I have received the following report by Rev. Anne Lawson with photos by Jane McCombie:
Haslington Food and Farming Festival 5/6 October 2013
Members of Haslington WI and St Matthew’s Church, together with Food for Thought Bakery collaborated to ensure the success of the Haslington Food and Farming Festival over the weekend of 5/6 October 2013.
WI Secretary, Rachel Hughes, and Vicar of St Matthew’s, Anne Lawson had an almost chance conversation in February. A brainstorming session fuelled by coffee and tea loaf and the Haslington Food and Farming Festival was born.
On a fine, warm October Saturday, the Festival got underway with a Farmers’ Market on the Village Green. Local food producers selling everything from bread, cake and meat to eggs, cheese and fruit cordials did brisk business to enthusiastic villagers.
Local Farmers brought dairy and beef calves, sheep and goats to meet the public and a huge modern tractor and a more modest vintage one attracted just as much interest. Entertainment was provided by Haslington born Kevin ‘Legs’ Walker of CAT Community radio and Cheshire Wildlife Trust raised interest in their work in the Cheshire countryside with their display. Hungry visitors enjoyed a Hog Roast over lunchtime.
The WI did a splendid job of decorating St Matthew’s Church, which was open throughout the weekend. Visitors who called into the Church on Saturday morning had opportunity to express their opinion about the greatest threat to climate change as part of a display provided by the WI Cheshire Federation. The Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy took opportunity to raise awareness of their work in the locality, and a display of 18 varieties of English apples from an orchard in Aston provided a mouth-watering attraction. The entries of a children’s colouring competition, won by 5 year old Anna-Mae were on display and local author, Caroline James sold signed copies of her latest novel.
Saturday evening saw around 70 people enjoying English cheese and wine before engaging in a lively and informed debate about issues surrounding food security under the banner of the National WI initiative The Great Food Debate. Jim Begg, former chief executive of Dairy UK, , NFWI Public Affairs sub-committee member, Sybil Graham, Cheshire Agricultural Chaplain, Keith Ineson, local dairy farmer Ian Scarisbrick and Edward Timpson MP fielded questions and oiled the wheels of debate.
The Festival ended on Sunday morning with a traditional Harvest Festival in St Matthew’s Church when local farmers and food producers offered a variety of items from bread, cake and jam to eggs, tomatoes and a toy tractor representing the work which they do to provide food for the rest of us to eat. A collection was taken for Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy and, together with the profits from the weekend £524.41 was raised for this local charity which supports farmers in Cheshire.
Thanks are due to all those who organised, enabled and attended any aspect of the Festival and helped to make it a memorable and enjoyable event for the whole community.