Virtual attendees to the first ever Food Vale Festival were treated to a series of free online events and inspiring stories from some of the Vale’s most sustainably minded food businesses.
The event, which took place online from 22nd March – 4th April 2021, brought people closer to more than 30 food producers and businesses in the Vale, whilst highlighting opportunities to improve the local food system, post-Covid 19.
The festival was organised by Food Vale, part of the Sustainable Food Places network – a partnership programme led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. It has received funding through the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Three new films were created to showcase some of the most sustainable and inspiring local food stories from the local area; the films were shared on Food Vale’s social media channels throughout the festival period and have so far been viewed more than 5,000 times.
Cobbles Kitchen in Ogmore was one of the businesses featured; their film focuses on the theme of eating locally but thinking globally.
General Manager Owain George explained: “At Cobbles, using organic produce is very important to us, as is using local producers and seasonal ingredients, and minimising wastage. It can be overwhelming to think that small changes like this can have a bigger impact, but if each individual business or household is doing this, it has a huge snowball effect. If we were all moving towards making more sustainable food choices locally, it could have a huge impact globally.”
Forage Farm Shop in Cowbridge was also featured – their film focuses on the benefits of supporting local businesses. Matt Eales, head chef at the Forage café, showcased some of these ingredients with a recipe of stuffed, roasted saddle of lamb with locally foraged herbs.
He explained “It’s important to know where your food comes from, but sourcing ingredients locally also means you are supporting local businesses, growers, and that expertise and passion. We’re so lucky to be able to do that here in the Vale.”
Over the course of the two-week festival, Richard Shaw from Cooking Together also provided a number of free cookery demonstrations, suitable for the whole family to get involved. Amy Greenfield from Awesome.Wales – the Vale’s first zero waste store – hosted a takeover of the Food Vale Twitter account, sharing her expertise on how to reduce waste in the home. There was also a virtual tour of Barry’s Community Garden, Gibby Green Fingers.
Louise Denham, festival organiser and Sustainable Food Places co-ordinator at Food Vale said, “The inaugural Food Vale Festival celebrated the local groundswell in support for a more connected and sustainable food system, whilst highlighting Food Vale’s three key aims; to ensure a good meal for everybody every day; to support local food businesses to thrive; and to connect local and global food opportunities.
We are thrilled with the success of this first event, and look forward to next year – when hopefully, our programme can include a mix of both online and offline, real-life events.”