|Lots of empty plates at the ‘picnic’
When I mentioned to friends and neighbours that I was attending a Foodcamp organised by Savour Kilkenny as part of their annual celebration of local food, the first question asked was “what’s a foodcamp”.
Billed on their website as “A day where food professionals (chefs, producers) mix with foodies (journalists, bloggers, consumers) and agency heads (Bord Bia, Bord Iascaigh Mhara)”, and making Ireland more sustainable in it’s food production as the subject matter, it certainly lived up to it’s title. What the organiser’s mightn’t have realised was the inspiration and positivity it would create.
There’s been quite a buzz about it on Twitter and Facebook for the past few days, heightened by the publication of the schedule of speakers.
|Spinach & Feta Puff Triangles
Many of the attendees were talking about the ‘picnic lunch’ where we were to bring along some food, and some more to share.
It was with a little trepidation that I placed my tin full of Spinach and Feta Puff Triangles on the long table. Why trepidation? Well I’m not a professional chef, or even an enthusiastic amateur – I just like to cook food at home that we grow in our garden. The parcels were a bit of an experiment, an adapted recipe that I’ll happily share if anybody enjoyed them enough to want the recipe, but dare I say that it was the first time I’d ever made them (think I broke a golden rule there in a room full of foodies).
Back to the speakers….. there were so many talks to choose from. In the morning we could pick out three from a potential eleven relevant to us and our industry.
What a tough decision! Do you listen to someone you’re familiar with and admire or something that’s more relevant to your business? I opted for the later but tried to talk with the first group during the break – putting names to faces. However, there was nothing to worry about. They were not ‘talks’ at all, more discussion, questions and interaction. And if we did miss something that later appeared the one ‘not to have missed’ (such as Honey, The Oldest Known Medicine to Mankind by Philip McCabe), it should be available tomorrow from a stream put together by Ken McGuire.
I was delighted to have been at the talk where Caroline Hennessy of http://www.bibliocook.com/ and Kristin Jensen or http://www.dinnerdujour.org/ announced their launch - The Irish Food Bloggers Association. A coming together of foodies blogs with links and advice.
What shouldn’t have surprised me throughout the day was just how many people there were using social media, and the power that social networking has – be it blogs, twitter or facebook.
Personally I’ve only become aware of as many local food producers as I have, including Goatsbridge Trout Farm and Knockdrinna Cheese, through the use of Twitter and Facebook. When you’re new to networking you tend to look for people to follow, and often start with local people and businesses. I don’t buy newspapers and I avoid the daily news now whenever possible – it’s way too negative. So I choose all the news I want to hear through Twitter, and wouldn’t have heard of the food camp at all if it hadn’t been from this media.
As I’ve become aware of these local ’artisan’ suppliers I actively look out for their products and tell friends and family about them too, suggesting that other friends and contacts follow and look out for them.
There are many more points I could make and lots of scribbles in my notebook too of ideas and observations, but maybe that’s for another day.
In the meantime I want to congratulate the organisers of this festival first of all for the great organisation on the day and choice of venue, and secondly for inspiring me again.
Even with the most positive attitude and the best will in the world, after a while all the doom and gloom seems to filter through, however much you try to avoid it. Today however was spent with positive people who are actively trying to improve their situations. People who are proud of their products and their food producing communities and who want to help and work with each other. I hope that other towns and cities throughout Ireland will come up with similar ‘camps’ to get people talking and working together again. Ireland really needs it right now.
And lastly I hope that all this positivity will carry me through the next week of the school holidays, and on throughout the year!