Compilation Field to Fork Countryfile


Compilation Field to Fork

Ellie Harrison is in the market town of Frome in Somerset to find out about a field-to-fork revolution which is taking this place by storm.


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From picture-perfect coastline...

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..to the breathtaking Mendip and Quantock Hills...

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..Somerset really is a county with plenty to recommend it.

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With its lush, green, fertile landscape,

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Somerset is well known for its produce.

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So it's no surprise to find that this county,

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with its passion for fine fare,

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is at the forefront of a field-to-fork revolution.

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I'll be meeting two mums who are redefining the weekly shop.

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The Food Assembly in Frome is fresh, local and friendly.

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While I'm here, I'll be looking back through

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a smorgasbord of Countryfile treats to tempt and delight.

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Oh, yeah.

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A true celebration of British produce.

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Like when Adam got a taste for

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one of Britain's favourite seasonal vegetables.

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Asparagus - delicious.

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Matt plunged to new depths in his hunt for a free lunch.

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-He's quite young.

-He's small

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and there won't be much meat on him either.

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And Anita wasn't kidding when she got stuck into cooking British goat.

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Why not just chuck saltwater on it and season it?

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Somerset, one of the jewels of the South-West -

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land of the summer people.

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I'm heading to the historic market town of Frome

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in the east of the county.

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It oozes charm...

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..with its cobbled streets and honey-coloured buildings.

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It has markets aplenty, supplied by local, independent food producers.

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It's a place that likes to celebrate

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all that's good about British produce.

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Some of which is free.

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Step forward, Incredible Edible,

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a free-food movement.

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Started in West Yorkshire in 2007,

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it's now spread to more than 100 groups across the UK,

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including one in Frome.

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I'm hoping to pick up some ingredients for a platter

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of delicious local food I'll be making later.

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Caroline Wajsblum heads up

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Incredible Edible's team of volunteers.

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-Good morning, Caroline. How are you doing?

-Hi, good, thank you.

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-Good to see you. This all looks so wholesome.

-Yeah, thanks.

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I've got a shopping list for some of your veg if that's all right.

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-Brilliant. What would you like?

-Whatever's seasonal.

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-Green, leafy veg?

-Yeah.

-What have you got?

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We've got some really nice kale at the moment.

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-Shall we get some of that?

-Yeah.

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If you come just through here, that's it.

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That's it, careful, there's a pumpkin just there.

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-Don't want to ruin that.

-We've got some nice crunchy kale.

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Tell me about what Incredible Edibles is all about. How did it start?

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Well, it started up in Todmorden up in Yorkshire.

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Some amazing women just decided to make use of some public spaces

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that were underutilised and they just started growing food

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and people went, "Wow, that's great!"

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So we thought, "Let's do that here."

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Why do you personally involve yourself?

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I really think it's important in our society now to help people

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to understand where their food comes from

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because in this day and age,

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a lot of people just go and pick it out of the supermarket.

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Do people literally come and help themselves to whatever they want?

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Yeah, absolutely. It's free food for everyone to share.

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Is this the only patch? Are there plans to expand?

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There are other spaces that are just derelict bits of land

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that aren't being used.

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Often, we're looking at those to try and transform those.

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I think, for most people who walk past, yeah,

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an invitation is necessary.

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It's nice to have something that says

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this is food that's for sharing.

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-What a lovely sentiment.

-Don't feel guilty.

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-That looks incredible, thank you so much.

-You're welcome.

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There we go, that's all the ingredients I need.

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All I've got to do now is cook it.

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This idea of free food is not just for landlubbers,

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as Matt found out when he took the plunge in the seas of Cornwall

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last summer, looking for a fabulous freebie lunch.

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For centuries, fishermen have eked out a living

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along this rugged coastline.

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But now there's a new generation with a whole new approach.

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Ian Donald forages for food beneath the waves.

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And he does it by just holding his breath.

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They call it freediving, and Ian is going to show me how.

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Ian, what exactly is the concept of freediving?

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Basically, what we are doing is holding our breath

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for hopefully an extended amount of time.

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-Yeah.

-Enough time to be able to get down, enjoy what's around us.

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What really started me in a lot of this was the fact that I could

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pick up my own sustainable, easily caught food - delicious seafood.

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-You know, right here.

-The whole point is to hold your breath,

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-I guess that's where we start.

-Yeah.

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What we're going to do is get you to try holding your breath

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and we'll see how long you can do now.

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-Then we'll see how long you can do after some training.

-Yeah.

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-Comfortable?

-Yeah.

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Right, in your own time.

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'No pressure, but I'm never going to make it as a freediver

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'if I can't hold my breath.'

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Well done, that was good.

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So that's a baseline at around 40 seconds.

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-Oh, right, that is pretty rubbish.

-It's not that bad.

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I've had worse.

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-How long can you hold yours for?

-About seven minutes.

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Do you practise in the bath?

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'40 seconds. Well, I'll have to do a lot better than that

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'if I'm going to go in the water.

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'Ian reckons, with a bit of training, he can double my time.'

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'Here goes.'

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Slightly deeper than normal breath in.

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Then full exhale, get rid of everything. Spit, spit, spit, spit.

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Deflating.

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Then into your chest. In that big, wide-open mouth.

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That's it. And hold and relax.

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Just keep loose, keep loose. That's it.

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You're going to start feeling those contractions coming.

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Just relax, don't shake. Relax, relax, relax. Loose, loose, loose.

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-Well done.

-Wow!

-D'you want to know how long you did?

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That is different. Yeah, go on.

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-Two minutes and one second.

-Really?!

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-There's your splits.

-Did I?

-There you go.

-Oh, man, wow!

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Before I hit the water, I need to get kitted out.

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But first I've got to figure out how to get the suit on.

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So, you're going to have to pull it down now, so head up, that's it.

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'I don't remember Spiderman finding it this difficult.'

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Keep going.

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-That's it, well done.

-Good job we did all that breath-holding earlier.

