New online platform for local food network

Hannah Downey

Cork chef, Jack Crotty, known locally as ‘The Rocket Man’, has come to the rescue of Stirling’s online food market with a new e-commerce platform, NeighbourFood.

Stirling Food Assembly was threatened with closure after the French organisation announced in July that it would be pulling out of the UK in September, closing all 70 of its markets.

Forth Environment Link, which manages Stirling’s market, vowed to find a solution to allow the popular service to continue. The charity set out to find a replacement online platform which meets the city’s growing appetite for local produce.

FEL Development Manager, Emily Harvey said: “Food Assembly may not be performing well across the UK, but Stirling is bucking that trend. We’re ranked among the top five Food Assemblies in the UK and have attracted over 2000 members. We’re really looking forward to working with Jack and his team and building on what we have grown here in Stirling. Like Food Assembly, NeighbourFood will be a sustainable way to food shop, that supports local producers and cuts down on food miles.”

NeighbourFood will work in a similar way to Food Assembly, allowing local farmers and small-scale producers to sell their produce directly and keep the lion’s share of the profit, 80%, with the remaining 20% split equally between the charity and NeighbourFood towards running costs.

NeighbourFood founder, Jack Crotty began his career as a chef. He set up his restaurant, The Rocket Man, six years ago with the aim of using local produce to create fast food. Since then the entrepreneur has also started running farmers’ markets from a derelict farmyard in the centre of Cork, where he also sells his own salad produce.

Jack said: “As a small-scale producer and chef, I understand the challenges local producers face to get a fair price and the difficulties people experience trying to source fresh local produce. NeighbourFood aims to solve both of these issues and build a community at the same time. We can’t wait to launch the new market and get our teeth stuck in!”

The transition between the two e-commerce platforms will be funded by Connect Local Regional Food Fund, a government scheme which supports local food and drink initiatives, and the market will continue without a break in service.

The last Stirling Food Assembly will take place on Thursday 27 September, with orders for Stirling’s first NeighbourFood market opening the same day. The first NeighbourFood collection will take place at Stirling High School on Thursday 4 October.

To sign up for the new market visit and click on join now.