Etheridge & Persighetti spent a day in Lancaster Market finding out about people’s seasonal connections to food and planning a Future Feast….
As part of the Festival of Social Science with Lancaster University, we set out our stall for a day of creative conversations about food.
Simon: It was a cold November morning but trade was brisk around us as we invited shoppers to bring their knowledge, experience, and questions about food to the table for a day of open conversations. The banner above our stall read: FUTURE FEAST: The Plot.
Katie: We set up the stall as a kind of “roundtable of the seasons”. People were invited to spin the carrot on the seasonal wheel to determine the topic of discussion from food security, food-lore to the future of food production and to add their answers or statements to the table. As part of our research we had already been on visits to local food producers and researchers including Claver Hill Community Farm and the hi-tech labs of Lancaster University’s Environment Centre.
Simon: FUTURE FEAST: The Plot is part of a plan to establish a new Lancaster event bringing together culture, research and local makers and growers of food. The seeds of the idea came when we embarked upon a day-long walking performance on Valentine’s Day 2019, looking for the heart of the city. The “Heart Walk” was part of Lancaster Arts’ THIS PLACE project.
Katie: That day we paid a visit to Mark Dion’s Tasting Garden nestled away in the Storey Gardens. Harriet, who directed us to the site described it as her heart of the city. A sanctuary of green quietude in the middle of Lancaster, it is an orchard, a garden and an artwork all in one. In response to this site and to conversations we had with people along the way, we started thinking about how and where food production lies in relation to the heart of a city.
Simon: So back in the Market Square we wanted to learn about the range of food projects and initiatives and growers in Lancashire who are addressing this question. We invited residents, plant researchers, local growers, gardeners and allotment plotters to talk particularly about how they feel linked (or not) to the landscape, cityscape and to the seasons. Many people stopped by to spin the carrot and shared seasonal and local recipes, memories of growing and foraging for food, stories and local food related sayings, for example Burnley’s “Don’t stand there like cheese at fourpence”!
Discussions and discoveries will now feed into the creation of a new seasonal event focused on bringing people together in the heart of the city to celebrate the graft of all gardens and gardeners as winter gives way to spring. The next steps of the project are now being planned with Lancaster Arts in partnership with Friends of the Storey Garden.