Saturday, 16 July 2016

Norfolk Saffron and Slow Food Anglia

Slow Food Norwich had heard of Norfolk Saffron several times over the past few years but my friend Aviva then took part in a workshop with Sally from Norfolk Saffron near Burnham Market in north west Norfolk, Aviva was then able to tell me more about this interesting artisan saffron producer and I managed to meet Sally for the first time in 2013 and she told me then about her very interesting business and the very interesting history of saffron growing in north Norfolk.
Sally who started and runs Norfolk Saffron is an Oxford trained botanist with a doctorate in plant pathology, she is helped in busy periods by her family and especially by her mother Jill who is the reason that saffron growing has returned to Norfolk.
Norfolk Saffron is based in the family smallholding in the pretty village of Burnham Norton on the north west Norfolk coast, the land has been in the family since 1935, but Sally only started growing Saffron there in 1997 after her mother gave her 20 saffron corms as a birthday present. By 2009 there was too much saffron being grown just for personal or indeed for use by the whole family and Sally decided to go into commercial production and with the help of RDPE funding the new business was born.

Norfolk Saffron continues the ages old practice of growing saffron on the north Norfolk coast, in the past much of the saffron grown and processed in this part of Norfolk was sent across to Holland via the small port of Wells next the Sea but this stopped many centuries ago.
Sally now sells her bottled saffron, two types of saffron flour and her saffron liquor at local farmers markets, large annual food and drink festivals, also some is sold in shops in north Norfolk and increasingly she is selling her saffron on line, she also has set up a small saffron museum in Burnham Norton.
Slow food Anglia is now planning an application to Slow Food International to get the saffron granted Presidia status from the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and we hope to start the process whicl attending the Salone del Gusto Terre Madre held in Turin in late September.

Aviva Leigh who originally introduced me to Sally from Norfolk Saffron is based near Norwich, she designs and makes contemporary textiles that celebrate artisan skills, using natural dyeing including saffron, hand weaving and also felt making. She currently has a studio in a beautiful old merchants house in the centre of Norwich and runs courses and workshops both in Norfolk and other parts of the UK.
Aviva is inspired by a ‘slow making’ ethos that embraces the use of sustainable and zero-waste processes and considers the provenance of all materials that she uses. She works mainly with natural dye stuffs, often grown locally, and is passionate about connecting personally with the process of creating colour, from sowing the seeds to processing the pigment and dyeing the fibres.
Last year Aviva opened a new workshop and studio in Happisburgh on the north Norfolk coast but also continues with some work in Norwich as well.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Slow Food Festival in Norwich

As an active community based organisation we were pleased that Slow Food Norwich together with Slow Food Anglia were invited by Norwich City Council to take part in the One Planet Festival at the Forum in Norwich last month and that we also sponsored a prize at the Eco Awards, where winner of our award was Mrs Temples cheese from north Norfolk. Slow Food Norwich is an autonomous Slow Food group but is also one of several Slow Food groups in East Anglia and is affiliated to the larger Slow Food Anglia regional organisation.
Slow Food Norwich are pleased to be working in partnership with Norwich City Council as part of the One Planet Norwich project and are holding a Slow Food Norwich and Anglia artisan food and drink festival in Norwich starting on the 18th of August, and it will be held over three days in the historic St Margaret's Church on Benedict's Street in the Lanes area of the City. We have chosen this famous Church of Art in the City as we believe it is the perfect venue for our artisan festival, it hosts many different exhibitions and organisations during the year and is very well known throughout both Norwich and also this part of Norfolk

The Festival will be held at the Church from the launch evening on Thursday 18th August to late on Saturday 20th August and there will be a meal provided each evening for up to 70 guests, with the majority of the produce used in the meals coming from Slow Food producers in East Anglia and prepared and cooked by Mark and the guys at the well known Norwich based BitetheBullitt who have been Slow Food supporters for many years. We also are pleased to have the great team at Slow Food Anglia Approved business member Louis' Deli the popular and well known artisan cafe and delicatessen in the city, and Damien from Les Garrigues wine involved in planning and taking part in this exciting event.
Slow Food promotes good, healthy clean food that is produced in a way that is good for the consumer, good for the producer and also importantly is good for the Planet and biodiversity, so our event in Norwich will be promoting this message to visitors and members who attend over the course of the three days.
We have invited members of other Slow Food groups in England, with Slow Food London already having confirmed that some of their members are coming to Norwich to be part of the festival, and because Slow Food Norwich is part of the wider Slow Food International organisation we have invited members of groups in Europe to also come to the festival. This includes Italian olive oil artisan producers who belong to Slow Food Italia who will have a stand of organic olive oils and there will be French wines from small producers that are showcased by Les Garrigues, along with wines from Italy that are produced by members of both Slow Food and Slow Wine in that country.

We have invited many of the local food producers from Norfolk we already know and work with to take part in the festival, but we also will offer a wider range of activities, including talks and workshops given by local organisations involved in sustainability and environmental issues, such as food waste and healthy eating and living.
Slow Food Norwich and Anglia are very pleased to have the local Norwich based Michelin starred chef Richard Bainbridge from Benedicts restaurant and Carmelo Carnevale the famous Sicilian chef based in London, both will be doing cookery demonstrations. Mark from Bullitt and Stewart from the Madder kitchen will also be doing a cookery demonstrations as well as several other Norfolk based chefs and other locally based food producers are coming including Norfolk Saffron will also be present at the event. As Slow Food as an organisation has its roots in Italy another Italian supporter of Slow Food Anglia will be coming from London to support our festival, Etna Coffee now based in Victoria will be present over the two days and will serve authentic Sicilian Arancini and fabulous Cannoli as well as other great Sicilian foods.

Claudio Bincoletto the well known wild food expert and professional forager who works with the RHS and several other environmental groups will be holding workshops and cookery demonstrations on the Friday and Saturday afternoons and we will also have local community groups including Norwich Farm Share and the FirePitCamp  who will also be involved on both days.
As the Festival is in partnership with Norwich City Council we will also be focusing on issues which affect the population of Norwich and the County of Norfolk so we are inviting organisations that work in Norwich to take part in half or full day events and hope that this will widen the scope and appeal of the Festival.
Slow Food Anglia will be helping us in Norwich to organise and help run the Festival and we already have the help of several of their members who will work with our members and our committee to make this a very popular and exciting event.
A full update with details of all the those taking part will be available at the end of July and more details including the evening meal menu and ticket prices are on our Facebook page. Please do get in touch with us at Slow Food Norwich or Slow Food Anglia for more details of how to take part in this interesting and exciting event in Norwich this August.