Archive for May, 2012

Penclawdd Local Produce Market

21 May

Ryan, from Little Welsh Deli told me about this local produce market and was so enthusiastic about it that on Saturday I drove over to see just what was going on. It was well worth the drive down to Swansea because I actually found quite a few signs that pointed my in the direction of the Community Centre. Other food festival organisers please note! But it’s annoying that this market, like many others across Wales doesn’t always have the Highways Department singing from their hymn sheet. This is sad especially when the organisers put out and take down their signs at the beginning and end of each market. It’s a huge pity that Highways and councils can’t work more closely and assist these volunteers rather than making their life more difficult. They are providing a great service not only for the traders but to the community too.

There was a craft fair running to which I always think is a great idea and another great idea is that ladies from various charities were serving tea, coffee and biscuits. It’s a super way for local charities to raise funds. All traders got a free drink as they were setting up and the lovely ladies were very efficient looking after the traders during the morning and clearing up the central table
were shoppers could have a rest and a chat before heading off.

Andrew Spowart is the organiser and it was good to catch up with him and congratulate him face-to-face for a job well done. There were only 13 food stands, but Andrew is very strict and rightly so that the stands must be different. You will not find five stands selling jams here! Little Welsh Deli of course were there, the stand run efficiently as always by clever cook and business lady Claire. If you’ve not yet tried their pasties – boy are you missing out! Hubby Ryan was busy too, but over at the Smallholder Show at Builth. We saw other familiar faces but also quite a lot that were new to us which was really interesting, not all had business cards or company signs on their stands, but in fairness some were new traders and I’m sure they’ll soon learn a few tricks of the food trade.

Another familiar face was Mike Pett, the organiser from Bridgend Farmers’ Market, Mike runs Pant Derwen Apiary, selling fantastic Welsh honey as well as many other bee products.

What is encouraging though is the way the Gower/Swansea area markets try to work together, helping and learning from each other, what I find terribly disappointing is that Fork2Fork with £800k of European funding has not been the lifeline that markets, farm shops and box schemes really needed.

Andrew impressed me in how much he cared that the footfall on Saturday was not as busy as he and of course the traders wanted, but the modest stand prices reflect that. Andrew also does regular leaflet drops around the estates and caravan parks and places posters  locally too, so I’m sure things will improve. The bonus was that most people that did attend, did make purchases. I think it’s just important that we all try and get the message across that food from markets and festivals isn’t often as expensive as the supermarkets and certainly beats the supermarkets on quality and you knowfor certain where your local produce comes from. This is another message that Fork2Fork seemed to have failed to get across to the Welsh public.

Penclawdd Local Produce Market takes place on 3rd Saturday of each month 9.30 – 12.30.

Bridgend Farmers’ Market takes place on the fourth Saturday of the month 10.00 – 1.00.


FOI 5995 – Welsh Food Festival Funding – At Last

17 May

Was it worth waiting for? I’ll await your views!!!!

It’s taken a lot of time and a great deal of effort to get this list and I had to resort to asking for it under Freedom Of Information Act, so I hope that you appreciate the effort involved!!!! I’m not sure that you’ll agree with Wag’s and Visit Wales’ decisions, but sure you will let me know by posting your comments or email me with your views.

My initial concern was that two events that run in early March Saundersfoot and a Swansea festival and will run again 2013 but still count as in this year’s budget have not been shown. So I’m asking if this is an error or if these events are running again next year. My other surprise is that Fish Week now appears in this budget taking out a whacking £31, 671. I thought that this event was funded under RDP for 2007-13 and last year received grant funding of £55,636, plus £30,711 from Pembrokeshire County Council, in 2010 grant funding was £77,157. I have also asked why Fish Week is now being taken from the festival budget.

In case you wish to know, 52 food festivals applied for the Food Festival Grant Funding Support for 2012/13  and to save you totting up, I’ll tell you that only 33 festivals were lucky enough to get funding, with some as always, appearing luckier than others. I’m interested to know if any of the food festivals got the amount of money they applied for. I’d also like to know how those in power wokred out the amounts they were going to offer each festival, but even I can’t be bothered to pursue that one!!!

