News New funding & support for London's small food enterprises 25 of the capital’s small food enterprises will receive funding and support to become thriving businesses that benefit their local communities through the innovative Urban Food Routes initiative.The programme provides specialist business advice, mentoring and funding to small enterprises that work in all aspects of good food, from those that grow and produce it in London, to those that sell it in local shops, markets and online. Funded by Seeds of Change® and the Mayor of London, it will be delivered by enterprise experts the Plunkett Foundation with support from London Food Link to help both social enterprises and privately-owned businesses become more sustainable, have a greater impact on their local community and help more people in the capital to buy or eat locally grown or produced food.Two days of expert business advice with a specialist adviser and funding of £1,500 will be available from the Plunkett Foundation for successful applicants, as well as tools, resources and publicity for successful enterprises.As part of the initiative there will also be mentoring and micro-grants of up to £200 for new enterprises or food growing groups that want to take their first steps into enterprise through getting involved in Urban Food Fortnight - a two week celebration of ultra-local food taking place in September and run by London Food Link.The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “London is home to a wonderful diversity of businesses growing, producing and selling food. The Urban Food Routes scheme is helping these small businesses to thrive, which in turn helps create more jobs and training opportunities for Londoners and also boosts the capital’s reputation as a haven for top quality, locally-produced grub.”Harriet Greenwood from Seeds of Change said: “As an organic food brand we commit a proportion of our sales to supporting biodiversity and sustainable organic practices and we felt this was a perfect fit for Seeds of Change to support again in 2015.We’re excited by the opportunity to see the positive impact this project and the enterprises involved can make on the local food culture in London."Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation said: “We’re really pleased to be delivering support through Urban Food Routes to help London’s small food enterprises. We believe that when an enterprise is supported by its community it is much more likely to thrive, and we’re excited to be working with great partners on this unique initiative.”Sarah Williams, Programme Director at Sustain said “The fantastic thing about Urban Food Routes is that it works with a really diverse range of enterprises and people, ranging from those making cheese using milk from local diaries, to those making bread with people suffering from mental health issues, but all providing good food for Londoners.”Now in its second year, Urban Food Routes has already provided support to 32 enterprises across London, from Spitalfields City Farm and Forty Hall Community Vineyard to Bad Boys’ Bakery and Boss Hog Waffles. The deadline for applications is 12 midday on 27 July for the micro grants first round, and 1st October for the main grant. For information and eligibility criteria visit the Urban Food Routes website.*Pictured above is Sean Gifford of Sky Farmers Ltd who received support from Urban Food Routes in 2014. Sky Farmers grows organic, locally produced vegetables on the rooftops of central London businesses by a network of urban farmers and volunteers. Volunteers are sourced from the businesses on top of which the roof gardens are installed, which are all part of the Inmidtown business improvement district (http://midtown.london/). Inmidtown fund the garden installation and management by Sean.The rooftop gardens therefore not only provide employment opportunities for urban farmers but also help engage businesses within the BID, their staff and their canteen head chefs to connect with the importance of local food production, sustainability and urban farming. InMidTown represents the interests of over 300 businesses in Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles.-ENDS-NOTES TO EDITORS:Urban Food Routes provides business advice to small enterprises that work in all aspects of food, from those that grow and produce it, to those that sell it.Urban Food Routes aims to help enterprises to become more confident about their sustainability and feel more positive about the impact they can have on their local community, the environment and the contribution they make to the capital’s economy. Equally, through Urban Food Routes, local communities will realise the exciting range of opportunities these small enterprises can give them - whether this be volunteering at a food event, learning how to grow vegetables as part of the enterprises’ work or simply enjoying better access to local food.Plunkett Foundation (www.plunkett.co.uk) helps communities to take control of their challenges and overcome them together. It supports people to set up and run life-changing community co-operatives; enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community. These help people to tackle a range of issues, from isolation and loneliness to poverty, and come in many forms including shops, cafes, pubs and land-based initiatives, and everything in between.London Food Link is part of the charity Sustain; the alliance for better food and funding. The network provides advice for food initiatives and businesses and also runs campaigns and events to improve London’s food system. It also publishes the Jellied Eel magazine and runs Urban Food Fortnight and Capital Growth, London’s food growing network. Londonfoodlink.orgUrban Food Fortnight 2015 will run from 11 – 27 September, to celebrate the ultra-local food being grown, produced and eaten on its doorstep ranging from pop up events, to special menus to edible garden days. Sign up or find out more at urbanfoodfortnight.orgThe Mayor of London’s food programme works with a wide range of partners to help transform the capital’s food environment. The food programme has helped to support Capital Growth, a network of 2,400 community food growing spaces across London. It also supports two Food Flagship Boroughs: Croydon and Lambeth, which demonstrate the positive impacts on health achieved by improving food across the whole environment, using schools as a catalyst to drive change.In addition, the Healthy Schools London awards programme incentivises the capital’s schools to adopt a whole-school approach to improving health by creating an environment which encourages growing and eating fresh, nutritious food.Seeds Of Change ® (www.seedsofchange.co.uk/home.aspx) began as a small organic seed farm in the USA in 1989 with a simple mission: "To preserve biodiversity and promote the use of sustainable organic agricultural practices". Since then we have grown into a successful organic food business, with a range of cooking sauces, pasta sauces, pasta and rice and grains products, available across the UK. Seeds of Change is part of Mars Incorporated, a family owned business established in 1911 across six business units employing more than 72,000 associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance. For more information, please visit www.mars.com.