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The hooded suit and extra long fins make me more efficient in the water.

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Now to put my newfound skills to the test and go in search of lunch.

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That way.

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My first-ever freedive.

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And I think I'm going to like this.

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That felt great.

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It's so liberating, I can't tell you.

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Just swimming along the bottom

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and the fish are coming up and having a little look.

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There's a lot of life down here,

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but we're looking for something we can eat.

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The freediving mantra is take only what you need

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and select animals of the right size and species.

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-He's quite young.

-He's small.

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-There won't be much meat on him either.

-Right.

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Brown crab is delicious, but this little fella is too small to eat.

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So we're going to put him back.

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Now, this looks more promising.

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A full-grown lobster.

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It looks like it's been in the wars,

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but even with one claw, it'll put up a fight.

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Got it.

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That's one claw for me and...

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Sorry, Ian.

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It's not a banquet, that's for sure,

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but I did manage to grab a lobster, quite a feisty little thing he was.

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A lovely way to get your food, of course,

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because you're face-to-face with it.

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You take it off the seabed and you're going to eat it,

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you have a lot more respect for your food that way.

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You know exactly where it came from.

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But it's not just from the sea

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you can get food that's fresh and free.

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I'm in Frome in Somerset where I've been gathering up ingredients

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to make a dish that's local, free and freshly picked.

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One person benefiting from this bounty is Mahesh

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who runs a vegetarian cafe with a difference.

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It's in a former public convenience.

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Wow, what a transformation!

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Yeah, people say, after 15 years in this country, I end up in a toilet.

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-Come in.

-Living in high places.

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-Hey! It's cosy, isn't it?

-Yes, indeed.

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Yes, it is very cosy. It gets really hot.

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People love it because so much smell goes outside

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and smell brings it out.

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We sometimes put the board outside saying, "Follow your nose."

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So, what's this all about?

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I've got you some kale, curly kale, we've got a bit of lettuce in there.

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Some chard, chives and even parsley.

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The kale, we can do pakoras. Chives, we could garnish that yoghurt.

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That could do with some garnish.

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-This is my first time making pakoras.

-It's very simple.

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I'm going to show you something my mum used to do when I was a child.

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'Mahesh regularly uses Incredible Edibles vegetables

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'to enhance his recipes.'

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What's your food philosophy?

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I come from India, from Hyderabad, it's known for food,

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at our festival we eat a lot of good food.

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And my mum makes amazing food.

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I always chased my mother's taste.

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That's why we say we home cook and we cook with mother's love.

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-Do you want to go for it?

-Yes. Just mix it?

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-Just put some gram flour.

-How much?

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-A handful.

-Like this?

-Yes.

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'We add some gram flour and red chilli powder to the kale.'

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Mix it in, yeah. Mix it well.

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You've got a bit of gram flour down there.

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-It's actually good for your skin, so don't worry.

-Is it?

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Yeah, a bit more water. And you are actually feeling it.

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Why does local food matter to you?

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Local food matters because it's low carbon footprint

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and it's there, you can tell your customers where your food is from.

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Do you realise it's just grown in that park,

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we just washed it and we're cooking it.

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-So the full life-cycle of the food is met.

-That's nice.

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I think we are pretty much ready to go.

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So just a bit of that in there? Whee!

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-Is that too much, is that OK?

-That's a nice amount. That's a nice amount.

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-Just, yeah, there you go. See what I mean?

-Yeah.

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-That's alive, that one.

-It dehydrates kale really well.

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My neighbour came to me and said, "Manesh, I don't like kale."

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-But this way, he really likes it now.

-There you go.

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And there's something about the way it dehydrates kale

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and then gives it a nice texture.

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That smells amazing.

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I am so ready for this, thank you.

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Mmm!

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Oh, wow!

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-Manesh, that is gorgeous! The flavours are so strong.

-Nice.

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I love that. Right up my street.

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Now, earlier in the year, Anita was equally impressed

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when she tried a meat that's not on everyone's menu.

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Yum. That is so lush. You're not having any.

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THEY LAUGH

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Spring is a time for us all to enjoy the great outdoors.

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And for me, the sun's welcome return means one thing -

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barbecue weather!

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Time for a taste of spring.

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I've been invited to Cambridge by restaurant owner

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and food writer Tim Hayward for some outdoor eats with a difference.

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Quite unlike the traditional tea and cake in his restaurant,

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Tim has a rather more unconventional approach to cooking at home.

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So we won't be celebrating the taste of spring

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with a bit of new-season lamb on the barbie.

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For Tim, there's a new kid on the block.

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-Hello, Tim.

-Hello, how you doing?

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My chariot. Oh, this is brilliant.

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-Climb in.

-What's on the menu?

-We've got goat.

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Lead the way. Off we go.

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That's right. He said goat.

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They may be the world's oldest domesticated animals,

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but the UK is only just beginning

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to embrace the trend for eating goat meat.

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We're off to John the butcher's, Tim's supplier.

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-Hello, John.

-How're you doing?

-Have you got a goat for me?

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'I've eaten it before, mostly abroad,

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'but I'm intrigued to find out more about home-grown goat meat.'

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Look at the size of that! Is there a market for goat?

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Yeah, we get more and more people asking for goat.

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When we do get them in, which is about every two to three months,

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it all goes within a matter of a week.

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So, the way you butcher it, is it the same as lamb?

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Pretty much. That way, it's familiar for people as well

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so it's not too much of a shock.

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It's a beautiful thing, John, thank you so much.

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-My pleasure.

-It's a large thing. Thank you.

-Thank you, sir.

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'Let's get this goat on the barbecue.

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'Tim is no run-of-the-mill chef.

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'He likes to make his own everything.

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'He smokes salmon in gym lockers,

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'makes DIY doners,

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'and you're just as likely to find salami as screwdrivers in his shed.'

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That's how you light a fire.

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'So, today, we're cooking our piece of English goat

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'on an Argentinian-style wire frame.

