More than 40 local food enthusiasts turned up to the evening event held last week and took part in the debate – complete with a panel of food experts from Taste Real Food UK and Wales. The evening got off to flying start with Brecon Beacons National Authority’s Collabor8 Project Officer, Nick Stewart outlining that the evening was likely to generate a range of opinions, but the answer to the question ‘has Brecon got what it takes to achieve Real Food Town status?’ wasn’t as important as what the town decided to do with the answer.
John Wake, Vice Chair of Tourism Partnerships Mid Wales chaired the evening opening with a series of presentations on different perspectives of local food and drink from members of the panel – which included John Fleming and Liz Sharples from Taste Real Food UK, Janet Williams from Pilgrims Tearooms in Brecon and Buster Grant from Breconshire Brewery.
The participants concluded that in order to become a Real Food Town, Brecon was going to need food that tastes great, is ethically and sustainably produced, contributes to our health and well-being, celebrates its local roots, brings people together, looks after the environment, supports our food producers, respects our food heritage, encourages biodiversity and seasonality and keeps food education and skills alive.
John Fleming from Taste Real Food UK said: “It should be regarded as a significant achievement and an honour to become a Taste Real Food Town, as well as fulfilling an important role, but it should not be so challenging as to put people off.”
Liz Sharples, also from Taste Real Food UK went on to say that it should be clear to those living in and visiting Brecon that the ethos of Real Food permeates the town. Having wandered around Brecon earlier during the day, they concluded their presentation by saying how encouraged they were by what they saw that Brecon and that the town is definitely on the right track – particularly in the Market Hall and the range of local butchers throughout town.
Welcoming the comments from the panel, Nick Stewart said that through discussion it was clear that people felt Brecon had a lot going for it, but that it needs a group such as a local Taste Real Food group in Brecon to play a leading role in bringing it all together and improving on what is already here. He said: “It was acknowledged that it’s great having a bi-annual food festival and twice-monthly farmers market – but other towns also have these and I think we all realised that we could work together even better to claim the accolade of a Real Food Town. Lots of ideas came up such as featuring Real Food more prominently on the menus of local cafes and restaurants and on the shelves of more shops, following examples from the Pilgrims Tearooms, Bridge Cafe and Country Life and Welsh Flair. Other ideas included developing food trails, local food producer tours, and the possibility of producing iconic products, and speciality markets throughout the year.”
“Although Brecon Beacons National Park Authority will not be taking a leading role in this project, we are very happy to support these initiatives, offer guidance and champion the values so that the people of Brecon can lead this project to success. As a start, Collabor8 – a project being used to develop and manage sustainable tourism in the Brecon Beacons – will be funding the membership fees of those who came forward at the meeting to Taste Real Food UK. The really exciting news – aside from Brecon achieving Real Food Town status – is the development of a list of recommended Real Food eating places, as judged against a list of criteria. Those recommended businesses will appear on the national and local Taste Real Food websites to enable visitors and local people alike to see where to eat and shop that serves good quality, local, distinctive food. It’s good news for everyone.”
If you would like to attend the event or would like more information on how you can take part in the benefits of Collabor8 please contact Nick Stewart on 01874 620 490 or email firstname.lastname@example.org