Madagascar Vanilla at one at the Terra Madre event.
WHERE in the world could you sample and purchase the delights of small-scale food and drink producers from all five continents, participate in stimulating talks, debates and conferences, enjoy taste workshops, hands-on cooking classes, guided personal shopping tours and much more, under one roof ?
Well such was the case in Turin last month, where Slow Foods biennial event, Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, took place. This was the first year that Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre joined forces and the five-day event wowed its visitors, including me, with a smorgasbord of colours and flavours whilst providing the perfect platform for discussing political issues vital to the world’s future and celebrating the traditions and future of food and farming.
The event brought farmers, producers, chefs, delegates, visitors and food communities together to showcase and celebrate the diversity of food, grown and made by small-scale farmers and artisanal producers.
The uniting theme is the simple principles of good, clean and fair production and a commitment to producing food that is defined not only by excellent taste, but also by environmental sustainability and social justice.
Ireland was proudly represented by our raw milk cheese makers, with the busy stand serving the likes of Bellingham Blue Cheese and Fermoy Natural Cheese.
Conferences featuring world-renowned speakers, activists and panels of food producers and food community representatives were held throughout the five days.
Pressing global issues such as climate change, food sovereignity, health, labelling, urban agriculture, renewable resources, GMOs, edible education, water, animal welfare and much more were discussed.
Honouring the international flavour of Terra Madre, presenters spoke in their native languages, with participants donning headsets which relayed simultaneous translation.
With so many conferences and amazing workshops, the real difficulty was in deciding what to attend. High-calibre speakers such as Carlo Petrini, Alice Waters and Vandana Shiva addressed crowds, both at the opening ceremony and at smaller conferences.
Shiva, president and founder of Navdanya and vice-president of Slow Food, is one of the world’s most rousing speakers on issues surrounding the earth, seeds, water, education and biodiversity.
To add to the plethora of Salone possibilities, there was an extensive list of bookable workshops with tastings, ranging from The ABC of Coffee from Plant to Cup to Classic Pairings: British Beer and Cheese.
Young people also play an important role in the Slow Food Movement and so too was their participation at the recent event. The Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN), brought together young farmers, cooks, artisans, activists and students from five continents in a host of conferences, practical workshops, film screenings, debates and communal cook-ups.
I learned how to make a vertical hanging kitchen garden by tying together empty 2-litre plastic bottles with wire to make a bottle tower which can then be used for the container gardening of vegetables and herbs. There are lots of videos on the internet that will guide you step-by-step through the process.
Nearby, was an area ran by the University of Gastronomic Sciences, where activities included themed eatins and personal shopper tours that saw bi-lingual students guide visitors throughout the vast markets.
The gardener in me eternally seeks out a green space and the event also delivered on this front. In the middle of the oval arena, a 400-square-metre space, covered in soil and crossed by footpaths, was planted with a huge variety of vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin, amaranth, carrots, medicinal herbs.
It demonstrated a wide range of organic gardening techniques such as intercropping, DIY methods of drip irrigation and fences made using only natural materials from the garden, such as branches, bamboo canes and spiny shrubs.
The garden represented the 25 countries involved in the A Thousand Gardens in Africa project, a Slow Food concept aimed at creating good, clean and fair school gardens, community gardens and family gardens in Africa.
For more about the Turin event or joining the Slow Food Movement in Ireland, check out slowfoodireland.com. The next meeting of world food communities in Turin is expected to take place in 2014, so start planning your visit now.
¦ The annual opening of DJ Murphy’s Bride Park Cottage at Killumney, near Ballincollig, Co Cork, continues all this weekend and next. Viewing takes place today and tomorrow from noon to 8pm. The proceeds from the entry fee of €10 will aid Marymount Hospice and Cork Simon. Visitors can move through the cottage or lounge in any of the rooms before adjourning to the kitchen where seasonal refreshments are served in non-stop relay. There will also be a chance to take part in a monster raffle or purchase arrangements from a huge display especially created in one of the many courtyard building adjoining this listed building.
¦ A warm welcome awaits those who arrive at the free Christmas Demonstration at Carmel’s Garden Centre Kilworth, Co Cork, on Tuesday, December 11, beginning at 10.30am. This Simon Morning features Rose Hickey who will demonstrate and create Christmas ideas for your home. All arrangements will be raffled. Carmel is also collecting clothes, duvets, scarves, hats, and gloves for Simon. Refreshments will be served.
¦ Blarney and District Flower and Garden Club will hold a Christmas Demonstration with the theme “Step into Christmas” by Margaret Ahearne in the Castle Hotel, Blarney, on Thursday next at 8pm. Tickets, which include supper, are €15 are available from Sylvia at 086-3213048.
¦ Lough Flower and Garden Club will hold a Christmas Demonstration with the theme “Coming Home for Christmas” in the SMA Hall Wilton on Tuesday, November 27, at 8pm.
¦ Alpine/Hardy Plant Society host Billy Moore (Dublin) to speak on “Alpines Home and Away” on Thursday next at 8pm in the Llavanagh Centre Ballintemple.
¦ Sunday's Well Flower and Garden Club will hold a Christmas Demonstration with Rita Moore on Wednesday next at 8pm in St Vincent's Parish Centre.
¦ Eileen McKenna from Co Louth will give a gala demonstration to members of the Cork Flower Club on Tuesday next in Canon Packham Hall Douglas beginning at 8pm.
¦ Ladysbridge and District Flower and Garden Club will host a Christmas demonstration with Eileen O’Brien on Monday next at 8pm in the Garryvoe Hotel. Sales table, raffle and tea will form part of the evening’s schedule.
¦ Mallow Flower and Garden Club will hold its Annual Christmas Gala Demonstration by Breda Crowley on Tuesday next in the GAA Centre Carrigoon beginning at 8pm. Entry €10.
¦ Griffins series of free lectures next Monday Wednesday and Friday at noon will feature “Glowing Holiday Mantles”.
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