Abergavenny Food Festival isn’t just a weekend to devour delicious food – although that is unquestionably one of the best things about it! The Festival’s packed programme of talks, debates, workshops and community events, aims to reach far beyond the weekend itself, challenging us all to question what good food means, where it comes from and how it impacts both our health and the planet. A food festival should be more than just an eating extravaganza. It should offer a cultural and critical context for our eating and the Abergavenny Food Festival has that at its heart, seeking to educate and inform and provoking us into thinking more deeply about how and what we eat.
The festival was set up in 1999 by two local farmers in response to the BSE crisis. As consumer confidence in British produce plummeted, and worsened with the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001, the festival worked to showcase wonderful local food, and the passion of the people who produce it. Nearly 20 years on, and the festival remains true to its roots, highlighting Britain’s brilliant producers and encouraging the public to support sustainable, local food and farming.
Food festivals create a unique opportunity to get people thinking about how and why we eat the way we do, in a fun and creative format. Chief Executive, Aine Morris, says “I think the public are fundamentally confused hearing constantly conflicting messages that tell them what they should and shouldn’t be eating. In addition to this, the way we currently produce food is one of the world’s leading causes of CO2 emissions. The discussion around how our food is produced has never been more important, because food is the one thing that every individual citizen has the power to take control of in their lives. Everyone eats. Three times a day, we all have a choice about how we spend our food budgets.”
If the British public become increasingly disconnected with the reality of how food is made, we risk forgetting the time and effort that goes into growing, producing and making our primary produce. The aim of the Festival is to get visitors trying, tasting and experiencing new things, sharing delicious food and drink, which makes people more open to thinking differently.
If you understand the reality of the time involved in making food, you are more likely to value the hard work and effort of our farmers and food producers. Food festivals have a huge role to play in changing our food culture for the better – whether it’s getting you to think about the meat you eat or encouraging local communities to cook together. The Festival programme offers a wide range of talks and activities for visitors to get stuck into, alongside a whole programme of events with some fantastic speakers, ranging from learning about forgotten skills with Darina Allen to hearing about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s life in food. Here’s a sampling of what’s happening in and around Abergavenny over the Festival weekend.
Head to The Farmyard for a provocative programme of 30 minute talks discussing farming and the realities of food production as told by the people who are living and working it. From the thinkers, doers, makers and innovators who are shaping the future of British food and farming, to debates on Britain after Brexit, there’s plenty here to get you thinking. Find out more.
Kids & Families Farmyard Takeover
Kids have the run of The Farmyard every morning with plenty of fun workshops to get them thinking about food and where it comes from. From wild tea-making with foraged foods to handling animals, milking goats and milling flour, and back-to-basics talks on where things grow and why to what our soil is really made of, there’s plenty here for all ages. Find out more.
Farm to Fork Workshops
Charlotte Pike is offering free workshops to families and kids on how to cook delicious, fresh food on a budget. Fun and interactive, you’ll leave with a bunch of recipes and a handful of new skills up your sleeve. Reserve your place here.
Abergavenny Food Network
Drop into Abergavenny’s community kitchen for a gathering of local growers, producers and artisans and a chance to chat and sample their produce. Pick up practical tips too, from no-dig gardening and kneading dough to filleting fish and boning meat. Abergavenny Food Network works year-round to teach people about how to cook, eat and enjoy better food from scratch. See what they do here.
Shop and Drop
There’s no reason not to buy plenty of delicious food to take home and enjoy in the days, weeks and months ahead. With our Shop and Drop service, you can purchase your favourite finds and keep them refrigerated or stored while you enjoy the rest of the festival.
Photographs: Kirstie Young Photography and Simon Wheeler