I do wonder about the wisdom, or lack of wisdom, in that Newport and Neath have each been given £8k – £9k but they are  running on the same weekend, as it Brecon, though Brecon will obviously draw from Powys for producers. But do we really have enough quality producers to put on three good festivals?  Time will tell, but I do hope these three festivals, maybe more than most put some serious energy into their promotion and marketing. Traders you have been warned, please ask before you pay, because unhappy Best Of Welsh & Border producers I do not need!

Wag’s ‘Big 3’: Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy have all had budget reductions from last year, but 10/11 was the final year on a 3 year plan, funded under the Total Supply Chain Efficiency Funding. These all had huge increases from 08/09 – 10/11, for example Conwy went from £25k, to £43k to £41k and now this year gets £33,683.61. What continues to puzzle me is that wag has been sounding off for years that festivals must try to get to be self-funding and these three have the best chance for sponsorship, but they are still well funded as wag has now decreed that they have been awarded ‘international’ status which is an easy way of wag saying: “don’t worry we’ll keep funding you guys”…………………………..
Any further updates will of course be posted.

Name of Date Amount of
Festival Funding
Gorseinon Food   Festival 28-Apr £8,460.00
Riverside Food   Festival 20-May £2,249.00
Caerphilly Food Festival 26-May £9,753.00
Welsh Perry   & Cider Festival 1 – 4 June £5,260.00
Llyn Land & Seafood Festival 2 – 3 June £8,230.00
Gwyl Fwyd Castell Newydd Emlyn 16-Jun £7,133.80
The Pembrokeshire Fish Week Festival 23 June – 1 July £31,671.00
Hay Food Festival 30-Jun £2,601.00
Llandysul Food Festival 30-Jun £5,644.00
Festival – Margam Market Day
01-Jul £9,889.20
Cardiff International Food & Drink 6 – 8 July £25,608.85
Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Aberaeron 08-Jul £9,500.00
Eating Green /Cider Palooza Festival 12 – 14 July £5,000.00
Really Wild Food & Countryside Festival 27 – 28 July £11,963.77
Lampeter Food Festival 28-Jul £6,150.00
Carmarthen Food Festival 01-Aug £6,500.00
Cardigan River & Food Festival 11 – 12 August £10,400.00
Welsh Food Festival 1 – 2 September £6,225.00
Aberystwyth Food & Drink Festival 15-Sep £7,418.61
Abergavenny Food Festival 15–16 September £46,800.00
Narberth Food Festival 21–23 September £8,161.40
Mold Food and Drink Festival 22- 23 September £8,025.00
Feastival  (Bridgend) 28- 29 September £9,900.00
Newport Food Festival 5 – 6 October £8,105.97
Neath Food and Drink Festival 5 – 6 October £9,999.00
Brecon Beacons Food Festival 06-Oct £4,480.00
Anglesey Oyster Festival 13 – 14 October £3,098.00
Mumbles Oyster Fair 19 – 21 October £9,500.00
Llangollen Food Festival 20 – 21 October £4,000.00
Gwledd Conwy Feast 25 – 28 October £33,683.61
Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival 27 – 28 October £9,900.00
Hay Winter Food Festival 24-Nov £1,771.00
Abergavenny Christmas Food & Drink 11-Dec £2,200.00


Wag’s list has now gone up on and of course it has been sent around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, so at least some of the rumours which have been frantically doing the rounds, will now be quashed.


‘The People’s Choice Awards’

14 May

In Pembrokeshire on Saturday I saw a leaflet in a coffee shop that on first glance I thought was  advertising Tesco, luckily I did not ignore it because apparently it was published by True Taste. What they are looking for with this is to promote ‘The People’s Choice Awards’.  Wag are hoping that the Welsh public will visit their website, which is one way to help raise their rankings – and vote for their favourite farm shops, fishmongers, butchers, delis, restaurants, tea rooms and wag will take it from there.

Which I presume means they will send their chosen inspectors to those that have been nominated and then wag will again make their final decision.

Hopefully some of our Best Of Welsh & Borders will get their customers organised and get them voting!!!!!

