Winchester gears up for July's Hampshire Food Festival

The Hampshire Food Festival is being held in July and it is now in its twelfth year. It started as a weekend show in Winchester but has now grown to a county-wide event that lasts for a whole month. The festival is a display of Hampshire’s farming and food-producing methods and the aim is to try and get people to think about where their food comes from. Last year it attracted 221,000 visitors.

Local producers are a vital part of any rural community and the Hampshire Food Festival also want to get people to support their local farmers and food producers. These producers and also local crafts people often find it a big struggle when they are competing against giant food chains and big supermarkets so it is important that they are helped in their battle to survive.

Richard Jones is the owner of Hyden Farm in Clanfield. This is a three hundred acre farm where the animals are all free range and no pesticides or chemical fertilisers are used. Richard says that because of this the natural wild flowers and herbs have a chance to grow and flourish alongside the grass. The cattle wander freely along with the ducks and chickens. It is like a scene on a farm from a century ago.

Richard says that this is what we should be getting back to but that it is a struggle with the giant producers able to produce food cheaply on a large scale. He says that people should be aware of where their food comes from and support their local traders who are so vital to the community.

Richard will take visitors on tours of Hyden Farm during the festival so that they can see how things are done there. He will be giving talks on animal welfare and pesticide and chemical-free farming methods. Cattle grazing on this grass produce better quality and more flavoursome meat. The wild flowers and herbs are also very important to the eco-system.

The festival organiser, Sophie Boxall, says that people are becoming more aware of what they are eating, especially over the last ten years. She says that nowadays many people want to know where their food comes from. There are many other events planned for the festival as well. These will include orchard tours, vineyard tours, cookery demonstrations, chocolate-making demonstrations and beer and wine tasting.