Academy of Contemporary Food Wales

Although the Academy of Contemporary Food Wales will be housed in the Willows building on the campus in the short-term, the hope is that the bid made by the University and Ceredigion County Council to the Mid Wales Growth Deal will be approved so that the centre can then be established in an iconic building on the campus in due course.

The Academy of Contemporary Food Wales will offer a clear focus on the food industry and will be a means of teaching, training and raising standards across the industry both locally and nationally. 

There will be an opportunity for it to work strategically with the Welsh Government, The Royal Welsh Show, Food Centre Wales and a host of food businesses in Ceredigion and across Mid Wales. Despite the emphasis on the local, the Academy of Contemporary Food Wales will also have national and international connections – with partnerships with universities across the globe – with world-renowned experts and practitioners contributing to its activity and visiting regularly. 

The scheme could also benefit from having a presence on the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd which would increase the centre’s influence across Mid Wales.

The Academy of Contemporary Food Wales  will emphasise the close relationship between food, ecology and sustainability. It will also promote gastronomic tourism where it will be possible to combine aspects of the local food and drink industry with local heritage, history and culture. The potential is considerable.     

The Academy of Contemporary Food Wales is seen as a catalyst that will stimulate the town’s economic regeneration with the hope that brand new food businesses will be established there, and current businesses  will upgrade their resources and upskill their workforces.  Hopefully, the development will lead to dozens of new jobs in the food and hospitality industries making Lampeter – and Ceredigion in general – a destination of international status in these fields. 

Education will be at the heart of the Academy of Contemporary Food Wales. It will be a lifelong learning centre that will provide a variety of courses for nurseries, primary and secondary schools, further and higher education students and community groups from various backgrounds. The aim is to establish the Academy as a national hub, engaging closely with a cluster of farms in the area that will provide practical educational experiences for students and visitors to the centre alike. Indeed, the aim is to establish a formal partnership between a range of farms that operate sustainable ways of working, specific hospitality centres and sustainable tourism attractions where students will gain direct experience of implementing what they have been taught as part of their studies in the centre.

Its educational provision will start with post-16 courses, under the guidance of Coleg Ceredigion/Coleg Sir Gâr, leading to specific degree courses and, ultimately, specialist research degrees under the guidance of UWTSD. An innovative apprenticeship scheme will be central to the provision, where local and national expertise will be utilised. All the centre’s provision will be bilingual throughout, with support being given to those pursuing their studies through the medium of Welsh. An advisory committee will give regular advice to providers regarding developments in the field and how the Academy can be developed further.

The Academy of Contemporary Food Wales  will also have an area dedicated to visitors where a range of activities will be offered to attract school classes and families to Lampeter from near and far. This department’s aim would be to educate pupils and families about nutrition, healthy eating, the food chain and the wealth of produce and nutritious foods grown naturally in Wales. Again, this aspect of the work could have a national status, especially by coupling the Academy with local organic farms and Coleg Sir Gâr’s farm at Gelli Aur.

The Academy will be housed within an iconic building that will be built with local sustainable materials. The building’s focal point will be a vast exhibition theatre that will have a professional standard kitchen. This is where the live cooking exhibitions will be held for the public, students and groups of visitors. Hand in hand with the theatre there will be two or three smaller kitchens, a series of classes and seminar rooms, laboratories, a library, research rooms, offices for staff as well as for external tenants. 

The Academy will be a destination for both the local population and those visiting west Wales during the year. One of the University’s halls of residence could be used as a place for visitors to stay e.g. ‘food and cookery holidays’ could be organised on the campus during periods when students are off-campus.  

There will be a close relationship between the Academy of Contemporary Food Wales  and the Rural Enterprise Centre located nearby on the campus. Through this, students will be steeped in the area of enterprise and guidance and ready advice will be offered to those considering setting up their own business within the food and hospitality industry. Similarly, the food village in Pontfaen and the Food Centre Wales in Horeb will be important partners to the Academy of Contemporary Food Wales offering expertise, experience and an opportunity to experiment locally. 

As it would be located on a university campus, the Academy of Contemporary Food Wales would be able to hold conferences regularly throughout the year. It would also be able to work with relevant businesses to arrange food tours around Ceredigion raising awareness among a broad audience of the wealth and superior quality of local produce. Indeed, there is considerable potential to establish a successful partnership within the Academy between the food, hospitality, tourism and culture sectors in Ceredigion, north Carmarthenshire and Mid Wales more widely.

The Academy of Contemporary Food Wales will:

  1. offer undergraduate, postgraduate and short courses that develop an understanding of, and creative response to the key issues of our time in respect to food – specifically, climate change, biodiversity, diet and health, local economy/community prosperity and food security/sovereignty;
  2. act as a hub for food education in the region, providing a strategic forum with partners organisations to assist in the direction and co-ordination of all aspects of food training in the region;
  3. cement a strategic partnership between Higher and Further Education in the region where the Academy offers theoretical understanding at HE level to underpin practical education at FE level and FE offers practical education to augment applied learning at HE level;
  4. draw upon the substantial practical experience and intellectual and physical capital that exists in the region in respect of sustainable and regenerative food in terms of farming and growing, secondary production and hospitality;
  5. establishing a “knowledge bank” for food and farming – an up-to-date and continuously evolving treasury of research and writing on contemporary food and collator of projects and initiatives on food with a specific emphasis on a comprehensive and up to date picture of activity in Wales;
  6. develop facilities for use by the community, schools, third sector agencies and industry partners in relation to initiatives around contemporary food as outlined above and act as a focus for liaison and collaboration around all aspects of the food system;
  7. respond to opportunities for ongoing academic research across the food chain in terms of nutrition/health, climate impact, biodiversity etc;
  8. inform and assist food education in schools and the implementation of the new curriculum with specific regard to UWTSD’s role in teacher education;
  9.  deliver tangible benefits to the town of Lampeter and the county of Ceredigion in terms of economic activity and community prosperity;
  10. in fulfilling the above, establish the Academy as a leader in the field central to policy development in Wales and the UK and with the capacity to inform and interact with initiatives on an international level.