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So my afternoon at the local food event was good.  It’s always lovely to meet other people who are running similar projects, be inspired by others and generally network.  I would prefer more ‘doing’ at these events and less listening – I come home feeling inspired by what I’ve heard, but I would have liked to do more group problem-solving.

The lunch I must tell you, was really miserable.  Perhaps my work running community events and conferences makes me hyper-critical, but I would have thought that an event on local food should have a vibrant, seasonal lunch of local produce.  The only obvious local produce was the apple juice (from Eddisbury Fruit Farm), but otherwise it was miserable beige food (read: soggy garlic bread with cold melted cheese) and a few token carrot sticks.

But enough of that, tonight I made up a delicious pesto using some slightly-too-old peas and a bag of sugar snap peas that were in desperate need of being eaten.  I was also in real need of green, vibrant vegetables for tea. 

Homemade pea and sugar snap pesto

So I quickly cooked the sugar snap peas and ordinary peas (that I’d podded first – possibly one of my favourite jobs ever) in boiling water.  I allowed the sugar snap peas a few minutes longer, but really only let them turn a bright green before draining them and cooling quickly in iced water.

I popped them into my handy small blender, along with some walnut oil (thought I’d try something different), sliced mint from the garden, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper.  I whizzed it all up, added some more oil to loosen it, adjusted the seasonings to taste and hey pesto (sorry…it was too irresistable!) my pea pesto was finished!

After cooking the pasta, I added the pesto along with a splash of the pasta water and mixed it in.  For an extra dash of colour, and in the spirit of using as much of my edible garden as possible, I added a few lilac mint flowers to finish it off. 

This is not a powerful, punchy pesto like the basil version.  It is subtle, with the sweetness of pea, the earthy nuttiness of the oil, and the savoury-salty flavour of Parmesan.  Lovely, seasonal, and a great way to use up forgotten vegetables.

This afternoon I am heading south into Cheshire to attend a local food meeting at Reaseheath College.  I am going with my local food hat on, representing my local low carbon group.  It will be a chance to network with other likeminded individuals from around Cheshire and Warrington who are running fab local food projects or like me, aspiring to run them. 

Meanwhile, I’ve just spotted a recipe for chocolate doughnut holes…they definitely sound like they should be made…


Image: Smitten Kitchen

I had a lovely day at the Making Local Food Work conference in Manchester on Wednesday.  I met some great people, heard from some inspirational speakers (in particular Charlotte Hollins from Fordhall Farm, Kath Dalmeny from Growing Communities/Sustain and Vicki Hird a food campaigner), ate a delicious lunch and came away with what I hope is a better understanding of where my local ‘Low Carbon’ group should head on food related matters.

Making Local Food Work also launched their new report called ‘Local food and climate change – the role of community food enterprises’ – you can download a copy from their website here.

I also won something!  Which doesn’t seem to happen very often but when it does is a lovely surprise.  I won a copy of a new book called ‘Stuffed – positive action to prevent a global food crisis’ from EcoCentric.  I hadn’t read anything about the book, but it turned up in the post yesterday and have had my nose buried in it. 

It is a great read with some fantastic (and shocking) facts and well worth getting yourself a copy if you’re interested in food.  You can get yourself a copy from the online shop at the Soil Association’s website.  Get reading!

Tomorrow I am heading off to the Making Local Food Work conference in Manchester – super excited, looks like there’s a really interesting group of delegates and some great workshops and talks.

Hopefully I will come back with some new ideas for my volunteer work in my local town – I always love finding out what other people and groups are up to.

I can’t wait to see this film, it looks like a real eye-opener:

I’ve spent a lovely day at the Tatton Flower Show with N’s mom.  Tatton is quite near to us, so N’s mom headed over to ours early this morning, then we set off in convoy.  The weather switched between warm sunny spells and sudden downpours – there is a constant eb-and-flow of people rushing into the pavilions as the rain buckets down, then back out into the show ground when the sun reappears.

There were some lovely garden designs this year (my favourites are always the back-to-back gardens as they are small ordinary-sized gardens), although I think there were more I loved last at last year’s show.  One of my favourite garden’s this year was ‘Be Fruitful’ and is the only one I took photographs of. 

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I’m not a huge fruit lover (although raspberries and alpine strawberries go down a treat), but this garden was delightful.  It was an urban fruit orchard, with small espalier apple trees and strawberries in window boxes, interplanted with soft grasses and chocolate brown scabious.

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We discovered these beautiful little tomatoes called red currant.  They produce slender bunches of tiny red tomatoes, much smaller than cherry tomatoes.  We picked up a seed catalogue from the exhibitor and will hopefully buy some seeds next spring to try growing them.

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This exhibitor also had some other fabulous vegetables.  Including these other fabulous varieties of tomatoes…

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And take a look at those onions!

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And here’s something to keep me dreaming – I didn’t ask the price…

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I bought some lovely things including a couple of grasses (including a bunny tails grass! very cute), a pretty new lantern, a cosy waterbottle, a outside light for the front of our house, and some fantastic sounding anti-slug pullets made from wool.  If I get time towards the end of the week I would love to share with you this great product – I put some down straight away when I got home, so we shall see if it helps my slug and snail problem.

