One visible sign of this
fledgling renaissance is the mushrooming phenomenon of farmers' markets.
These give consumers the chance to buy their food directly from the producer
and also give the farmer an opportunity to learn more about their
'customers' and cut out the middleman.
A monthly market in Bourton, begun earlier this year, has proved a hit and
Stow is set to revive its ancient market charter with more than 30 farmers
expected in the square next month.
As well as these monthly events a number of new shops are offering locally
sourced, traceable and fresh food. It is one year since Jim and Helen Cherry
opened their farm fresh shop in Long Compton and they report that business
Customers can take their pick from fresh veg grown in Ebrington, trout
smoked in Donnington, flour milled in the Wychwoods, lamb from the field
behind the shop and a whole host of other staples and delicacies all bought
direct from the producer.
This trend for traceable locally produced food was given a huge boost on
Sunday as Moreton Show held its first ever food fair.
Dozens of farmers and food producers from across the region turned out to
compete for the National Small Producers awards. Among the hundreds of
entries were such mouth watering delicacies as Damson and Sloe Gin Ice
Cream. The day, of course, also included a farmers market.
The success in restoring the reputation of the British food industry and
finding new ways of getting food to the dinner table is down to the quiet
industry and imagination of individual farmers.
However, some credit most also go to a number of high profile campaigners
who have been tirelessly banging the drum for British farming.
Among these crusaders is Susanne Austin, the founder of the Cotswolds
Food Group. "I describe myself as an advocate of British produce and the
prosperity of rural Britain," she said. "We are told that global trading is
the future of food production and more and more food is being imported.
Everyone seems to think that somewhere else is going to produce food for
them and one day that 'somewhere else' may not be there. What then? During
the recent fuel crisis it only took two weeks for signs of a food shortage
"We must support our farmers — they do an amazing job on our behalf and our
future could depend on it."
The productivity of local farmers is set to celebrated by Miss Austin with a
Harvest Banquet next month. More than 100 guests will have the chance to
savour all that is best of locally produced food.
Food for thought as
founder of the Cotswolds
Picture Ian Cameron
The sumptuous feast has already attracted guests such as Cotswolds MP
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, farmer and broadcaster Robin Page and rural
campaigner Lord Plumb of Coleshill.
"The evening will be an expression of what food should be about," said Miss
Austin. "Sitting round a table eating, drinking, laughing and sharing. And
most importantly giving thanks for what we have and the people who produce
it." Tickets for the black tie event at the Wyck Hill House Hotel on October
25 are £65. To find out more, and for information about the Cotswold Food
Group, call 01865 742793.