With many commodity prices on the slide farmers are feeling the pinch and yet the food and drink industry represents a very important part of our economy in the south west. Therefore it is important that both sectors recognise the importance of each other and work together for mutual benefit.
In this context any event which promotes the importance of food, its connection to local producers and the community within which the food is produced and consumed must be a good thing.
Therefore it is great news that after last year’s successful inaugural event, the second Wells Food Festival is scheduled to take place on Sunday 12th October. The event aims to celebrate the best of Somerset’s local produce featuring over 50 stalls manned by artisan food producers.
But the event goes further than just celebrating food itself; education and broadening people’s horizons is also important. For instance, one of the great successes of last year was the invitation which was extended by TV chef Valentina Harris to 10 pupils from the Blue School in Wells who, having helped with the Great Somerset Lunch 2013, were invited to the Universita dei Sapori, a state-of-the-art cookery school in Perugia, Italy. In return, this year the Food Festival organisers have invited 10 students from Perugia to come to Wells to help prepare a superb Italian Sunday lunch using Somerset produce.
In addition to the Italian lunch, chef Tom Hunt will be hosting the Forgotten Feast’s Autumn Banquet where the emphasis will be on using produce that may be rejected by the picky buyers of supermarkets and other retail outlets. In so doing he will try to open everyone’s eyes to the wastefulness of some of our current practices by producing a delicious seasonal feast prepared from the abundance of Somerset’s autumn produce, much of which is forgotten, unused or otherwise going to waste.
The festival will include a whole host of other events including kids activities, a vintage tea party, food related talks and walks plus foodie quizzes and other competitions. There will even be a tent in which you can try your hand at a radio controlled ploughing competition!
So there should be something for everyone and in my view the more people who come to appreciate the importance of food and its connection with the farmers who produce it and the landscape which has been created by farming practices over the centuries, the better.
For more information about this event or to purchase a ticket for one of the lunches go to www.wellsfoodfestival.co.uk.
James Stephen MRICS FAAV
Rural Practice Chartered Surveyor, Wells
T: 01749 683381