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'Young goat meat is similar to veal.

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'When male calves and kids are born,

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'they're no use to the dairy industry,

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'so go into the meat market instead.

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'As the demand for goat milk produce increases,

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'Tim thinks it's time to make more of

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'one of the industry's most valuable by-products.'

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If we can convince people -

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and it's not even a tough job once you start eating it -

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if you can convince people this is just like good lamb,

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just like good mutton,

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then we save all of those animals and they get used,

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they don't get ground up and fed to other animals.

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-That's how it should be.

-Makes sense.

-Makes loads of sense to me.

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'With the rack of goat fixed to the frame, it's time to get cooking.'

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So, you've just attached a goat hanger.

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-I'm sorry.

-OK, that's what I've done, yes.

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Sorry. You must stop me from bleating on.

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THEY LAUGH

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-And so it begins.

-It's going to be a long, long day.

-OK.

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-Hook under there.

-Yeah.

-Right, you hold the top there...

-Got it.

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-..while I link this up to the chain.

-Isn't this fantastic?

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-It's bonkers, isn't it?

-I've never done anything like it.

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Why not just stick it on a barbecue? What's all this contraption about?

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That's about controllability.

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It pivots there, we can lower it down over the fire.

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You've got the thicker piece of meat at the top,

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thinner piece at the bottom, a lovely fat layer on the back.

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We just lower it down and then we can control easily

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right through the cooking process exactly what the temperature is.

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OK, watch carefully as it goes down. We don't want to burn the thing.

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-OK, you've got it.

-I got it.

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'We leave the meat to its own devices for an hour or so,

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'giving Tim time to whip up some seasonal sides.

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'We season the goat with saltwater brine.'

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It also moistens it, stops it burning.

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It also is the perfect way of seasoning meat

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-because look at how we're cooking the thing.

-I know.

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Why not just chuck saltwater on it and season it?

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'And check the temperature.'

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-It's 42.

-42, OK, so for rare, we want it to be 56.6.

-OK.

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So we're doing pretty well right now.

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There's just one more ingredient needed -

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friends and family to share our taste of spring.

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And John, who butchered our showstopper, is our guest of honour.

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It's not elegant cutting,

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-but you see how John did all the work at the butcher's first.

-Yeah.

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Careful not to burn your fingers. There you go, guys.

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Is that delicious?

0:18:200:18:21

Oh, Tim, delicious!

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I'm not just saying it.

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That is gorgeous.

0:18:300:18:31

I've never had it cooked this way before and it's...sublime.

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It's just home-grown, British goat, bit of salt,

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-cooked in the outdoors, do it yourself.

-Absolutely perfect.

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-Can't argue with that.

-I'm sold.

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-It's delicious, absolutely delicious.

-Our work here is done.

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The Somerset town of Frome sits amongst rich, fertile farmland.

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It's a place full of artisan markets, shops and eateries.

0:19:080:19:12

And it's now adopted a brand-new way

0:19:120:19:15

of buying great, local British produce.

0:19:150:19:18

The Food Assembly is online shopping with a twist.

0:19:180:19:22

It's where sellers and shoppers get to meet and chew the fat.

0:19:220:19:26

It may not sound like the stuff of revolution,

0:19:260:19:29

but later on, I'll be finding out

0:19:290:19:32

how this innovative idea is taking this area by storm.

0:19:320:19:36

Last year, John visited a dairy farm in Kent equally as forward-thinking

0:19:390:19:44

in its approach to producing a great, British edible delight.

0:19:440:19:47

The Kentish countryside, a landscape shaped by farmers and growers.

0:19:500:19:54

Fertile soil and a warm climate

0:19:540:19:56

create perfect conditions for their produce.

0:19:560:19:59

Kent has long been proud of its foodie reputation.

0:19:590:20:03

There's no denying that the Kent landscape really is

0:20:050:20:08

good enough to eat. It produces some fantastic food

0:20:080:20:11

and drink as well.

0:20:110:20:13

But I'm going to be finding out about a new product

0:20:130:20:16

that is produced entirely on one farm...

0:20:160:20:18

..Kentish blue cheese.

0:20:200:20:21

Steve Reynolds comes from a long line of dairy farmers.

0:20:210:20:26

He bought this 250-acre farm

0:20:260:20:28

in the heart of the Kent countryside 25 years ago.

0:20:280:20:32

It's a family business,

0:20:320:20:33

with sons Archie and Frank helping out whenever they can.

0:20:330:20:36

Come on.

0:20:360:20:38

With dairy farming having a rough ride over the past few years,

0:20:400:20:43

Steve and his wife Karen wanted to add value to the milk.

0:20:430:20:47

So they started making cheese.

0:20:470:20:50

By diversifying, they hope to secure the farm's future for the boys.

0:20:500:20:54

I think dairy farming is a good industry to be in.

0:20:540:20:57

I think the dairy farmers have got to look,

0:20:570:20:59

particularly smaller family farms,

0:20:590:21:01

we've got to look at our end product

0:21:010:21:03

and how we sell our end product,

0:21:030:21:05

rather than just selling it to the supermarket.

0:21:050:21:07

-Why blue cheese?

-Purely because I love it.

0:21:070:21:11

20% of the herd's milk is pumped straight from the udder

0:21:120:21:15

to the cheese vat, so no food miles here, just a few metres.

0:21:150:21:19

We want all that warm milk to come.

0:21:190:21:21

We use it straightaway from when it comes out of the cow,

0:21:210:21:24

it just goes through the filters, straight into the cheese vat,

0:21:240:21:27

it's much better like that - it's the raw, natural product.

0:21:270:21:30

The warm milk gets mixed with a powdered culture

0:21:300:21:34

called Penicillium roqueforti.

0:21:340:21:36

This is the mould that makes blue cheese blue.

0:21:360:21:39

Then, rennet is added, which curdles the milk.

0:21:390:21:42

Finally, the liquid, the whey, is drained off

0:21:440:21:46

and you're left with the curds.