I’ve only ust seen this and thinks it closes end of May, so it hardly gives businesses time to get their customers organised does it?

I’ll reserve judgement on wag’s latest idea ……………………………but their literature certainly gave more prominence to the supermarket logo than True Taste logo, not sure who gave approval for that to go out some Marketing Maestro no doubt.


West Wales Food Festival

14 May

This event was held over the weekend at the National Botanical Gardens and as this is not one of my favourite venues, I still went and hoped some lessons had been learnt from last year. As Ian and I left the entrance, the shuttle train had just arrived and Ian heard the driver shout to a couple that they were waiting in the wrong place, and let me tell you that the lady was in a wheelchair and an elderly gentleman was with her. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I shouldhave walked back and told the driver just what I thought of his attitude and hope that he never has the misfortune to be in charge of a wheelchair, let alone have to be restricted to one!!! As far as I’m aware it’s not clear at all where visitors should wait for a ride, but surely the point here is that this couple were just that – visitors!!!

I carried on with my walk to the summit, well at least to the festival and thought how lucky the event had been with the weather, which although windy, was at least dry. There was no improvement in the layout of tradestands, the main marquee had the
same barrier down the middle, which I didn’t feel helped to create any atmosphere or buzz. The outside, again in my view, was even worse. There was what was supposed to be a hot food area for visitors, which consisted of just 4 separate pagodas. Not too impressive and just one wooden table and bench which apparently one of the traders moved there himself. Oh sorry, I nearly forgot that the NBG had made the most of this opportunity to erect their own BBQ unit and of course their cafes were open too. The only part I thought really worked was a run of market-style stands that were selling a range of coffee, hot food, welsh cakes, brownies, cheese etc. I’d have loved to see the space planned out professionally and all traders with market-style stands, lots of tables and chairs to encourage visitors to buy and eat from the traders. Is that not one of the objectives of a food festival? There was children’s entertainment and there were wandering musicians too, but perhaps because the stands were so spread out, the place didn’t buzz at all.

I was pleased to see so many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers there, but I’d have been a lot happier if they’d had even one day out of two with decent trading.

My main complaint about this event is that every visitor attending the food festival had to pay £8.50 to go in, yes £8.50, a figure I just cannot believe. Are adults going to be happy to spend £17.00 to watch the food demonstrations, well ok , of course some were, but hardly enough of them to then go around the food stands and spend what money they had left with the traders. One producer said he’d asked one of the committee why people had to pay to come into a food festival, bearing in mind this entrance charge is on a par with Abergavenny Food Festival and he was told it was because this festival is not funded by Wag. Why NBG couldn’t have offered this as a free weekend entry and used it for their own marketing is another puzzle for me and the traders to ponder over.

Over the years I have suggested to many traders before they pay their hard-earned money up front, just ask the organisers what promotion they are doing for their event. Sooner or later this message will hit home to them and then they can make a
more sensible decision as to whether to to attend or not. I not sure what marketing this event did, I know I didn’t get a press releases about it and the first festival sign I saw was when I got there!

But what was even more annoying was that going onto their website it was full of ‘what a busy programme we’ve got’ but nowhere could I find a list of producers attending, now does that make sense? Am I the only person who might have wanted that information? Perhaps the event was advertised in their local paper and I was told that there was an advert in Western Mail, which would make sense, as that paper’s owners publish NBG’s own magazine so possibly helping each other out? I have no idea how many people came through the NBG gate and how it compared to a normal sunny and windy weekend, but what is relevant to me is that the producers I talked to, and I talked to a lot of them in the five hours I was there, had not had a profitable time. So what was the point for them?

I enjoyed catching up with one of my favourite chefs, Gareth Johns, owner and proprietor of The Wynnstay, Machynlleth, he’s such a great ambassador for Wales, but not impressed that he was scheduled on at the same time as a pasta making Masterclass with Angela Gray. If that makes sense to the organisers, it sure doesn’t make sense to me.

I’m confused how the food producers, which were charged around £85.00 to attend for two days, somehow didn’t seem to be the priority at this food festival.

