Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Penrhiw Organic Farm open day

I was at the Penrhiw Farm open day, organised with Slow Food South East Wales, on May Bank Holiday Monday 2 May 2016. The farm, on a hill above Trelewis, produces organic meat that is sold at Farmers’ Markets around South Wales.
Penrhiw Farm is run by John and Celia Thomas. They started the two-year process of turning the farm organic in 1999. Since then, they have produced good-quality organic beef, lamb and mutton.

The lamb is from South Wales Mountain sheep; also called Nelson South Wales Mountain sheep (Nelson is a Valley town just a few miles down the road from the farm). This breed is part of the food heritage of South Wales. The meat is renowned for its sweet taste and succulence. Slow Food South East Wales are trying to get South Wales Mountain Lamb included in the Slow Food Ark of Taste: an international catalogue of heritage foods. The Ark is designed to promote foods that are sustainably produced, unique in taste, and have strong links to local areas (Pedigree Welsh Pig is already aboard the Ark).

On a farm walk we saw the flock of sheep with lambs. One characteristic of the South Wales Mountain lambs is the brown neck – as you can see in these photos. The ewes thrive on the clover-rich pastures on the upland farm.

The beef at Penrhiw Farm comes from a herd of around 30 Aberdeen Angus cows. We saw them in their field with calves; though one mother and calf were in the barn, where John described how he had delivered the calf at 8 am that morning.
On the farm walk, we also saw the farm’s horses, bees and areas replanted with trees.

At the Farmers’ Markets, the Thomas’ combine their produce with pork from the Welsh Pigs, as well as chickens and eggs, from Cefn Coed Farm, near llansannor. A sow and her piglets, born the previous Friday evening, were on display in the barn. Graham, from Cefn Coed, cooked the BBQ that rounded off the afternoon.
For more information about Slow Food South East Wales: http://www.slowfoodsoutheastwales.org.uk/
Penrhiw Farm’s website: www.penrhiwfarmorganic.co.uk