0:21:460:21:48

-Can I have a taste?

-Have a taste.

0:21:500:21:51

It should taste quite sweet.

0:21:510:21:54

-Mm. It's not like cheese, is it?

-No, no.

0:21:540:21:57

It's more like scrambled egg.

0:21:570:21:59

-It is, it's kind of like cottage cheese texture.

-It is, yeah.

0:21:590:22:03

Now, did you know anything at all about cheese-making

0:22:030:22:06

before you started?

0:22:060:22:08

No, we were complete novices.

0:22:080:22:10

Steve went on a couple of cheese-making courses,

0:22:100:22:13

but the most important thing

0:22:130:22:15

is that you learn on the job and trial and error.

0:22:150:22:19

Are you tempted to go really big time?

0:22:190:22:21

No, we're happy as we are.

0:22:210:22:24

We don't want to be supplying supermarkets or anything like that.

0:22:240:22:27

We're a family farm, we want to be able

0:22:270:22:30

to pass it on to our children and just enjoy what we do.

0:22:300:22:34

With just the two of them making it, Steve and Karen produce

0:22:350:22:38

only around 80 wheels of cheese a week,

0:22:380:22:40

which they sell at farmers' markets and to local businesses.

0:22:400:22:44

After about seven days,

0:22:440:22:46

the culture that was added starts to work its magic.

0:22:460:22:48

But it needs a helping hand

0:22:480:22:50

for the distinctive blue veining to develop inside.

0:22:500:22:54

And that's eldest son Frank's job.

0:22:540:22:56

-Gosh, there's a strong smell in here, isn't there?

-Yeah.

0:22:560:23:00

-Ammonia.

-It's not good. You get used to it after a while,

0:23:000:23:02

but when you first come in, it smells.

0:23:020:23:05

What's your role in this family business?

0:23:050:23:07

Where you're stabbing, you're putting holes in the cheese to let oxygen in.

0:23:070:23:11

It allows the mould in the cheese to develop.

0:23:110:23:14

How many stabs do you have to give each cheese?

0:23:140:23:17

Roughly each one gets about 80 holes, but 40 stabs.

0:23:170:23:20

So it takes quite a while.

0:23:200:23:22

And how long are the cheeses in here before they're ready for sale?

0:23:220:23:26

They come in here for five weeks.

0:23:260:23:28

When they develop, the outside gets quite furry, the mould develops.

0:23:280:23:32

-Yeah.

-And after five weeks, when they're eight weeks old,

0:23:320:23:35

they go off for sale.

0:23:350:23:37

Tell me, honestly, do you just do this for a bit of pocket money?

0:23:370:23:41

Or do you have a long-term interest in cheese-making?

0:23:410:23:44

No, I plan to take over the business and work on the farm and cheese-make

0:23:440:23:49

with my brother Archie who's very interested in the animals.

0:23:490:23:52

So me and him working together, I think, would be quite good.

0:23:520:23:56

Seems like the boys' plans are, like the cheeses, maturing nicely.

0:23:560:24:01

I'm in Frome in Somerset,

0:24:140:24:16

a town where fresh food, grown on the doorstep, is top of the menu.

0:24:160:24:20

Now, as convenient as it is to shop at a supermarket,

0:24:200:24:24

it's not for everyone,

0:24:240:24:26

especially if you want to have more of a connection

0:24:260:24:28

with where your food comes from.

0:24:280:24:30

That's where the Food Assembly comes in.

0:24:300:24:33

The idea is simple. It's like a farmers' market,

0:24:350:24:38

except beforehand you order exactly what you want online from the farmer.

0:24:380:24:42

Being an independent-minded town, an Assembly has been set up in Frome.

0:24:430:24:47

Maybe just some backdrop.

0:24:510:24:54

The people responsible for bringing the idea here are two locals,

0:24:540:24:57

Lindsay Downes and Pia McGee.

0:24:570:25:00

Have you got some good shots?

0:25:010:25:03

What are the photos going to be used for?

0:25:030:25:05

We're trying to do a Producer Of The Month feature

0:25:050:25:07

for the website to help people engage with the farmer a bit more.

0:25:070:25:10

How does the Assembly work?

0:25:100:25:12

Customers order online and it's all local produce.

0:25:120:25:16

In the case of Frome, it's all sourced

0:25:160:25:18

from within 25 miles of the town.

0:25:180:25:20

The farmer then knows exactly what they've sold

0:25:200:25:23

before the night of the collection.

0:25:230:25:25

So there is no wastage

0:25:250:25:27

because they only bring exactly what people have ordered.

0:25:270:25:30

Why would someone do that rather than go to a farmers' market?

0:25:300:25:33

The comparison I usually make is the veg box delivery scheme

0:25:330:25:36

where you're not quite sure what will come in that box.

0:25:360:25:38

But if you use the Frome Food Assembly system,

0:25:380:25:41

you can choose what you put in.

0:25:410:25:42

This model can be more expensive than standard supermarket stuff.

0:25:420:25:45

Is it that people care, do you think?

0:25:450:25:47

I think people do care and there's a recognition that

0:25:470:25:50

if you are buying it directly from a small-scale local producer,

0:25:500:25:54

it's always going to be slightly more expensive than the big boys,

0:25:540:25:57

you know, buying from a supermarket.

0:25:570:25:59

But what you're buying is better, so there is no comparison.

0:25:590:26:02

We do have a fantastic farmers' market in Frome,

0:26:020:26:04

but it's only once a month.

0:26:040:26:05

So if you want to buy local food throughout the month,

0:26:050:26:08

then it's the only solution, the only option people have.

0:26:080:26:11

-So it's quite easy - just click and collect?

-Click, collect, cook.

0:26:110:26:14

Now, in a moment, I'm going to be getting to grips with

0:26:160:26:19

the produce from these beautiful Jersey cows. But first...

0:26:190:26:22

We've launched the Countryfile calendar for 2016

0:26:220:26:26

and announced the winning photo from this year's photographic competition.

