The Gower Fields to Forks project, which has linked pupils at Bishopston Comprehensive School with local food producers, concluded on October 21 with a meal for hundreds, all made with local produce.
Over 420 meals were served and 680 chocolate and beetroot brownies with whipped cream flew out of the kitchen.
Over the past three months, pupils have been visiting local farms, learning about local supply chains and healthy cooking, designing menus for the Gower Fields to Forks meal, and marketing the event to staff and pupils at the school.
Gower Fields to Forks was conceived and delivered by 4theRegion, a membership alliance working to bring about positive change in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The other partners were Swansea Council, Castell Howell, who delivered the food, and numerous suppliers coordinated by Gower Farmers’ Market.
All those involved were rewarded with a huge turnout for the meal and plenty of enthusiastic feedback about the food. It is hoped that the project will now act as a model to drive more local sourcing for school meals in the region.
With this in mind, the Gower Fields to Forks project will be presented and discussed at the Food for the Region conference, taking place online on November 29 and 30. The conference will encourage collaboration on all things relating to growing, producing, distributing, sharing and caring about food in South West Wales.
Carys Davis, deputy head at Bishopston Comprehensive School, said: “We are so pleased with this project, which is aimed at promoting Gower farming and using local produce throughout our school. We’ve had many meetings to get this up and running, we’ve worked some fantastic people, and we’re absolutely thrilled with the results. I’ve never ever seen this hall so busy, and we’ve had so much positive feedback about the brownies in particular – and the pupils loved the barbecue chicken and the mac and cheese. They’ve had a fantastic experience, and we really hope that this will springboard us to use in more local produce in the in the days and weeks ahead.”
Zoe Antrobus, director of 4theRegion, said: “The pupils and staff thoroughly enjoyed the whole event and have helped, supported and guided the project from day one. Our few remaining local vegetable farmers benefitted from the purchase of produce directly from their farms and had the opportunity to talk about the challenges that come with producing fresh produce on Gower.
“It has been our great pleasure to work so closely with an amazing collaborative team to bring one simple but profound idea to life: bringing Welsh-grown foods to Welsh school plates.”
Julie Jones, founder of project management consultancy Overbyhere Associates, which is collaborating with 4theRegion to deliver the project, added:
“It’s been an honour and pleasure to witness the dedication of the staff teams at Bishopston Comprehensive School, and the Swansea Council catering teams, along with their procurement leads.
“We were challenged to make this happen by our long-term partners Castell Howell, who have been informative and supportive throughout, ensuring our farmers get a fair market price for their vegetables and produce in the hope that they will be encouraged to continue growing and improving our local supply chains and food security. We are thrilled at the prospect of nutritious carbon-reduced seasonal fayre being brought to our future generations.”
Emma Oliver, farmer at Western Slade Farm said: “Those who know me, know that I am very passionate about Gower and its amazing past, as well as what is to come. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be a part of such an important project, and then to actually be involved in making it happen, has blown me away.
“It has been a pleasure to work with all the organisations involved in what has been an incredible opportunity and a fantastic experience. I’ve loved every minute and look forward to what the future holds for local farms, growers and businesses.”
Ed Morgan, group corporate social responsibility manager at Castell Howell foods, said: “The project was a real success and shows the value of collaboration between all partners with a can-do attitude.
“It did bring to the fore the ongoing challenges and opportunities of integrating the supply chain all the way from the farm through to the school caterers.”
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