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Transition Belper at the Belper Food and Drink Fair

Photo - stall at Belper Food fair 2010

Transition Belper’s activities around food; growing, jam and pickle making, food miles, local production and less dependence on production-line ready meals and fast food began in 2010 with a stall at the Belper Food and Drink Fair.
It has continued through concerns that there are insufficient allotments locally (although there are plots available elsewhere in Amber Valley), to the current enthusiasm for the idea of one or more community gardens being expressed on the Belper Fruit and Veg Forum.

In following this idea Belper Town Council are looking for potential sites and are hopeful we can contribute to Belper in Bloom in 2012.

Here’s an overview of the 2010 and 2011 Food Fair activity and a recipe for spiced fruit muffins from Barbara Goodall.

Transition Belper's stall at the Food Fair 2011

Throwing ideas round to do something different than the previous year (see below) and yet work with the same principles, we came up with the following ideas:

  • Growing and selling herbs
  • Making and selling homemade jam from locally grown fruit
  • Comparing the food miles of foods from an allotment, local shop and a supermarket

Members planted seeds at one meeting and other members took them home to germinate and nurture them for several months. There were borage seedlings, tomatoes and thyme to name a few. I split herb plants and potted them on from my and friends gardens such as chives, various mints and marjorams. We wished to show diversity in the species of herbs, linking the growing to offering suggestions of how to use them. These created quite a display and we sold them at a reasonable price.

We collected seasonal fruit from gardens we were invited to as well as our own. One gooseberry bush gave us 11lb of fruit! (Gooseberry and elderflower jam was a bit different too). Blackcurrants were easier to jam than pick! Although one member has lovely memories of a relaxing peaceful, afternoon with the sun on her shoulders merrily picking away…

Raspberries were a delight on both counts.

Strawberries we picked and bought from a local fruit farm.  We spent a glorious hot Sunday morning bent over rows of strawberry plants in an enormous field. The smell was divine and flavour perfect. Now that’s why you can’t beat British Strawberries in season!!!!
Plenty of rain for plumpness and plenty of sunshine for sweetness, sometimes a difficult jam to set, though not with the best fruit!!!

I dusted off my Mum’s brass jam pan of a fine design (I remembered why as my skills were re awakened and honed for some ‘Good Sets’), and popped the saucers in the fridge and the jam jars, donated by habitual collectors, to sterilise in the oven. Members joined in the different jam making sessions over the summer. We all did a bit; from keeping the pan at rolling boil to putting on the cellophane circles and elastic bands to writing labels.

One member made some delicious bread from locally milled flour that soon tempted visitors to the stall to taste the jams. Most of the 60 odd jars found new homes by the end of the afternoon!

Food Fair 2011Goosberries ready for making jamphoto - picking goosberries

Transition Belper’s stall the Food Fair Summer 2010

Our aim

Working with some of the principles which we had identified as a group to be important when looking for practical steps to live with the transition from where we are now, to living with the future effects of Peak Oil and climate change and also having fun.

  • Living with more of a sense of community
  • Keeping traditional skills alive
  • Growing and eating our own produce

In essence… promoting a more old fashioned, traditional way of living… Like when I was Young!!!

We wished to introduce some ideas of Transition Towns to local people by inviting children to dirty their hands and have some fun potting on a seedling then to take it home; encouraging them to look after it and watch it grow.  Thus encouraging another generation to discover the pleasures and tribulations of growing your own food.

Highlighting the fashionable traditional skill of baking as a way to encourage visitors to the stall and discuss the ‘way we used to do things’ or still do, we discovered that families with two or three generations present were enjoying the Food Fair.  We offered for sale lavender, spiced raspberry and carrot and courgette muffins baked by our own fair hands.   The locally sourced ingredients helped promote local shops and showed ways of using seasonal fruits from our own gardens.

Demonstrations of making Bug Boxes and making your own were popular too.

There were opportunities for discussion and information to take away about the differences between sustainable and non - sustainable food production as well as muffin recipes and the Transition Message.

All in all a very successful day!

Spiced Seasonal Fruit Muffins


8oz  wholemeal flour
3tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
4 tbsp honey
3oz butter
handful of fresh ‘raspberries’
1 egg lightly beaten
8 floz milk


Sift flour, bicarb, BP and spice
Melt butter and honey
Mix into dry ingredients
Gently mix in egg and milk
Pour this runny mixture into 12 bun cases set in a muffin tin
Bake for 30 minutes until cooked
Test with a skewer
Lick your lips

Don’t forget to try and source all your ingredients locally

Pre heat oven gas no. 5 or 190ºC


Food Fair 2011 Food Fair 2010

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