0:26:260:26:30

No Jersey calves, sadly,

0:26:300:26:32

but instead, the happy hedgehog

0:26:320:26:34

which adorns the front cover.

0:26:340:26:36

And if you're the sort of person who likes to get ahead

0:26:360:26:39

on your Christmas shopping, then this could be the ideal gift.

0:26:390:26:42

The calendar costs £9.50, including free UK delivery.

0:26:430:26:47

You can buy yours either via our website...

0:26:470:26:51

..or by calling the order line...

0:26:530:26:57

To order by post, send your name, address and cheque to...

0:27:030:27:08

A minimum of £4 from the sale of each calendar

0:27:180:27:21

will be donated to the BBC Children In Need appeal.

0:27:210:27:25

Last year's calendar was a record breaker,

0:27:250:27:27

raising more than £1.5 million.

0:27:270:27:31

But with your help this year, we hope we can raise even more.

0:27:310:27:34

I promise you can have a clean one.

0:27:340:27:36

We're celebrating great British food and drink

0:27:410:27:44

and taking a look back through a feast of Countryfile treats.

0:27:440:27:48

Earlier this year, Adam got a taste for a British seasonal vegetable

0:27:500:27:54

that's gaining in popularity.

0:27:540:27:56

Perfect, thank you.

0:27:560:27:58

Asparagus - delicious.

0:27:580:28:00

This year, we're expected to produce 5½ million kilos,

0:28:020:28:06

or 5,400 tonnes of asparagus -

0:28:060:28:09

a record-breaking crop.

0:28:090:28:12

And not one box of it goes abroad.

0:28:120:28:14

We gobble up every last spear ourselves.

0:28:140:28:16

Gardeners amongst you will know

0:28:190:28:20

that the key to growing good asparagus

0:28:200:28:22

is free-draining, sandy soil.

0:28:220:28:25

Up here in Formby, they've been cultivating asparagus for 200 years.

0:28:250:28:29

And you certainly don't get much sandier than this.

0:28:290:28:32

It's incredible to think that just 80 years ago,

0:28:340:28:37

this sand dune system was home to a thriving asparagus industry,

0:28:370:28:41

but now, there's just one farmer left.

0:28:410:28:44

David Brooks is the fourth generation of his family

0:28:460:28:49

to grow asparagus here.

0:28:490:28:50

-Good morning, Adam.

-Good to see you. I cannot believe this soil!

0:28:510:28:55

-Or lack of it. It's just sand, isn't it?

-Sand, yeah.

0:28:550:28:57

-Would this have been sand dunes at one time?

-It would have been, yeah.

0:28:570:29:00

Farmers in the 1930s, asparagus growers,

0:29:000:29:03

have flattened this ground here and made it into asparagus fields.

0:29:030:29:06

-How do you stop the wind blowing it all away?

-Um, we struggle at times,

0:29:060:29:11

and sometimes it does blow away,

0:29:110:29:13

but we feed it with plenty of organic matter.

0:29:130:29:15

-And you really want the sand to be warm, do you?

-Yeah.

0:29:150:29:19

If the sand's warm, like when you're on holiday on the beach,

0:29:190:29:23

then definitely we can cut every day then.

0:29:230:29:26

So what's the skill, then? Give me a lesson.

0:29:260:29:29

We put a bit of weight on the spear, pull up, so you can feel it,

0:29:290:29:33

and then you feel the cut and cut it off, like using a chisel.

0:29:330:29:38

So is this a different tool for up here?

0:29:380:29:40

We call this a Lancashire knife.

0:29:400:29:42

Also it helps you to miss some of the spears you're not cutting.

0:29:420:29:45

Oh, I see, yeah.

0:29:450:29:46

OK, so get hold of it. I'm not sure how quickly I'll fill a box.

0:29:460:29:50

-Like that?

-That's it.

0:29:510:29:53

Where do you send it all?

0:29:530:29:55

We're well known in the local area for it,

0:29:550:29:57

so your local Formby people come to the farm shop for it.

0:29:570:30:00

We'll have that one.

0:30:000:30:02

-On there?

-Yeah, please.

0:30:060:30:07

Wonderful. Well, I hope the rest of the season goes well for you.

0:30:070:30:10

-Cheers. Thank you very much.

-All the very best. Bye-bye.

-See you soon.

0:30:100:30:14

These days, demand for asparagus is booming.

0:30:160:30:19

Production is moving

0:30:190:30:20

from the small-scale cash crop sold at the farm gate

0:30:200:30:23

to a huge commercial activity.

0:30:230:30:25

Down in the Wye valley in Herefordshire,

0:30:280:30:31

Chris Chin is growing a thousand acres of the stuff,

0:30:310:30:33

producing around a fifth of all British spears

0:30:330:30:36

bought in our supermarkets.

0:30:360:30:38

So just take me through the process.

0:30:390:30:40

How are they deciding which ones to cut and which ones not to?

0:30:400:30:43

So these guys... Basically, asparagus grow so quick.

0:30:430:30:45

It'll grow a spear in a day in nice conditions.

0:30:450:30:49

So it grows almost while you're looking at it?

0:30:490:30:51

Yeah, almost, yeah.

0:30:510:30:52

If you leave a stick in the ground next to it

0:30:520:30:54

and go back a few hours later, it'll grow a few centimetres an hour,

0:30:540:30:57

so you'll be seeing the growth.

0:30:570:30:59

Traditionally, you never pick asparagus after Midsummer's Day.

0:31:020:31:05

That's because the plant needs time in the summer months

0:31:050:31:08

to carry on growing into a fully formed fern.

0:31:080:31:11

This has to happen

0:31:130:31:14

so that the plant can photosynthesise the sun's energy,

0:31:140:31:16

feeding the roots, which will then throw up more spears the next year.

0:31:160:31:21

But Chris has now found a way of harvesting asparagus

0:31:240:31:27

well into the autumn and it's all about getting

0:31:270:31:29

energy into those roots earlier in the year.

