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A buzz about the Slow Food Festival

03 October 2019

FAMILIES are guaranteed a fun day out at the Slow Food Festival in Derry with a host of activities over the weekend (October 12 – 13) to keep all the kids busy little bees.

An urban bee-keeping stall in Guildhall Square will have them swarming around with members of Derry and District Bee Keeping Association on hand to share their expertise as well as selling their wares.

Helen Bond, Secretary of the local branch, is eager to attract new bee keepers to their Saturday morning sessions at Brooke Park apiary.

“We currently have about 50 members from Ballycastle to Donegal as well as many from the city and surrounding area,” said Helen. “It’s unusual to have a club in the city but actually, the bees do better in an urban setting because there are more plants and flowers. In the countryside, there are just fields of grass and cut hedges which offer nothing of interest to insects.

“We have members from all backgrounds, with a very diverse range of people. You tend to find in a lot of associations the age profile is high because people do it when they retire, but we have a lot of younger members. One little girl is only 8 and she is absolutely besotted, she would never miss a Saturday session!

“We would like to see the club grow. We run a preliminary course every February until May when there is an optional exam. We can take a maximum of 15 people but it’s already nearly full for the next course so we might run two if we can get the numbers.

“The Slow Food ethos would tie in with bee-keeping; as well as educating people about the bees, we promote their role as pollinators and of course there is the produce,” added Helen.

The urban bee-keepers stall is just one way that organisers of the Slow Food Festival are introducing younger visitors to finding out where food comes from and the importance of clean, green and fair local produce.

Expect street animation, a kidz farm, kids’ workshops including a Sensory Fantastic Food Factory Lab and learn how to make ancient Irish flatbread as well as plenty more to help the next generation of Slow Food aficionados have a full menu of activities to help them work up a healthy appetite.

Any families wanting to take their food knowledge to the next level may be interested in signing up to the Wild Cookery Experience which introduces children to making scrumptious snacks over an outdoor fire. Children from 3 - 16 years can enjoy ingredients from the Walled Garden in St Columb’s Park to make a munch with a difference. The newly restored Walled Garden provides simple organic herbs and flavoursome ingredients to help kids design their own campfire food. The experience is supported by a Far and Wild cooking expert with a list of potential menu items for you to conjure up.

Jennifer O’Donnell, Tourism Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors of all ages to our Slow Food Festival which gets bigger and better every year. We are passionate about promoting delicious natural food supplied by local producers and the younger that message reaches people, the better.

“There will be so much happening in Guildhall Square over the weekend with all the family attractions, the Harvest Marquee full of amazing local producers and street food outlets.”

For more details or to book the Wild Cookery Experience, visit: www.derrystrabane.com/food or to find out more about Derry and District Bee Keepers’ Association, visit their Facebook page ‘Derry-and-District-Beekeepers’ or website: www.derryanddistrictbeekeepers.com