Monday, 18 April 2016

SLOW FOOD CINEMA: Recent documentary films compiled by Stephen Nottingham

A Year in Burgundy
1 h 31 m
Seven families discuss the cultural and creative process of making wine in the Burgundy region of France.
Dir: David Kennard
Addicted to Sheep
1 h 26 m
UK: In North Pennines, tenant farmers Tom & Kay look after a flock of prized sheep. This film follows them on the farm for a year.
Dir: Magali Pettier
1 h 20 m
Sweden: The effects (death, infertility) of Dole’s use of a banned chemical on workers in banana plantations in Nicaragua.
Dir. Fredrik Gertten
Big Boys Gone Bananas
1 h 30 m
Sweden/Germany/UK/USA/Denmark: In 2009 Dole Food Company campaigned to prevent the screening of ‘Bananas’ at Los Angeles film festival. Three years later, the director comes back with another eye-opening documentary examining the right to freedom of speech and the story of what happens when filmmakers go up against a large corporation like Dole.
Dir. Fredrik Gertten
Can You Dig This
1 h 20 m
USA: South Los Angeles. As part of an urban gardening movement taking root in South LA, people are planting to transform their neighbourhoods. This film follows the inspirational journeys of four unlikely gardeners, discovering what happens when they put their hands in the soil. The film features inspirational guerrilla gardener Ron Finley.
Dir. Delila Vallot
Discovering Lindane: the legacy of HCH production
33 m
Spain: The legacy of Lindane production in northern Spain, and a project demonstrating how to clean up pesticide contamination here and in similar situations.
Film by Arturo Hortas
Edible City: A documentary about the good food movement
55 m
USA: “fun, fast-paced journey through the local Good Food Movement taking root in the San Francisco Bay Area, and around the world. Introducing a diverse cast of extraordinary and eccentric characters who are challenging the paradigm of our broken food system, EDIBLE CITY digs into their unique perspectives and transformative work—from edible education to grassroots activism to building local economies…”
Dir: Andrew Hasse
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
1 h 48 m
Germany: For 6 months of the year, Spanish chef Ferran Adrià and his team used to close El Bulli to prepare the innovative menu for the next season. An elegant, detailed study of food as avant-garde art.
Dir: Gereon Wetzel
Farmageddon: The unseen war on American family farms
1 h 26 m
USA: The story of a mom whose son healed from all allergies and asthma after consuming raw milk and real food from farms. It shows people all over US forming food co-ops and private clubs to get these foods, and how they were raided by state and local governments.
Dir: Kristin Canty
Fed Up
1 h 32 m
USA: A look at the causes of obesity epidemic and the food industry's role in aggravating it.
Film by Stephanie Soechtig & Katie Couric
Fish Meat
29 & 52 m
USA/Turkey: As our hunger for seafood grows, the seas are running out of fish. But what exactly is farmed fish? Two friends, a fish scientist and environmental engineer, take a sailing voyage to pull back the cover on modern fish farming. Along the way they discover the tragedy of Bluefin Tuna and the joy of carp.
Dir: Joe Cunningham
Writer: Ted Caplow
Food, inc
1 h 34 m
USA: An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry. Contributors include Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser and Richard Lobb.
Dir: Robert Kenner
Grazers: A Cooperative Story
69 m
USA: With increasing interest in farm-to-table food, a small group of upstate New York farmers sees an opportunity to hold on to their endangered farms by raising and selling grass-fed beef. The film follows the cooperatives efforts for two years, exposing the difficulties facing small-scale farming in our modern, industrial world.
Film by Sarah Teale & Lisa F Jackson
Good Things Await
90 m
Denmark/USA (subtitled): Farmer Niels Stokholm and his wife Rita work the biodynamic farm in Thorshøjgaardalternative, Denmark, with natural livestock rearing and other alternative methods, and they supply top restaurants (e.g. NOMA), but in conflict with national organic standards body.
Dir. Phie Ambo
Growing Cities
1 h 37 m
USA: A film examining the role of urban farming in America, asking how much power it has to revitalize our cities and change the way we eat.
Dir: Daniel Susman, co-writer Andrew Monbouquette
Hungry for Change
1 h 29 m
Exposes ‘secrets’ of diet and weight loss - deceptive food industries strategies designed to keep you coming back for more.
Dir: James Colquhoun & Laurentine Ten Bosch
Ingredients: The Local Food Movement takes Root
1 h 13 m
USA: American food is crisis: obesity and diabetes, family farms in decline and environment in jeopardy. The film explores a local food movement, seeking more flavour and nutrition to bring good food back to the table and health back to communities. Contributions from Alice Waters and several restaurateurs.
Dir: Robert Bates
Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story
75 m
USA/UK (focus on USA). Filmmakers and food lovers Jen & Grant look at the issue of food waste, from farm to fridge. After catching a glimpse of billions of dollars of good food tossed away each year in North America, they pledge to survive only on discarded food.
Dir: Grant Baldwin
Local Food Roots
35 m
UK: The emergence of innovative local food movement from a handful of pioneers in the early 90s to diverse UK-wide movement; first organic box schemes to today’s local food culture.
f3/Sprout Films
Joy Carey co-producer & scriptwriter
Moo Man
97 m
UK: Filmed over 4 years on marshes of the Pevensey Levels, maverick farmer Stephen Hook turns his back on cost-cutting dairies and supermarkets, and instead stays small and family-run to keep a close relationship with his herd of cows.
Dir: Andy Heathcote
More than Honey
92 m
Switzerland/Germany/Austria: Delightful, informative & suitably contemplative study of the bee world. State-of-the-art film making (with surprisingly up-closes) looks at why bee populations worldwide are collapsing. English version narrated by John Hurt.
Film by Markus Imhoof
Noma: My Perfect Storm
1 h 40 m
Focus on chef and Noma co-owner René Redzepi’s work, as he searches for inspiration in Denmark and reflects on the Copenhagen restaurant’s success. The restaurant helped bring Scandinavian food to the world’s attention. The films looks at foraging and local food sourcing.
Dir: Pierre Deschamps
Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds
82 m
Protecting endangered seed varieties (90% of fruit & veg varieties existing 100 years ago are gone. Maintaining remaining seed biodiversity essential to breed new varieties resistant to pests or that will thrive in temperature extremes and a changing climate.
Film by Sean Kaminsky
Raising Shrimp
52 m
USA: Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the USA, but 90% is imported and most of that is farmed. How is shrimp farmed? Is it safe to eat? What happened to the American shrimp fishery?  Among questions asked.
Film by Joe Cunningham  & Ted Caplow
Slow Food Story
1 h 14 m
Italy/Ireland: In 1986, Carlo Petrini founded the ArciGola Gastronomic Association in Italy and 3 years later launched Slow Food, an international anti-fast-food resistance movement. From the tiny town of Bra, home to some 27,000 inhabitants, the Slow Food movement has grown to become a revolution that now has roots in more than 150 countries. Cheese-makers, vintners, and artisanal food folk, toast Slow Food for bringing about a change in consciousness that shook the very foundation of gastronomy. Featuring Carlo Petrini and narrated by Azio Citi.
Dir: Stefano Sardo
Slow Food Videos
1 m – 20 min

Range of Slow Food videos on all aspects of Slow Food’s campaigns.