0:31:290:31:32

It's this that is storing the energy.

0:31:340:31:37

This is the real crop that we're growing.

0:31:370:31:39

And the spears that are coming up through are the asparagus spears

0:31:390:31:42

that you know and love.

0:31:420:31:45

At this time of year, this is what we're expecting.

0:31:450:31:47

But here you've got ferns, so what's happening here?

0:31:470:31:50

These spears started to grow in the spring time when it got warm enough.

0:31:500:31:54

And instead of cutting them off at the point where

0:31:540:31:57

they look like an asparagus spear, we've let them grow.

0:31:570:31:59

And they've started to branch out and they're in fern.

0:31:590:32:01

So we're now getting the sun's energy into the root system

0:32:010:32:05

at this time of year, and then at the end of August,

0:32:050:32:08

we'll chop that down and in September and October,

0:32:080:32:11

we'll get a harvest from them.

0:32:110:32:13

-There's quite a science behind it, isn't there?

-Yeah, there really is.

0:32:130:32:16

And I've actually got something else that's new to the UK

0:32:160:32:19

that I want to show you now.

0:32:190:32:21

It's all go here, isn't it?

0:32:210:32:23

Beneath these sheets is something being grown

0:32:240:32:26

commercially in the UK for the very first time.

0:32:260:32:30

So here we are. That's some white asparagus.

0:32:310:32:34

If you pull this cover over...

0:32:340:32:35

These little babies are asparagus, exactly the same as the green

0:32:360:32:40

but buried in a heap of earth

0:32:400:32:42

and with a little plastic cap on the top, black plastic,

0:32:420:32:44

to stop it photosynthesising so it still stays white.

0:32:440:32:47

So to harvest this... You see the spear, dig down a little bit.

0:32:470:32:51

Get this long asparagus knife right in...

0:32:510:32:54

And just pop it off and there's your spear.

0:32:540:32:56

-Goodness me. It's quite an art, isn't it? Can I try that?

-Yes.

0:32:560:32:59

Absolutely, yeah, go for it.

0:32:590:33:00

-Is this quite exciting and new, then?

-Yeah, this is really new.

0:33:000:33:03

It's very, very popular in Holland and Germany,

0:33:030:33:05

but here, this is the first white asparagus.

0:33:050:33:08

-Does that look about right?

-Yeah.

0:33:080:33:09

-Looks like it.

-Oh, look at that! Like an expert!

0:33:090:33:11

-A little bit short, but...

-HE LAUGHS

0:33:110:33:13

You've got a bit more to practise on now.

0:33:130:33:16

Thank you.

0:33:160:33:17

But how does it taste?

0:33:180:33:20

Chris' mum has set up a barbecue

0:33:200:33:21

with freshly picked white and green asparagus for me to try.

0:33:210:33:25

-Have a try.

-Shall I?

-Yeah.

0:33:250:33:26

Let's try a little bit of white and a little bit of green.

0:33:260:33:28

-These ready to go?

-Yep.

0:33:280:33:29

Ready to go and I'll be interested to see what you say

0:33:290:33:33

about the flavours.

0:33:330:33:34

Mmm! That's delicious. Really lovely.

0:33:340:33:39

A first for me. I've never eaten white before.

0:33:390:33:41

No. No, it's got a lovely asparagus flavour.

0:33:410:33:44

I think it's got more asparagus flavour than the green,

0:33:440:33:47

but the green is a bit sweeter.

0:33:470:33:50

-Mm, much sweeter.

-Yes.

-Very different.

0:33:500:33:52

And there's a lot happening with asparagus, really, isn't there?

0:33:520:33:56

We've moved from a position where we were

0:33:560:33:58

only about 2% of the population ever eaten asparagus, to now more

0:33:580:34:01

and more people are enjoying the joys of British asparagus,

0:34:010:34:05

so it is really exciting times.

0:34:050:34:06

Something that goes very well with fresh asparagus

0:34:140:34:17

is a bit of melted butter.

0:34:170:34:19

And that's where dairy farmers like Geoff Bowles come in.

0:34:190:34:22

-Hello.

-Nice to see you.

-And you.

-You all right?

0:34:250:34:27

-Yeah, very well, thank you.

-Good.

0:34:270:34:30

Geoff recently signed up to supply his produce

0:34:300:34:32

to the Food Assembly in Frome.

0:34:320:34:34

-This is the butter-making area.

-Oh, right.

0:34:400:34:43

-And we'll hopefully show you how to make a bit of butter.

-Yeah.

0:34:430:34:46

-So that's the cream made from our own cows.

-There it is.

0:34:480:34:51

-Cream goes in.

-Yes, double cream.

0:34:510:34:53

And how long does this churn for once it's in here?

0:34:530:34:55

It's about ten minutes, quarter of an hour.

0:34:550:34:59

Just make sure it's secure.

0:34:590:35:01

MACHINE WHIRS

0:35:020:35:05

-You can actually start to see the butter churning already.

-Amazing.

0:35:060:35:10

What was it, then, that got you involved in the Food Assembly?

0:35:100:35:13

The Food Assembly was a very good opening for us

0:35:130:35:16

because it allowed us to get direct to market,

0:35:160:35:19

100% sale in a very short time,

0:35:190:35:21

and there's no wastage because we make what the customer wants.

0:35:210:35:26

After ten minutes of churning, it's ready.

0:35:260:35:29

If you'd like to transfer the butter onto the tray.

0:35:290:35:32

Ooh! Don't waste any.

0:35:320:35:34

-Now what?

-Right, here we go.

0:35:350:35:38

I can do this in my sleep.

0:35:390:35:40

That looks nice. And it's got that very much home-made feel to it.

0:35:440:35:47

Uh-huh. Right, now it's over to you. You've got to keep up, mind.

0:35:470:35:50

-Oh, I know. Right, I'm going to start with hands.

-That's right.

0:35:500:35:53

So...sort of around the...