I wish these food festivals would have the commonsense to invite a local trader to come onto the committee and help in the planning, because at least the basics such as layout and marketing could then be sorted out. Surely that’s not too difficult is it?


Hope For Suppliers With Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill

11 May

News that third parties will be able to take complaints from suppliers to the newly created Groceries Code Adjudicator
will bring huge relief to Welsh farmers and growers supplying into the large retailers, said NFU Cymru today.

The NFU have been campaigning for over a decade and today’s news means that trade associations, such as NFU Cymru,
should be able to protect farmers and growers who, for too long, have been subjected to unfair practices by the major supermarkets.

The Bill will begin its passage through Parliament in the coming weeks and NFU Cymru will be examining the fine text of
the Bill to ensure the adjudicator’s powers are fit for purpose.

For once some good news for farmers and growers in what are increasingly difficult times. I’m sure many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and growers will appreciate the work the NFU have put into this BIll.


Food Festival Funding

11 May

The wait continues for sight of wag’s list of food festival that they are funding. This was promised w/c 19th March.

I have heard from various festivals, sadly they are not all happy about how they have been funded and treated by wag, but some seemingly have received more than they asked for. Guess that makes sense to someone, somewhere……………….

I have submitted a Freedom Of Information question on food festival funding and have been promised a reply by 16th May.

I was pleased to receive a press releases this morning from Caerphilly County Borough Council who have been awarded £10,000 from the Welsh Government Food Festival Funding for their festival at the end of this month.

I’m sure many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers will be attneding and I hope it’s a busy festival for you all.

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Head For The Hive At Aberaeron

10 May

On our way back to the office after a meeting, Ian and I called into The Hive and hoped that we’d be in time for a bite to eat. Thankfully, even though it was just after two o’clock; their lunch menu was still in place. What a relief that was,
as it gave us a brief break and a chance to relax in their lovely surroundings, despite the hideous wet weather.

Ian had the slow cooked beef, rocket, horseradish open sandwich and I went for one of their specials: tomato, chorizo and
mozzarella on cibatta. Both our choices tasted delicious and did work well served on wooden boards.

The Hive has been re-furbished of late and they have done a really good job updating it to a trendy restaurant, that’s not imposing because of the efficient and friendly team that works there. The Hive is also a great place to call in for coffee, but I bet you’ll not be able to resist their super selection of cakes! Having said that, I guess there will not be that many people who can actually resist their award winning ice-cream either! What an array of flavours they have on offer and I have yet to find one that I don’t really

With a fishmonger sited in the historic converted wharf, you can also purchase from a wonderful selection of fresh fish including Cardigan Bay crab, lobster, shellfish and bass, of course supplies vary, but if in doubt, give them a ring and see about placing an order.

So if you are in the area, then do pay them a visit, I’m sure you’ll be delighted as we were with the fantastic food, friendly, helpful service and in such a wonderful setting.

The Hive is now on my list to visit for dinner …………………..




RHS Cardiff

01 May

I have had a fair amount of ‘feedback’ on this event, starting with a host of traders, including some of our Best Of Welsh & Borders, who despite supporting this event for years, this year were not allowed a tradestand, although they had been sent application forms. Who said loyalty pays or loyalty will be rewarded? I find that puzzling and understandably many traders were very angry. When you been attending an event for years, then get an application form through as usual, then I too would assume I’d be accepted again this year. But this didn’t happen and it meant that loyal RHS traders were bumped off and of course hadn’t applied for anything else. Can someone please tell them that traders are trying to run businesses……………….

I hate hearing of this happening, especially when by all accounts it’s such a busy, profitable event. One Welsh trader who did get in had a super few days there, but was disappointed that the majority of food traders were fromEngland.

I have no idea why RHS appear to have changed their policy for tradestand acceptance. Does the fact that wag are not supplying any funding have any relevance to lack of Welsh food producers being bumped off?

I know that if I was attending the RHS in Cardiff as a punter, I would certainly expect to see Welsh food producers there, wouldn’t you? So why have it changed with RHS? It is a huge shame that in our capital, the food shop window at the RHS show was basically food from England. What message does that send out?