Slow Food Oxon - November update


Dear all

The leaves are falling and the rain is settling in, but the rat race is still on for all of us with no sign of hibernation starting anytime soon!

First of all, apologies from the committee for not having quite managed to pull out our 'seasonal events' this autumn, weather and time resources did not allow us to organise the now popular mushroom foray nor did the sparse sloe harvest let any hope for a fruity tipple at a later stage this winter.

I have heard and read that the book signing dinner and the latest meeting of the Slow Food Book Club had been very successful: many thanks Liz for making these happen!

We are still working out on whether or not we can go ahead with a Xmas event. The beef farm as initially planned can no longer host us. I would like to see a repeat of the Xmas pot luck dinner we had at Jane's last year: we just need a date (11/12, how does it suit you?), a venue (all suggestions are welcome, there's currently only one option in line but very uncertain) and people to attend!

2/ Next year's program

The committee gathered a month ago to put a plan for next year together. As mentioned in the intro, we are all running faster than ever and we thought that we would review our strategy of monthly events and get on the famous stream line way: fewer but bigger events...

see the list below  (in random order at this stage) - WE CAN ONLY MAKE IT WORK WITH YOUR SUPPORT (TIME MAINLY!)

- the Slongest lunch of the year:

This is supposed to be the Slow Food Oxon event for next year but to make it work we need your help.

We would like to make Slow Food Oxon visible to everyone in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, aiming a promoting our local producers, any produces with potential to be presented as an Ark of Taste, giving the opportunity to local food communities such as the 'Thames Valley Organic growers' who represented Oxon at the last Terra Madre to make us understand what they do, how they do it and how do their produce taste. e are also hoping to engage with local 'Slow Food' chefs such as Will from the Vaults to promote further their daily effort to support local food communities

We thought it would make things easier if we were to split the task in different categories, having one person of the committee chairing each work stream and taking responsibility for delivering this part of the organisation.

-                     overall project management (SFO committee): define scope of event, find patrons/sponsors accordingly

-                     venue booking and setting,

-                     supply (including sponsorship),

-                     communications,

-                     cash flow

As you can see, it is rather vast and can only happen if we all pull our efforts together.

There are quite a lot of things to be poached from events such as Taste of London in the setting of this event such as 'monkey' money prepaid with the ticket... etc...

- the Children Food Festival - June 09:

The festival organiser has approach Tamara to engage with the local food group. Tamara consequently presented the project to the committee. We decided that the event was a great opportunity to raise awareness amongst the younger generation about food provenance, taste and growing/transformation methods. We have engaged with Slow Food UK to gain their commitment and make the Slow Food involvement a national event. The letter has been sent 2 weeks ago with no feedback to date...

Please us have your views, ideas, relevant contacts for this event, to help us make Slow Food impact greater that what we did 2 years ago.

On our suggestions to the SFUK board, we have a full tent managed by Slow Food, inviting children to give their favourite recipes / food stuff with the intention to compile the outcome into a publication at the end of the Festival

Following a BBC4 program on understanding of farming by UK population, I would suggest farmers demo on god knows what but I'd quite like the idea of finding young attractive farmers, talking about what they do on a daily basis to kill the stuffy, dusty image that people have

- 2009 AGM

We will be publishing the financial results of the convivium within a month, aiming at running the AGM at the beginning of February.

Venue and date to be confirmed by the end of the year.

- Hosting Moldova Convivium members in Oxford: set up date, organise logistics, visits, lectures, dinners and all that and make noise about it in the press. Tamara has organised a review dinner for those of you who went there in September this year

Your events:

- I would like to invite all members to set up farm visits, tasting sessions or other, events for which the committee will be happy to support you in the organisation

- I'd like to see if there is something to be done as a follow up event with the Wykham farm and to promote lamb at the right season... maybe one for Manuel and Ros to get their teeth in this one, as they were the ones to introduce us to the farm at the first place.

2/ Oxford Bread Campaign

We have been contacted by Ruth West to alert you about an initiative she is leading in Oxford regarding bread (local made, from locally grown grains).

She is launching this movement on the 26/11 at the Vaults, the event being sponsored by the venue.

Please do let us know by the 22/11 if you intend to attend so that we could communicate numbers to Ruth

The committee has been discussing on the level of support we can provide to this new group - financially and time wise: the amount of money is yet to be decided at this point in time, pending on being provided with further info on how the money will be used.

This is a great opportunity to walk the talk in terms of good, clean and fair and we should be behind this idea .

Further details:

The Oxford Bread Group Launch Event, November 26, 2008 at 7:00 pm at The Vaults & Garden Café, University Church of St Mary the Virgin,  Radcliffe Square, Oxford OX1 4AH

Your chance to join the Oxford Bread Group (OBG)  and get beautiful bread made from stone ground flour milled from ancient wheat varieties grown on local organic farms.    Taste the breads - provided by Geoff Coleman, The Cornfield Bakery, Wheatley.    Enjoy a glass of wine and some cheese provided by The Vaults and Garden Café.

Hear from:  
Andrew Whitley
- baker and founder of Bread Matters and The Real Bread Campaign 
Colin Tudge
- biologist and author of Feeding People is Easy  
John Letts
- archaeobotanist & wheat grower

Join in the discussion:   
a.. the Real Bread and Slow Bread Campaigns  
b.. the problems associated with industrial baking and the supermarket loaf  
c.. the need to localise food production and improve the sustainability of our farming systems  
d.. the development of the ‘heritage blend' flour that will be used for OBG bread  
e.. how the OBG hopes to provide its members with a tasty, and fair-priced local alternative.   

3/ Slow Food Student

Terra Madre worked wonders in terms of giving the opportunity to all to meet and discuss. I had a brief meeting there with Paul, the new leader for the Slow Food Student group here in Oxford. There seems to be a lot of ideas coming from there, in terms of gathering all food associations from the area. We are running a further meeting in 2 weeks time to establish the nature of the relationship between our 2 associations, aiming at spreading the Slow Food word faster, better to a wider audience - will report back!

4/ Terra Madre and El Salone del gusto

There is so much to say about this event. I have endeavoured to give you a day by day flavour of this huge gathering of food and people, taking pages of notes (yet to be added to our website). It'd be great to have your views, comments and pictures if you went it was overall extremely inspiring and motivating, we just have to make it all happen now!

The other key encounter for me was with the Thames Valley growers food community representatives, who anted better to understand what our convivium was doing and what we could do to support them

Aneke suggested organising cross European meeting with farmers running similar activities in another country. I like this a lot however haven't yet figured out how we can support this.

Finally I met with Slow Food France who is putting together a 'European Terra Madre' event next year: Euro Gusto (Tours, 28-30/11/09, This could be a good starting point for implementing Aneke's idea, who knows!

I am aware it has been a very long update and thanks for persisting if you have reached these lines.

I am looking forward to hearing form you all.

Kind regards,