0:35:540:35:56

Well, I tell you what, it's not as easy as it looks, is it?

0:35:580:36:01

-There we go. It's got some semblance of...

-Oh, there you go. I think so.

0:36:010:36:04

-You've done a little better than me.

-There we go.

0:36:040:36:06

-Let's pop this one on there.

-All of this is traceable.

0:36:060:36:09

We can tell you where the cow was grazing

0:36:090:36:12

-when the cow produced the milk that's made the butter.

-Wow!

0:36:120:36:15

-That is traceable!

-The ultimate traceability.

0:36:150:36:17

As a farmer, what does it mean that it's kept local like this?

0:36:170:36:21

Well, it makes a huge difference.

0:36:210:36:22

It provides local employment, but actually, you get the feedback from

0:36:220:36:26

your customer that a conventional farmer doesn't normally get.

0:36:260:36:29

You get somebody saying, "I had one of you products last week,

0:36:290:36:32

"and it was lovely."

0:36:320:36:33

So you get the reward that we don't get in modern-day farming.

0:36:330:36:36

It is a bit more of an expensive product, though, isn't it?

0:36:360:36:39

Yeah, well, it's bound to be

0:36:390:36:40

because it is produced specifically for the customer.

0:36:400:36:42

We haven't got machinery to do this job, it's all done by hand.

0:36:420:36:46

So the economy's of scale go,

0:36:460:36:48

but you do end up making the bespoke product that the customer wants.

0:36:480:36:51

So he orders the butter, he gets the butter,

0:36:510:36:53

he knows what he's going to pay before he starts - no surprises.

0:36:530:36:56

We get paid instantly through the internet links

0:36:560:37:00

-and we're all happy bunnies.

-That's good.

0:37:000:37:03

Can I just say, these are mine and this one's Geoff's.

0:37:030:37:07

Mine, Geoff's.

0:37:070:37:08

I'm afraid you have got a point there.

0:37:080:37:10

-I'll have to give you that one.

-Hee-hee!

0:37:100:37:12

Have I got a job?

0:37:120:37:14

Well...

0:37:140:37:15

Ah, and I thought I was doing really well.

0:37:150:37:18

I'm in Somerset,

0:37:280:37:29

where I've been finding out just how accessible

0:37:290:37:32

great local produce can be.

0:37:320:37:33

That is amazing!

0:37:330:37:36

In a moment, I'll be visiting Frome's innovative weekly Food Assembly,

0:37:360:37:40

but before that,

0:37:400:37:41

let's continue our celebration of Great British produce with Anita.

0:37:410:37:45

Last summer, she visited a farm in Herefordshire

0:37:470:37:50

where they're putting a whole new spin on a very British fruit.

0:37:500:37:53

I'm on a farm that's a little bit different to the rest -

0:37:560:38:00

a farm in the north of Herefordshire

0:38:000:38:03

that's moving in on traditional French turf.

0:38:030:38:05

All thanks to these...

0:38:050:38:07

blackcurrants.

0:38:070:38:08

Not to be outdone by the more trendy berries on the market, this farm

0:38:100:38:14

is flying the flag for the British blackcurrant in more ways than one.

0:38:140:38:19

Farms like this boomed during the 1940s.

0:38:210:38:24

The government backed the British blackcurrant as a way

0:38:240:38:27

of getting much-needed vitamin C into people's diet after the war.

0:38:270:38:31

The humble berries packed a punch so healthy

0:38:330:38:35

that blackcurrant syrup was given as a supplement

0:38:350:38:38

in schools, hospitals and nursing homes.

0:38:380:38:41

Due to the amount of hot, sunny weather we've had,

0:38:410:38:44

the sugar levels are very high and the berries are very juicy.

0:38:440:38:48

I'm bursting to find out more about today's blackcurrant bonanza

0:38:480:38:52

from farm manager James Wright.

0:38:520:38:53

So after the Second World War, there was

0:38:550:38:57

-quite a big business in blackcurrants in the UK.

-Yes.

0:38:570:39:00

But what is - I'm so sorry about this - the CURRENT state of affairs?

0:39:000:39:04

-HE CHUCKLES

-Sorry!

0:39:040:39:06

The current state of affairs, Anita,

0:39:060:39:08

is there are about 40 blackcurrant growers in the UK.

0:39:080:39:11

However, there used to be hundreds

0:39:110:39:15

and so the actual farmed area has reduced, I think,

0:39:150:39:18

by about 50% since wartime.

0:39:180:39:20

Much of the market has moved abroad, where land and labour costs are

0:39:210:39:25

cheaper, but James and his staff are trying to change the tide,

0:39:250:39:28

using the highest of tech.

0:39:280:39:30

This is basically state of the art, isn't it?

0:39:310:39:34

Yeah, this is the latest model.

0:39:340:39:36

It works by driving over the top of the bush and there's two sets

0:39:360:39:39

of vibrating fingers which shake the branches of the bush.

0:39:390:39:43

Berries fall down onto the conveyers.

0:39:430:39:46

And then over this conveyer.

0:39:460:39:49

And it's perfect, isn't it?

0:39:490:39:50

-It's delicate enough not to destroy the bush.

-It is.

0:39:500:39:52

But it's releasing all the berries.

0:39:520:39:54

Each year, the farm harvests 300-350 tonnes of these zingy pearls

0:39:550:40:01

of goodness, mainly for blackcurrant squash and the frozen fruit market.

0:40:010:40:06

But like so many farms, they've had to diversify to add value

0:40:060:40:09

to their crop, bringing a taste of France to Herefordshire.

0:40:090:40:13

We've started to make blackcurrant liqueur in the same style

0:40:140:40:18

as French cassis and we've labelled that as British cassis.

0:40:180:40:22

-British cassis!

-Yeah.

-Who'd have thought?

0:40:220:40:25

-Hello, Alan.

-Hello!

0:40:250:40:27

-Caught you at a crucial moment.

-You have indeed.

0:40:270:40:30

Here we go.