If anyone else has been to Tatton today, or is going over the next couple of days, I hope you have a great time!

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Tuesday night was the event that I’ve been working towards for the past year.  The culmination of a year’s volunteering for my local branch of CPRE(Campaign to Protect Rural England), single-handedly running their local food work.  We have been running ‘Buy Local’ Food Awards to celebrate the fantastic work of businesses in Cheshire that grow/sell us great local food. 

The event was a combined effort from myself and Helen Meade, who is the Regional Co-ordinator for the CPRE ‘Mapping Local Food Webs’project which is being rolled out across England.  Helen has been running a pilot project in Knutsford, and with my local food awards coming to an end, it was a perfect opportunity to join forces and put on a lovely event. 

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We have been busy advertising the event through our different networks, but we still didn’t know how many people would turn up – I think we were hopefully for 30 (my secret goal was 50 though).  We had a number of interested businesses who offered to bring along samples of their food, and all five of our award winners were able to come.

So Tuesday evening finally rolled around.  My car was filled with tablecloths, earthenware vases, chalkboards and hedgerow flowers (a mixture of elderflowers, daisies, grasses, and cow parsley).  We had about an hour and a half to set the room up, with the normal hiccups (no glasses or cutlery…aah!). 

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Businesses started arriving and setting up their displays of food, leaflets and samples of food – yumm!  We had Riverford Organic:

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One of our ‘Buy Local’ Food Award winners – Riverside Organic – brought some baskets of the seasonal produce grown on their farm.  We also had sausage rolls from another of our winners H Clewlow Butchers, homemade gooseberry fool (I really want this recipe!) from the Walton Lea Project also an award winner, homemade cakes from Abbey Leys Farm, and chutneys and jams from a lovely company that I don’t know the name of! 

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Over 50 people turned out for the event, which is more than we ever imagined, so are so pleased and hope that people enjoyed the evening.  It was so lovely to see my local food awards come a glorious end with the winners accepting their awards.  I have really enjoyed running the awards but it has been exhausting at times, so I’m looking forward to a month off from volunteering before I start planning my next project.

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There should be some professional photographs available soon as a journalist from the local paper came along to the event.  If and when they are available I will post them or a link to them.

Tonight we are off out to visit friends for dinner – they are having a Mexican party and I can’t wait to find out what delicious food we’ll be eating. 

But before that, I’m heading out to our May Queen Festival to help out on a stall to promote my ‘really local food map’ for our village.  I’ve got a large map of the village and surrounding area and am armed with some sticky tabs – hopefully people will write down places they know that sell local food and pop them on the map.  At least it’s sunny for the parade, so I’m sure there will be a good turn out of people.

I will leave you with a photo of the first homegrown carrot of the year – it’s a round and stumpy Paris Market Baron and so so sweet.  Yum!  Have a lovely day!

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eventtitle

I do quite a bit of volunteering in any free time that I have.  Most of it is to do with local food.  On Tuesday 16th June I am helping to run an event in Knutsford, Cheshire to celebrate the local food grown and produced in our county.  If anyone reading this happens to live near to Knutsford and is interested in local food, we would be delighted if you are able to join us.

There will be a project update on the Mapping Local Food Websproject that has been taking place in Knutsford, which is funded by Making Local Food Work and CPRE.  The ‘Buy Local’ food awards that I have run for CPRE Cheshire over the past year will see the presentation of the awards to the winners – I will add another post in the next day or so to let you know who are winners are.  There will also be local produce to try, and some delicious cakes, tea and coffee.

We’d love to see you there!  For more information contact Helen Meade on 07833 250 134 or leave me a comment.

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This week has been a bit mad and I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and tell you about our lovely visit to the Potato Day at Hulme Community Garden Centre last weekend.  I am finally getting that chance. 

Hulme Community Garden Centre is what it’s name says – a community run garden centre.  It is based in Manchester and is a little oasis in what is an area of concrete and tarmac.  I have long been on their mailing list and receive regular updates about the lovely events and things that they are doing.  But I hadn’t ever been in.

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Last weekend they held a Potato Day.  Having just taken on an allotment I have plenty of space for those large vegetable plants (like potatoes), so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit the garden centre and stock up on potatoes and onion sets.

It was everything I was hoping it would be, and although looking like most gardens rather dreary at this time of year, you could see that it is a well loved green space.  There were community gardens, a green roof, ‘pot rescue’, and a small shop selling local handicrafts and artwork. 

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one of the community gardens

one of the community gardens

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the pots of 'pot rescue'

the pots of 'pot rescue'

The potatoes of ‘Potato Day’ were laid out in a large polytunnel.  A huge long table was laden down with hessian sacks and there was a fantastic display celebrating the many different varieties.  We came away with a bag of salad and maincrop potatoes, some onion and shallot sets and a small bag of garlic.  There was a good selection of fruit bushes and other lovely plants that I was tempted by, but with N there I was quite restrained.  

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There were baked potatoes (how appropriate) and chunky soup for lunch and berry cupcakes for hungry children.  I am planning on going back during the summer to see the community gardens in bloom and perhaps without N so I can be a little less restrained…

For more information on Hulme Community Garden Centre please visit their website: http://www.hulmegardencentre.org.uk.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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