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Archive for the ‘Community Food’ Category

The Big Lunch

biglunch

Cork Food Web are organising a series of events around Cork City for The Big Lunch on July 19th. What is The Big Lunch? Imagine a summer’s day on which millions of us, throughout the UK and Ireland, sit down to have lunch together, with our neighbours in the middle of our streets, around our tower blocks and on every patch of common ground. The food, entertainment and decorations we will have either grown, cooked, or created ourselves. This will be a day to break bread with our neighbours, to put a smile on everyone’s face.

http://corkfoodweb.ning.com/group/biglunchcorkjuly19th

If you are interested in joining an event or organising one yourself click on the link above.

All the best,

Patrick

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Last years winners of ‘A Taste of West Cork Schools Cookery Competition’, Ellen O’Regan & Pearse O’Flynn from Schull Community College have just sent us this account of their prizewinning trip to Neven Maguire’s MacNean House & Restaurant:

neven & grace inehanOn Wednesday, 13th May 2009 we travelled the seven hour journey to Blacklion, Co. Cavan with our Home Economics teacher, Ms. Grace Linehan. We were welcomed at MacNean House & Restaurant, in Neven’s absence, by his uncle Frank and local lady Sheila. Neven and most of his staff were at the Irish Restaurant Awards ceremony at The Burlington Hotel in Dublin. We relaxed for an hour in the lovely surroundings of MacNean House before we sat down to a delicious meal prepared specially for us by Chef Vicky. We had the restaurant to ourselves that evening.

After nine o’clock breakfast next morning we were told of Neven’s successful night in Dublin. He picked up six awards including the coveted All Ireland Best Chef and Best Celebrity Chef awards.

Before meeting Neven in the kitchen, we had a few hours off which we spent at Enniskillen Shopping Centre just fifteen minutes away. At one o’clock we were back at MacNean House to meet up with Neven. Before getting down to work in the kitchen he spoke briefly about the awards ceremony the previous night and gave us the history of MacNean House.neven in kitchen with shane and ellen   He introduced us to his chefs, kitchen staff and his enthusiastic, three year old nephew who obviously adores Neven as he was dressed in full chef’s outfit and wanted to cook with Neven. Then it was time to put on our aprons and set to work. Neven showed us how to make spring rolls, chocolate tart, roast pineapple, pineapple chutney, chili jam and how to spin sugar into baskets and other designs. He also showed us cooking techniques such dicing and how to roll pastry correctly. Meanwhile he made us a lovely chicken curry for lunch while at the same time we watched as he set about preparing dinner for guests later that night.

After lunch we presented Neven with a hamper made up of West Cork produce, generously sponsored by: Irish Yoghurts, Glenilen Farm, Gubbeen Cheese, Bantry Bay Seafood, Union Hall Smoked Fish, Clonakilty Black Pudding, Skeaghanore Duck, Durrus Cheese, Sally Barnes Smoked Fish, Desmond/Gabriel Cheese and FollainTeo.Neven presented with West Cork Food Hamper

At 6.30 p.m., before the pièce de resistance (8 course dinner in MacNean House, prepared by Neven) we watched from the kitchen while table service began. It was interesting to see how smoothly things ran in such a busy kitchen and celebrity chef Neven wasn’t at all like other t.v. chefs who seem to shout at their staff all the time.

Dinner was an exceptional dining experience from beginning to end. Starter included Trio of Goat’s Cheese, Assiette of Rabbit or Seared Sea Scallops, to name just three. This was followed by Carrot & Coconut Soup with smoked ham Hock Ravioli and Passion Fruit Jelly. Main course included Assiette of Irish Beef, Rare Breed Pork Plate or Trio of Turbot, all with delicious accompaniments. A wonderful selection of deserts was preceded by ‘pre-desert’ of Tiramisu with popping Candy! Tea or coffee was accompanied by MacNean House petit fours.

The presentation of each dish was truly amazing and the wonderful combination of flavours and textures made it a dining experience we will never forget.

Next morning after a delicious breakfast, Neven invited us to join him on a visit to his producers but unfortunately as we had a long journey ahead this wasn’t possible. Before we left, Neven kindly presented us with a signed copy of his new cook book and again invited us back to MacNean House to complete our Transition Year work experience. We are very much looking forward to it.

Ellen O’Regan & Pearse O’Flynn

3rd Year students Schull Community College

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Bob McCutcheon visiting his bees with his granddaughter Asha

Bob McCutcheon visiting his bees with his granddaughter Asha

Hosford’s Garden Centre, Cappa, Enniskeane Co. Cork
Sunday 26th April 2-5pm
Demonstrations designed to pass on heritage skills to the youngsters – from the generation which knows best!