0:40:300:40:31

Into the juice goes yeast and sugar.

0:40:310:40:33

-Can I do the honours?

-Please do.

0:40:330:40:35

-In it goes. All of it?

-Yep.

0:40:360:40:38

Then it's left to ferment for five to six months.

0:40:400:40:43

Alan Tucker is the farm's cassis king.

0:40:440:40:47

So is anyone else producing cassis in the UK?

0:40:480:40:51

Do you know, I don't think there is.

0:40:510:40:52

I don't know of anybody else that brews it the same way as we do.

0:40:520:40:56

Wow. Well, it smells incredible. It looks beautiful.

0:40:560:41:00

The colour is just bringing joy to my heart.

0:41:000:41:02

And how does this process differ to the French?

0:41:020:41:05

Well, this process is brewed.

0:41:050:41:07

We add the yeast and sugar to the pure fruit juice

0:41:070:41:12

and we keep adding sugar until it is completely fermented.

0:41:120:41:17

The French actually macerate the berries or the currants in sugar

0:41:170:41:24

and steep it in alcohol.

0:41:240:41:25

-Oh. I think taking your time is what it's all about.

-Yeah.

0:41:250:41:30

What it's all about.

0:41:300:41:31

-There we go. So...

-We haven't done that one yet.

-Oh! Failed.

0:41:310:41:35

-Just keeping an eye on my order.

-That's right!

0:41:360:41:39

I've seen the whole process through from bush to bottle.

0:41:390:41:43

I think I deserve a taste.

0:41:430:41:45

And if anyone knows how to get the best out of her blackcurrants,

0:41:450:41:48

it's Julie Green,

0:41:480:41:50

matriarch of the Green family, who have owned the farm since the 1880s.

0:41:500:41:55

Now the moment we've been waiting for.

0:41:560:41:59

Julie's laid on cassis-based puddings and cocktails for us all.

0:41:590:42:02

-Oh, yeah.

-Now then, would you like some of this lovely pudding?

0:42:040:42:08

I would love some pudding.

0:42:080:42:09

-What would you like?

-I think we should just get stuck in.

0:42:090:42:12

James and Alan are wasting no time tasting the fruits of their labour.

0:42:120:42:16

So we are having summer pudding made with British blackcurrants

0:42:170:42:23

right here on this very farm.

0:42:230:42:25

British cassis produced right here - the best of British.

0:42:250:42:29

-Cheers.

-Cheers.

0:42:290:42:32

We've got plenty to celebrate when it comes to British produce.

0:42:350:42:39

And in Frome, it's no exception.

0:42:420:42:45

Here, buyers and sellers come together

0:42:450:42:48

once a week in a foodie fest.

0:42:480:42:50

And now is my opportunity to see it in action

0:42:500:42:53

because it's the weekly Frome Food Assembly.

0:42:530:42:57

It looks and feels just like a farmers' market, but it's not.

0:42:580:43:02

There are no cash sales here.

0:43:020:43:05

This is where buyers come to collect their pre-ordered food

0:43:050:43:08

and get to chat to the producers face-to-face.

0:43:080:43:11

-It's busier than I thought it would be.

-It's buzzing.

-It really is.

0:43:120:43:15

-Good atmosphere.

-Yeah.

-It's almost like this every week.

0:43:150:43:18

Perhaps not quite as busy, but it's still bustling.

0:43:180:43:20

So how important is it - to use the expression they have here -

0:43:200:43:23

to shake the hand that feeds you? How important is that to you?

0:43:230:43:26

It's very important. I love knowing the provenance of the food.

0:43:260:43:31

I love the fact that it's completely fresh, very often cut the same day.

0:43:310:43:35

And it's really important to me that the buyer does get a decent deal.

0:43:350:43:39

-Do you have to go to the supermarket to stock up?

-Yeah.

0:43:420:43:44

Obviously, they don't stock everything,

0:43:440:43:46

but I get most of my veg here and most of my meat and fish from here.

0:43:460:43:50

And it's not just the buyers it's working for.

0:43:510:43:55

-Can I try a bit of what we've got here?

-Please do.

0:43:550:43:57

-This is our goats' brie.

-Ooh-la-la!

0:43:570:43:59

-With a bit of breadstick?

-Yeah.

0:43:590:44:02

Mmm. Lovely!

0:44:020:44:04

So as a producer, how does this work for you?

0:44:040:44:07

We get to meet the customers face-to-face, which is fantastic.

0:44:070:44:10

Do they give you quite honest feedback?

0:44:100:44:12

Yeah, they'll say what they like and it's...

0:44:120:44:16

You know, every now and then we do the taster evenings,

0:44:160:44:18

so then you get new people trying different things.

0:44:180:44:21

Erm, and then we get to order from different people as well.

0:44:210:44:24

I guess it's quite nice to meet fellow producers

0:44:240:44:26

-and kind of share ideas that way too.

-Yeah, definitely, yeah.

0:44:260:44:29

Well, that is it from Frome in Somerset.

0:44:340:44:37

I hope you've enjoyed our celebration of Great British produce

0:44:370:44:40

and offered you a few ideas about how you can access fabulous local food.

0:44:400:44:45

Next week, we'll be in Dorset finding out about a school

0:44:450:44:48

of architecture hidden deep in the woods.

0:44:480:44:51

I'll see you then, after I've eaten every one of these.

0:44:510:44:54

Ellie Harrison is in the pretty market town of Frome in Somerset. She discovers the town's love for local, fresh produce, making tasty pakoras from greens picked by the roadside. She also finds out about a field-to-fork revolution which is taking this place by storm. It's called the Food Assembly and could change the way we shop for our produce. Ellie meets the two mums who set up this scheme in Frome and a dairy farmer who has bought into the Assembly's concept.

Ellie also looks back through the Countryfile archive celebrating the best of British produce, from the time Anita Rani discovered a novel way of cooking goat to Matt Baker's underwater forage for a free, fresh lunch.


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