To misquote Oscar Wilde completely, to be the winner of the Harvest Heroes Competition in 2014 should be regarded as an achievement; to come runner up this year could be seen as extraordinary. Emsworth, has once again punched way above its weight on a national level and has inspired many other communities. The Harvest Heroes Competition is organised by Love British Food in conjunction with The Telegraph as part of British Food Fortnight and seeks to acknowledge the people who organise the most imaginative and inclusive celebrations of local food and the harvest.
â€œThis yearâ€™s winners were Peterborough with a collaboration between local farmers, producers, artists, restaurateurs, allotmenteers and the local community while the small coastal town of Emsworth, last yearâ€™s winner, came a very close second with another awe-inspiring effort that reached even further into the local community and beyond.â€
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. Raymond Blanc said: â€œOnce again, having to judge these awards has been a difficult task. The entries have been so strong â€“ each one has had such a positive effect on those involved. What we are witnessing here is a revolution â€“ not a French Revolution, but a very British one! We are reconnecting with food as part of our culture and our everyday life.â€
For Emsworth, British Food Fortnight is the perfect way to showcase its food heritage and show just what a great â€˜foodieâ€™ destination it really is. The Emsworth Business Association, in conjunction with other local organisations, was keen to build on last year, adding more events and making it even more accessible to more members of the community. The emphasis this year was very much focused on:
Education Community Celebration
Using these themes, the Emsworth British Food Fortnight wanted to encourage a wide range of events, encompassing as many people of all ages and backgrounds as possible to take part and involving many local businesses and groups. Some of the highlights this year included:
- Bringing home the harvest... to the town square - Saturday 19th â€“ Friday 25th September
- In association with Barfoots of Botley we created a small field in Emsworth Square complete with scarecrow and planted sweet corn, courgettes and peppers.
- The â€˜Great British Menuâ€™ College Lunches - 3 local catering colleges took over the Brookfield Hotel and designed, prepared and served a â€˜Great British Menu.â€™
- Emsworth Apple Pressing Day - A real community event, local apples producing â€˜Emsworth Apple Press 2015â€™ in the Square. This included a competition with the pupils of 3 local primary schools to design the label for this yearâ€™s Apple Press. The winning label adorned all the containers.
- EAT! Healthy -A showcase of local â€˜Well Beingâ€ practitioners focusing on health through food. At this event we offered free talks on Healthy Eating from several local experts on diet as well as the opportunity for visitors to talk to local practitioners and producers.
- Creative Writing for Foodies -Emsworth British Food Fortnight Creative Writing workshop. Led by Lizzie Chittleboro, a local author and held at the organic farm Tuppenny Barn.
- A â€˜Thought for Foodâ€™ Local Showcase Market - A real local market, involving local producers, cookery demonstrations, a Market Safari, a showcase of Hampshire Vineyards, an entertainment area hosted a Punch and Judy Show as well as an â€˜Apple Boxâ€™ Speaker Corner allowing people to come and read poems or stories about food.
- Taking the Harvest to Primary Schools - In conjunction with Hampshire Farmersâ€™ Market we hosted Food Education Classes in the 3 local primary schools.
- â€˜A Boost of Kindnessâ€™ -Working with The Beacon Food Bank to build a â€˜Food Mountainâ€™ by having Food Bank Collection points located in Emsworth over the Fortnight for people to donate food items. The Food Mountain was built and then donated at an open air Interdenominational Harvest Festival.
â€œTo be runners up this year, having been winners last year is a remarkable achievement for Emsworth and in many ways even more of an achievement given the national interest. There is no doubt in my mind that people are so much more interested today in food, where it comes from and who produces it, the great thing of course is that food is after all a language we all speak. When you can combine that with a strong community and a place that has a very real food heritage then you have a pretty near perfect recipe for success. However itâ€™s so important to recognise that we need to keep going - local producers and our independent high street need our continuing support to ensure they are available next year and the year after and into the future for todayâ€™s young peopleâ€ Alistair Gibson, member of the organising committee of Emsworth British Food Fortnight 2015/
"Three years ago we set out to encourage people to connect with the food in their local area. Today the competition has surpassed all expectations - every entry is imaginative and inspiring and, most importantly, wide reaching with an educational message. Emsworth Food Fortnight has inspired these new contenders, each one of which is having a very real impact on their own communities.â€ Alexia Robinson, Founder of Love British Food.
The organisers are indebted to the following for their support and advice for this years event â€“ Barfoots of Botley,
The Southern Co-operative, The Brookfield Hotel, Havant Borough Council, Henry Adams Estate Agents, Hambledon Vineyard, Hampshire Farmers Market, Bishops Printers, Monster Creative, Hampshire Fare, Fine & Country.