Hungerford Food Festival 2015 - Berkshire’s best producers
PUBLISHED: 16:55 16 April 2015 | UPDATED: 16:55 16 April 2015
Hungerford Food Festival demonstrates the depth of the county’s food and drink sector as local producers show their wares, writes Sue Bromley.
One of the best examples of Berkshire’s increasing and thriving community of artisan food providers is provided every year by the Hungerford Food Festival. Now in its fifth year, it’s become necessary for organisers to start planning very early for the October event when some 40 stalls of local and seasonal produce will sit alongside delicious street food and live demonstrations from local chefs in the Town Hall and High Street. And although we may have to wait until then to join the merry throng, many of the products are available all year round. It’s become a major feature of the Hungerford calendar, attracting numerous visitors as well as residents keen to try the treats. Producers who have taken part in previous events sing the festival’s praises.
The festival is organised by HEAT (Hungerford Environmental Action Team) and an important objective is to provide a showcase for local producers and seasonal food. “We are lucky to enjoy the support of a number of major local businesses which assist us with this policy,” says festival founder Penny Locke. Fellow founder Tony Drewer-Trump explains: “Thanks to sponsorship over the years from Doves Farm, Cobbs Farm Shop, Audley Inglewood and Newbury Building Society we are able to keep costs affordable for the smaller artisan producers and community groups.”
Doves Farm started as a small family business in 1978 growing crops to mill organic flour just outside Hungerford. Today they produce a range of organic, gluten free & artisan flours, and grains, in addition to organic, gluten free breakfast cereals, pasta, cookies & flapjacks.
Doves Farm is a long term supporter of the Hungerford Food Festival and also the Slow Food movement. “We are passionate about organic food,” says Clare Marriage, CEO of Doves Farm, “We care about low food miles and educating people about our native crops and food sources.” Clare is one of the judges of the Festival’s Cookery Competition which celebrates and encourages home baking and cooking.
Doves Farm was delighted to sponsor the Hungerford Food Festival again last year and bring their interactive display of fabulous new artisan grains and flours to the Festival. They include Organic White Rye Flour, unique to Doves Farm and Organic Wholemeal Emmer Flour, believed to be one of the first grains cultivated by man.
Natural yeast specialist Julia Moore demonstrated how to make pizza bases and pitta breads using sourdough cultures and how to make a lovely wholemeal family loaf using Doves Farm Organic Wholemeal Emmer Flour sourdough ferment, which was delicious and enjoyed by many. Find out more about Doves Farm artisan flours at doves.co.uk.
Saddleback Farmshop is run by Clare Whidborne, the third generation Whidborne at Manor Farm, Brightwalton. The shop is a converted piggery situated in a picturesque rural location in the heart of West Berkshire.
They sell their own raised beef and game from the estate, including venison. The policy of the farmshop is to buy from as many local farmers and small specialist suppliers as possible. Visiting Saddleback Farm Shop is an enjoyable experience for all the family. Take the opportunity to buy good quality, locally produced and home cooked food. Enjoy the surroundings with free range chickens, goats and sheep behind the shop near the tea room and enjoy the play area outside the tea room with sand pits and children’s ride-on tractors. Find out more at www.saddlebackfarmshop.co.uk.
Laura O’Brien from Cakes by Cocochoux in Kintbury runs hands-on cake decorating fun for children of all ages at the food festival. Cocochoux specialises in bespoke cake decoration and a range of cake baking, decorating and sugarcraft courses. See www.cocochoux.co.uk for details.
You don’t have to travel to France to buy top quality charcuterie as Parsonage Farm run by Sarah and John Mills now specialises in home produced salami, air dried pork and beef all made by hand on the farm using meat reared on the farm. Several flavours of salami, including red wine and garlic, can be bought online at www.parsonage-farm.co.uk or found in local pubs.
If you like cured meats and would like to have a go yourself book a charcuterie workshop at Parsonage Farm with internationally renown charcutier Marc Frederic Berry on Saturday, 11 April or Sunday, 27 September. The day will include creating and taking home pancetta, coppa, salami and chorizo. £125 per person includes a delicious farmhouse lunch. Parsonage also runs a variety of butchery courses. For details see the Events tab of their website or contact Sarah on 01264 736208 or email@example.com.
Wilton Windmill, just seven miles from Hungerford is the last working windmill in Wessex. Their stone ground flour is made from wheat grown in the fields of Wilton village surrounding the windmill. It’s an excellent way of reducing your food miles and, as the flour is milled using just the power of wind (and the volunteer millers of course), so it couldn’t be better for the environment – or you!
You can visit the windmill at any time to admire the building from the outside and enjoy the picnic area and breathtaking views of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The windmill is open for guided tours every year from Easter to the end of September on Sundays and Bank Holidays from 2pm to 5pm. The shepherd’s hut shop, serving refreshments and gifts is also open at this time, as are the loos. Wilton Windmill Stone Ground Wholewheat flour can be bought at the windmill’s gift shop as well as various local outlets. See www.wiltonwindmill.co.uk
Cobbs Farmshop stocks a wide range of local product year round. You’ll find a butcher, fishmonger, delicatessen and florist at their Bath Road centre and the surrounding farmland, as well as a licensed café selling breakfasts, homemade meals and lighter bites. At last year’s festival they donated bacon which helped local scouts raise over £500 in sales of bacon rolls.
Seasonal crops are always on offer – we are all waiting for their legendary spring asparagus and rhubarb.
Sheepdrove Organic Farm gained full organic certification in 2001 after being converted back to chalk grasslands from a conventionally farmed arable enterprise by the previous owners. It is high on the tranquil Lambourn Downs and has been owned by Peter and Juliet Kindersley for 30 years. The farm is now 2,500 acres in size and is a mixed enterprise, making it one of the most influential organic farms in the country. Pioneers in the mutton renaissance movement, Sheepdrove is passionate about rare breeds, and owns large flocks of Shetland and Herdwick sheep, revered for their excellent lamb and mutton. The farm also has a large commercial flock of Lleyn ewes, a hardy Welsh mountain breed which provides grass-fed lamb for the two butcher’s shops in Bristol and London and meat box scheme. The farm is also home to Aberdeen Angus and Shorthorn cattle, and the rare British White, all reared extensively on herb-rich pastures. Sheepdrove also has another rare breed, the Berkshire pig. These live out in the woods on the farm, producing some of the finest pork you’re ever likely to eat.
The farm is bursting with wildlife, helped mostly by being organic, but also has extensive environmental programmes in place including barn owl monitoring, with 30 boxes on site, lapwing and stone curlew breeding plots, set aside for corn bunting and feeding stations for the threatened grey Partridge. All the farm’s water is recycled on site through the reed beds, and over 150 acres of wild flower meadow has been replanted to support endangered flora and fauna. Borage is planted for Neal’s Yard Remedies, which also supports bees and consequently a honey enterprise.
The farm boasts a kitchen pottage, Physic Garden and Eco Conference Centre and they hold several food, farm and cultural events throughout the year. For details and to shop online visit www.sheepdrove.com.
Be part of the 2015 festival
If you are a new startup or a local producer of quality food and would like to be included in the 2015 Hungerford Food Festival on Sunday, 5 October, please contact Tony or Penny at HungerfordFoodFestival.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hungerford Environmental Action Team exists to help reduce the impact of the Hungerford Community on climate change and resource depletion, by assisting residents to embrace a way of life which reduces their negative impact on the environment and improves the quality of their life.
All are welcome to join the organisation and the main activities at present are: an annual food festival, swap shops, monthly guided walks, film screenings and workshops. For more details visit hungerfordenvironmentalactionteam.com.
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