Forget music for a moment, Autumn is all about food festivals and the upcoming one at Wells (Wells Food Festival
Sunday 11 October) is arguably the best in the South West.
Set in the market square of this stunning, atmospheric cathedral city, there will be more than 100 artisan food stalls and street food sellers focusing on the best of Somerset's produce featuring everything from cheese to sushi. Highlights include a pop up tea party and Eat the Landscape, a debate on food choices and the land.
Country Calling caught up with WFF founder Paddy O Hagan. What are you most looking forward to at the Wells Food Festival?
The atmosphere! This festival is as much about the people as the food and always has a friendly, community feel. It caters for all ages from the Families Marquee to the skittles and cider tent. And of course I'm looking forward to seeing all the stalls and the wonderful produce.Why do you think this part of the country has such a strong history of producing artisan, sustainable high welfare food?
The landscape has much to do with it. One of the supposed meanings of the name Somerset is 'land of summer people' as during winter months the countryside was inaccessible. This meamt people had to be self reliant and work with the land to get the best from it. The countryside in this region does not lend itself to swathes of arable land;there arethe rolling hills such as the Quantocks and the Mendips, alongside the wetlands of the Levels. These are more conducive to manageable, pasturable farming and grazing lands, hence the tradition of dairy and sheep and sheep farming and orchards. Also if you compare Somerset with other counties there are proportionally very few large country houses, it has always been made up of small farmers making their own produce.Can you tell us a bit about Eat the Landscape which seems to highlight the ethos of the festival?
One of the free events at the festival Eat the Landscape will be exploring the relationship between the food we eat and the effect this has on the landscape. We take the countryside for granted, but the food we demand as consumers is obviously going to impact on the way the land is farmed. If we demand bland, cheap, characterless food then that will be reflected in the farming methods. If however, we cherish our landscape, eat local, seasonal, fresh and not necessarily more expensive produce, and support artisan producers who are providing it, we will be safeguarding the countryside - this really does sum up the food festival!