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Community resilience at the forefront of Good Food Cardiff Autumn Festival

Growing microgreens at the Farm to Fork workshop. Credit: Matthew Horwood

Thousands of people across Cardiff have attended workshops, community feasts, and good food gatherings over the last four weeks, as part of the third annual Good Food Cardiff Autumn Festival – a diverse programme of events across the city.

The festival was organised by Food Cardiff, part of the Sustainable Food Places network – a partnership programme led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain, delivered in Wales by its national partner, Food Sense Wales.

Food Cardiff and C3SC provided grants to 20 different schools and community groups to cover the cost of running an event as part of festival – with other community organisations also joining in with their own self-funded events.

Many of the events funded were about communities coming together to help improve access to healthy and sustainable food – and build resilience – through the cost-of-living crisis.

One of the funded organisations was Urban-Vertical CIC, who ran free ‘Farm to Fork’ workshops in Splott, showing participants how to easily grow sustainable microgreens to supplement their diets. A farm tour and talk detailed how vertical farming can help to reduce the impacts of climate change and tackle cost of living rises; participants were then invited to use the new community growing area in one of the converted shipping containers at Signal Box, to sow and grow their own crops.

After a lunch made with recipes featuring microgreens, a second ‘Good Mood Food’ workshop participants the opportunity to look more closely at how mood can be regulated by food. These workshops in Splott were followed by a weekend of free talks at Roath and Riverside farmers markets.

Amanda Wood, founder of Urban-Vertical CIC said “We have one aim at Urban Vertical CIC, and that’s to help our community thrive and we are doing this through connecting, growing, and creating. It was wonderful to be a part of the Good Food Autumn Festival, helping people from across Cardiff to get hands-on with growing food whilst promoting the well-being of our communities, our planetary health and our local food system.”

Other events throughout the festival included Tremorfa Pantry’s ‘Ready, Steady Cook’ – pantry members could collect an extra bag of ingredients at their weekly shop, to be cooked up into a dish or dishes to share amongst the community the next day; at Cardiff Farmers Markets, SOL Nutrition gave a free demo showing how to make nutritious smoothies from organic market produce to support good health; meanwhile, the Love Yourself Community Group in Butetown used local produce from local shops to cook a delicious feast for members to enjoy.

Pearl Costello is the festival organiser and Food Cardiff coordinator. She said, “The autumn festival was an opportunity for communities to come together over good food, but also to tackle some of the big issues we face more immediately – such as food insecurity, loneliness and social isolation which are all being exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis.

It’s vital that everyone in the city has opportunities to access affordable, nutritious food; it is our hope that the connections forged during the autumn festival will help to create stronger, healthier, more resilient communities in the long term.”

This is the third Good Food Cardiff Autumn Festival organised by Food Cardiff to support and promote the city-wide mission to make Cardiff one of the UK’s most Sustainable Food Cities. More than 5,000 people have been involved in events over the previous autumn festivals, with more than 5,000 vegetable plants distributed to households, and hundreds of meals cooked and shared together.