Bread and Scone Making with Ballinascarthy Bakers Mary Collins and Chrissie Flynn (children can join in)

All About Bees with Award Winning Beekeeper Bob McCutcheon, Secretary of County Cork Beekeeper’s Association (and my Dad!)– Kids and grownups can learn how honey is made

Planting Strawberries and Making Jam with Artisan Grower Denise Bushby – Children love fresh strawberries, and this is a chance to learn how to grow them and make jam from them – from West Cork’s expert!

Dance The Afternoon Away fo Music from
The Three G’s (Two Grannies and a Grandad!)

Children’s Art Competition from 12 Noon.
Kids are invited to paint or draw a picture on a theme of ‘Cooking with Grandma’ (materials provided) which will be judged by the Slow Food West Cork team. Best Picture wins lunch for two – as a gift for Grandma and Grandad, or Grandma or Grandad plus a guest (€1.00 entry fee as a donation to Slow Food)

Demonstrations, art competition and music to run throughout the afternoon. Everyone welcome – Grannies, Grandads, Mums, Dads and children of all ages

Log on to http://www.slowfoodireland , email slowfoodwestcork@gmail.com or call
Dianne Curtin 086 067 6249 for more details

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Hi Ivan,

Meeting to be hosted by the committee of Clonakilty Market, invited local business people, and invited local resident speakers to discuss and address the current situation in regards to the proposed outdoor food market in Clonakilty. Meeting to be chaired by Mick Hanly, Chairman of Clonakilty Tourism board.

 

All are welcome.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Public Meeting
8 p.m.
Emmett Hotel, Clonakilty

Regards

Gerald Kelleher

Chairman, Clonakilty Food Market

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Charlie Donovan and John Dolan

Charlie Donovan and John Dolan

I have been interested for some time in a model of food production called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) so I was delighted to find that a few pioneering souls are getting one going on the Sheep’s Head. Community supported agriculture is a relatively new socio-economic model of food production, sales, and  distribution aimed at both reducing the financial risks for the producers and increasing the quality of food and the care given to the land. It is also a method for small scale commercial farmers and gardeners to have a successful, closed market. The basic concept is that a group of consumers make a financial commitment to fund the annual budget for either the whole farm or for an individual crop, in this way they become ‘members’ or ‘shareholders’. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season.  

Through LEADER I’ve spoken with quite a few farmers around West Cork about diversification and the biggest stumbling block is handling risk, particularly market related risks like who’s going to buy this and when? How much will they pay? How can I get it to them? Whilst most farmers are willing to trust themselves to manage the risks around production costs and output, the unknowns about the market are often too much and their experience is too limited. For commodities like beef, milk and cereals often the only market variable is price. By answering these market questions in advance and spreading the production risks, community supported agriculture could really be a way of getting a greater diversity into Irish agriculture. Achieving a greater range of production closer to the point of consumption has so much to offer West Cork from the point of view of food security, local economies, food miles and biodiversity. In July of last year the Irish government set in motion a review of food security on this island. This was in response to a move in the UK to increase food self-sufficiency from 120 to 160 days. It seems that if our time runs out we’ll be stuck with meat and butter as these are the only products in which we are wholly self-sufficient, sounds like the Atkins diet.

Bantry CSA will produce its first harvest later this year and as far as I can gather, it is the first of its kind in Ireland. I travelled down to Gerahies on the Sheep’s Head to meet John Dolan, the CSA founder and co-ordinator and Charlie Donovan, one of the three farmers involved in the scheme. John explains his motivation for getting the CSA scheme going:

“Lisa and I have for the most part taken control of our own food supply, if we’re not growing it ourselves then at least we know where it comes from. But we don’t have enough land to grow our staples, particularly cereals. Many of my friends are in a similar situation, so we were looking at ways of sourcing more directly. I had heard about CSAs and thought there was no reason they’d have to be just fruit and veg box schemes. They could be field crops too. So I started talking to my friend Charlie Donovan to see what he thought of the idea.”

Charlie liked the idea and helped John with talking to other local farmers that would be receptive and had the right land and skills. In the end two more Sheep’s Head farms, Stephen and Packie O’Donovan and Dennis Holland agreed to join the scheme. Stephen, who has featured previously in this column, and his brother Packie, will grow a half acre of Sarpo Mira potatoes for the group. Dennis will grow 3 acres of oats. Charlie is a fit man in his seventies and seems to relish the manual work that growing potatoes on a small scale involves.