Seeds of Time
77 m
USA: The story of Cary Fowler's drive to collect seeds and create a seed bank to preserve agricultural biodiversity - the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the arctic island of Spitsbergen, Norway.
Dir: Sandy McLeod
Symphony of the Soil
103 m
USA: An artistic exploration of soil. By understanding elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex & dynamic nature of this precious resource. Includes use/misuse of soil in agriculture etc worldwide and soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time.
A film by Deborah Koons Garcia
The Clean Bin Project
76 m
USA: Is it possible to live completely waste free? Partners Jen & Grant go head to head in a competition to swear off consumerism and produce the least garbage [focus on packaging/ecological impacts]
Dir: Grant Baldwin
The Farmer and The Horse
1 h 17 m
USA: Film about sustainability, self-sufficiency, and why we do the work we do. Difficulties and satisfaction of organic farming, through one New Jersey farmer’s experience (doesn’t use a tractor). Concerns land use, the environment, and good food. 
Film by Jared Flesher
The Last Catch (15)
85& 52 m
Germany: Fish stocks facing collapse. Focus on Bluefin tuna. Modern big business, traditional family fishing business and industry critic POVs.
Dir: Markus Schmidt
This Changes Everything
89 m
USA/Canada. Filmed in 9 countries/5 continents over 4 years, this documentary looks at the vast challenge of climate change. Inspired by Naomi Klein's bestseller.
Dir: Avi Lewis

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Nightingale Community Garden joins National Gardens Scheme

Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys is opening for the first time as part of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), over the weekend of Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 July 2016. It will join seven other Dinas Powys gardens, some of them veterans of the scheme that sees gardens opening to the public and raising money for charity. One of the local charities that benefits is Dinas Powys Voluntary Concern.

As with the private gardens in the Dinas Powys gardens group, the Community Garden will be open from 11am to 6pm over the weekend. The gardens can be visited for a combined admission price of £5.00, with children free. You’ll find home-made teas/cakes and plant sales in some of the gardens. The Community Garden will have volunteers and plot-holders around all weekend to answer questions. I’ll report here nearer the time on planned activities in the garden.

From the NGS brochure:
Nightingale Community Garden, Sir Ivor Place, Dinas Powys, CF64 4QZ
Three years ago the gardens were created on an old derelict playground with funding from Tidy Town Wales. 27 Gardens were created including 2 raised beds for the physically handicapped. Many local residents, young and old, grow a variety of vegetables, fruit and flowers. The excess is donated weekly to the local Food Bank. In addition we have 2 Greenhouses and a communal area for activities.
How to find us: Along pathway between Sir Ivor Place & Nightingale Place. At T-lights on Cardiff Rd, turn R by school if driving from Barry, or L if driving from Cardiff/Penarth. Continue, then take 2nd R at Camm's Corner. You may park here.”

For further information, including details of the other gardens, visit the Dinas Powys Group Gardens page on the National Gardens Scheme website:

Timeline for Nightingale Community Garden, Dinas Powys:
Jan 2012
The initial idea and looking for funding

Feb 2012
The involvement of Creative Rural Communities and the first plan for the site

Aug 2012

Oct 2012
Funding in place and residents are briefed on progress

Jan 2013
Work starts clearing the ground

Feb 2013
Building contractors on site

March 2013
Topsoil is spread and the first garden visit occurs

April 2013
The plots are marked out and allocated, the first plants go in

June 2013
Photos of the garden flourishing in its first year

Sept 2013
The official opening of the community garden, with guests including Jane Hutt AM and Derek Brockway

May 2014
Progress report a year after opening – a highly productive local food growing area

July 2014
The Community Garden links up with the local food bank – to supply fresh food to supplement the basic food bank boxes

July 2015
One of the Community Garden’s youngest gardeners, Dan Tailby (age 6) who grew his first plants in the communal family plot in the garden, is a finalist in the 2015 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Young Gardener of the Year Awards