The collaboration between local farmers, producers, artists, restauranteurs, allotmenteers and the local community in Peterborough - which culminated in the fantastic lunch for 500 people in Cathedral Square – has landed a national award.
The weekend of events, organised my arts group Metal in the city, was named last week as winnerof the Love British Food 2015 Harvest Heroes competition, run in conjunction with The Telegraph.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges led by The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Raymond Blanc and his son Olivier. Together they were looking for events that strengthened the local community, educated people about British food and eating locally, and supported the economy.
Raymond Blanc said: “Once again, having to judge these awards has been a difficult task. The entries have been so strong – each one has had such a positive effect on those involved. What we are witnessing here is a revolution – not a French Revolution, but a very British one! We are reconnecting with food as part of our culture and our everyday life.”
The Peterborough group’s outstanding winning effort celebrated food, the land and the unique role agriculture has played in the development of the city.
A series of events filled the city centre with sights, sounds, tastes, smells, songs and dances of the countryside. They included a farmer’s market, Harvest wain procession, barn dance, Harvest supper, bread making workshops, and craft demonstrations. Historically, Peterborough’s city centre food and craft market was reinstated after 50 years.
On Saturday evening, a spectacular parade of Harvest costumed-characters from dancing cart horses to pagan goddesses wove its way through the streets. It handed over to the Harvest stage in Cathedral Square for a night of foot stomping folk rhythms from around the world.
Sunday saw a huge outdoor dinner created by artists Lucy and Jorge Orta with discussions on local food production, consumption and distribution. Five hundred people were seated to enjoy ‘conversation starters’ baked into loaves of bread. The meal was cooked by Lee Clarke, head chef at Clarkes in Peterborough, who specialises in locally sourced produce and was supported by a team of volunteers from local colleges and learners at HMP Peterborough prison.
Mark Richards, Director of arts organisation Metal and organiser of Harvest Peterborough, said: “We are utterly delighted to have won the 2015 Harvest Heroes competition. The inspiration for the weekend was all around us. Agriculture and food production has played such a unique role in the history and development of the city. Peterborough is surrounded by the Fens which grows over a third of all the vegetables produced in England, enough wheat annually to produce 250 million loaves of bread and accounts for about half of all Grade 1 agricultural land in England.”