“I never set drills, but for more than an acre you’d have to. It’s all done by hand and we plant in ridges. The ridges give you double the crop over a drill and there’s no need to weed. The main fertiliser is the straw from under the cattle after calving. It doesn’t force the crop and it keeps them up all year. That’s the way I do it and I knock great value and satisfaction out of it. I’ve always set about ¾ acre and I sell to the local shops, it’s my holiday money. I always set Kerrs Pinks but whatever they got this year it burned the sally trees as well. We’re not using spray in this CSA scheme and that will be a big difference. It’s less work and I don’t like spray anyway. I hope that what we do this year will be a trial for others around. If they see it succeeding with me then it’ll get big.”

For the consumers in the group the CSA allows them to take an active role in production – this is co-production in practice. Rather than passively eating what’s on your plate, a CSA consumer has had a role in deciding what will be grown and how. I asked John about whether the group were going the organic route, “Not just yet, when I spoke to farmers about organic growing I could see the shutters coming down. Ideally, the CSA would offer an organic option and this is something that the Bantry CSA aspires to. But there are no oat producers in the area, never mind organic producers. So for now the choice for potential consumers is local before organic. As they get to understand the local market and uncertainty around inputs decreases I think some local producers will be encouraged to give it a go. With the potatoes, I have ordered enough seed for ½ acre of sarpo mira, which is a blight resistant maincrop variety, hopefully this will eliminate the need for spraying. The oats will be grown from biodynamic seeds and the crop will not be sprayed with any growth regulators, herbicides or pesticides”

Despite our still cherished Celtic tiger notions of upperocity, I think that most of us have a sense that farming is good work. We hold close the notion of a meitheal or community gathering for collective work which is built on passed down memories of farm work that brought people together, such as at harvest time and threshing. Many CSAs draw people into aspects of the work on farm. One of the big challenges for Bantry CSA will be to develop the infrastructure locally for processing oats, which need to be dried, dehusked and rolled before they land steaming on the breakfast table. The group of 30 that buy into the oats CSA will need to invest not just their subscription but also some time and energy, though John has promised a harvest party after the threshing!

Since talking with John and Charlie, I have spoken with others around West Cork that see the merit of getting community supported agriculture schemes going in their area. I would be keen to hear from interested farmers or consumers – if that’s you then contact me by phone (023/34035) or email (ivan@westcorkleader.ie). If you’re local to Bantry and interested in being part of Ireland’s first scheme – Bantry CSA, then you can contact John Dolan at 086/0569832 or dunodolain@gmail.com 

See here for a clearer explanation of the scheme: http://zone5.org/2009/02/18/bantry-community-supported-agriculture/

 

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Happy New Year and apologies for not having posted since early December – the Southern Star went into Christmas shopping ad mode and I took a holiday. Trying to walk that off now – that’s the price of full fat principles! Anyway whilst walking I’ve been thinking about what foods, farmers and producers I’d like to find out more about this year. Your suggestions would be very welcome, here’s the current pipeline: I’ve done a bit of work looking into Community Supported Agriculture which is getting going on the Sheeps Head thanks to John Dolan, Charlie Donovan, Stephen O’Donovan and a few other pioneers. More about that later this month. In house here we have a new learning initiative going with Safe Food that is targetted at eight to nine year olds, its called Taste Buds.  I’m going to try and talk to a teacher that has been using the pack and see what I can learn about what can motivate kids and their parents – that’s for next week.

For now I wanted to let you know about Cork Food Web – it’s a project to support local food production in Cork and they have a fab social networking type website that should be great for getting and keeping people involved. This Thursday they have a meeting to push the project out into the public realm and anyone interested in getting involved is welcome – just visit the link above etc.

Finally, my condolences to the family of Liam O’Regan and all at the Southern Star on the death of their editor and owner last Saturday.

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Came across this online local food database through an ad in the Observer Food Monthly.

I am a friend of Local Food Advisor, visit the site to find your local food supplier

Looks like it could be a great addition – information is one of the 3 key dynamics of the spiral of empowerment (motivation and action being the others). Local Food Advisor is not the first of it’s kind – I also like bigbarn.co.uk but that site doesn’t cover Ireland.

If it’s going to be valuable in an Irish context, we need to improve the listings and other content. So if you’re a producer, retailer, butcher, restauranteur or farmers market please register and boost the number of Irish entries. Also there are currently no Irish regional recipes and only two Irish rare breeds.

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