Congratulations and thanks to all those who’ve spent so much time and care planning the 3rd Wye Food Festival which is launched at the Farmers’ Market tomorrow with a beer tent, a bouncy castle and a beekeeping demonstration (a potentially lethal combination?) From the programme it looks like being a fun-packed nine days.
I would also like to take the opportunity to applaud the vision of those who set up the festival in the first place. I have written previously on this blog about the wealth of food producers in the area and it is quite right that they should be both supported and celebrated in an annual event.
Coincidentally this year the festival takes place at a time when many people in the village will be most aware of the effects of intensive farming. Walk in most directions out of the village and one is likely to come across a bright yellow (Artificial-looking? Pungent? Pollen-laden? Hayfever-inducing?) field of oil seed rape.
The exceptions of course are when one walks up Occupation Road towards the Crown or across the railway towards the A28. Walking up Occupation Road, one comes first to the gateway to the Beanfield Allotments (a field of great plenty I’m sure) and then the finely graded tilth and neat rows of potatoes, onions and brassicas in the fields farmed by Ripple Organics. Walking towards the A28, one comes across expanses of raspberries, asparagus and lettuces in the fields farmed by Perry Court.
I think that all of us would wish that all of the fields surrounding the village would be more like these. Yet we can perhaps also all understand why they are not so: economic realities for farmers and landowners; the need for bulk quantities of everything to keep the show on the road; the lack of time on the part of consumers who prefer to shop at large supermarkets which bring in produce from elsewhere.
The Wye Food Festival is an excellent opportunity to at least reflect on this lack of balance in our world. Possibly to buy local? Possibly to reflect on just how much supermarket food is thrown away after purchase (over 40% in some parts of London)? Possibly just to celebrate our food producers with the rest of the community?
Whatever the case, I wish it the greatest success.