Local Food, Local Plates, Local People

Posted on 22 July 2015

People from across North Staffordshire gathered at Middleport Pottery for the Connected Communities Food Festival. The family event was organised by Keele University’s Community Animation and Social Innovation Centre (CASIC), in collaboration with New Vic Borderlines, with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  It aimed to celebrate local food and to showcase ways of eating, shopping and cooking cheaply and sustainably.

Middleport Pottery, which was refurbished in 2012 by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, welcomed a number of community partners from across the Stoke-on-Trent region, including urban gardening project, Status Grow, community bakery, Bread in Common, and local food banks. People were invited to try samples of food, from speciality breads to hand-made Polish pierogi.

Outside, the urban gardening project, Status Grow, handed out freshly-crushed fruit juice blends, and local poet Alan Barret told stories about the local potteries and plate-making techniques. Children were encouraged to make fruit and vegetable puppets with the help of staff from New Vic Borderlines, and Yoggi Delicatessen provided a barbeque that whet the appetites of everyone there.

Cookery demonstrations were held throughout the day. One of the chefs, Howard Jones from Cobridge, is a former Masterchef contestant and now runs cookery demonstrations at local foodbanks to show people how to eat healthily whilst shopping on a budget. Howard demonstrated how to make simple fishcakes from scratch on a tight budget. Everyone who tasted them agreed that they were much tastier than pre-prepared ones!

The event was informed by community based research carried out by Dr Emma Surman and Professor Mihaela Kelemen in collaboration with New Vic Borderlines.  A display of plates decorated by members of the local community on the themes of healthy eating, sustainability and community living was also displayed. The plates were accompanied by a piece of sound art by Keele University Music’s Professor Rajmil Fischman.
Professor Mark Ormerod, Keele’s  Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research, Enterprise, the Environment & Sustainability), said: “I am delighted the Food Festival was such as success.  Our Community Animation and Social Innovation Centre led by Professor Kelemen provides a great example of internationally leading research at Keele contributing positively and having a significant impact on the communities we serve."

CASIC is now looking forward to hosting its International Summit on October 14-15th. Speakers at this event include representatives from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, National Association of Neighbourhood Management, the New Vic Theatre, as well as international speakers from Finland and Singapore.  The second day will feature an interactive exhibition showcasing artistic outcomes resulting from Keele’s community based research. For more information, please contact Liz Riley on support.casic@keele.ac.uk or visit the website: www.keele.ac.uk/casic.