativity comes in diverse forms, and inventive innovation is something that imaginative business owners engage with every day. It’s an integral part of running a business and particularly for any that strive to make an impact, such as addressing environmental challenges. 

The initiative of OxFarmtoFork, a collaborative endeavour between Good Food Oxfordshire (GFO), University of Oxford colleges and Velocity Cycle Couriers, exemplifies this. At its core, OxFarmtoFork champions the idea of embracing local produce, fostering a symbiotic relationship between growers and consumers, and ultimately paving the way towards a sustainable, low carbon future for Oxfordshire's food economy in a creative way.

Sarah Giles, Business Development Manager at Velocity Cycle Couriers shares the journey so far.

Delicious local produce travelling a few miles to be prepared and served locally: this is the aspiration of Good Food Oxfordshire’s new project – OxFarmtoFork - launched in partnership with University of Oxford colleges and Velocity Cycle Couriers.

OxFarmtoFork champions the county’s independent producers and growers, helping to create a new, local marketplace for fresh, tasty produce as one of the important elements in ensuring a sustainable, thriving food economy for Oxfordshire.

Each week, Oxfordshire growers list their offerings to college head chefs – from root vegetables to salad leaves, venison to flour and cheese to honey – and the list is shared with participating University of Oxford colleges. Once the chef’s orders are placed, Velocity collects the produce directly from growers in electric vans, transferring the produce to e-cargo bikes at its warehouse on the edge of the city. Velocity’s cycle couriers then deliver the produce right to the kitchen doors of the colleges by bike. From farm to fork, the journey taken by the local produce is quick, efficient and environmentally responsible.

Originally conceived to make good use of ‘gluts’ - when a yield of a particular crop is higher than expected and there is a risk of wastage - at market gardens and farms, there is now an expanding community of small, independent growers working to ethical and sustainable standards whose produce is finding its way to the dining table of Oxford’s colleges. The ambition of OxFarmtoFork is to recruit other institutions to the project – including schools, hospitals and care homes.

Farms including Blacklands Organic, Sandy Lane, Worthy Earth, Bruern, Willowbrook and Oxford City Farm were enthusiastic about trialling the project in the summer of 2023, along with nine University of Oxford colleges keen to source fresh local produce. Despite growers not having time in the first year to incorporate OxFarmtoFork into their seasonal growing plans, which inevitably limited the amount of produce available, the response from everyone involved has been unanimous: OxFarmtoFork should continue and should expand.

As Queens College Head chef Sean Ducie says “There’s nothing not to like about this scheme – I love the seasonality and I can adapt my menus in line with what's available.”

Good Food Oxfordshire (GFO) is keen to recruit new producers and is thrilled that two new growers are joining for the 2024 season - Brighthampton Veg and Forge Farm. More produce means more colleges can take part, so the team at GFO is working hard to reach out to more market gardens, farms and other growers across the county to grow the scheme.

Every producer in OxFarmtoFork is testament to the sheer determination and tremendous hard work that it takes to be a grower in Oxfordshire, with the economic and logistic challenges that local producers currently face. We are all familiar with rising costs and the difficulties of recruiting a workforce, but growers are increasingly facing additional challenges from unpredictable climatic conditions affecting their harvests. However, there is huge demand by chefs in Oxfordshire for access to fresh, delicious and seasonal produce grown with concern for the environment. This project simply matches these needs together and creates a short food supply chain solution to bring produce directly from farm to fork.

“There's been a gulf between growers and institutions, and you have made a huge step forward by brokering these relationships, which I could never have done on my own” says Harrison Fannon from Worthy Earth – a resounding endorsement from a local grower involved in the project.

As the transport link between grower and college, Velocity Cycle Courier’s role is to ensure the freshness of the produce on its journey from grower to college, while causing minimal damage to the environment and helping to reduce congestion in the city and reduce air pollution in Oxford. Velocity strive to fulfil the ‘farm to fork’ journey in the most sustainable way possible and the team of experienced couriers and logistic expertise are critical to achieving this.

For more information about OxFarmtoFork, go to or email

Author: Sarah Giles, Business Development Manager at Velocity Cycle Couriers

Subscribe to stay updated