Food lovers and families at Penrith on a Plate can enjoy a helping of knowledge about where their food comes from thanks to sponsorship from Newton Rigg College.
The college has contributed £200 towards the festival’s signature event, Penrith on a Plate on Saturday 18 July, which will fund a ‘farm to fork’ roadshow bringing animals and agriculture to the town centre.
“Eden Food and Farming Festival is a celebration of Cumbrian farming right on our doorstep and we wanted to be part of it,” said Matt Bagley, head of agriculture at Newton Rigg. “One of our duties is to showcase farming and rural pursuits in Cumbria, and part of that is educating people about where their food comes from. As well as training our students, we host a lot of visiting groups at the college along with farming discussion events and taster days for schools, and our involvement at Penrith on a Plate complements that work very well.”
Creating opportunities for the public to learn about their food’s journey to their plate is at the heart of the community-led festival, which is also funded by Eden District Council, Penrith Business Improvement District (BID) and Pride in Penrith Lottery, supported by DiscoverPenrith.co.uk.
The ‘farm to fork’ roadshow supported this year by Newton Rigg proved extremely popular with festival-goers of all ages when it appeared at Penrith on a Plate for the first time last summer. Children and adults thronged to the exhibition run by Westmorland County Agricultural Society to chat to farmers, hold chicks and meet sheep and cows, as well as learning from the interactive exhibits and displays.
“Farming is a vital part of Eden’s economy and yet it’s surprising how many local people have never been on a farm or had an opportunity to learn about the industry, and that’s where Eden Food and Farming Festival is making a difference,” Matt said.
Richard Utting from the festival organiser, Penrith Partnership, agreed.
“We’ve all seen the stories in the national papers about young people thinking cheese grows on trees or not knowing that bacon comes from a pig,” Richard said. “I’d like to think that people in our rural area are more aware of how their food is produced but one of the reasons we got involved with the festival was to increase understanding of food and beverage production in our area.”
The week-long festival offers a dozen events – most of which are free – giving local people and visitors the chance to visit farms, meet producers and growers and even delve into food history in the area.