Award-winning Ballantrae Festival of Food and Drink is set to take place online again this year, and after last year’s success the festival is widening its virtual reach by linking up with Norway, Finland and Germany.
This weekend (12th-13th June), producers will connect with consumers via online markets and a packed timetable of video presentations, discussions on sustainable food tourism provision, and interactive sessions hosted in conjunction with UNESCO Biospheres, The Scottish Food Guide, and Slow Food. The festival is supported by Ballantrae Community Development Trust and last year’s COVID-friendly format saw 7000+ visitors engage online, compared to circa 3000-4000 at previous events.
This long-standing annual event showcases the very best growers, producers, retailers, and cooks in south-west of Scotland with a roster of participants including Blackthorn Salt, Dunlop Dairy, Pure Roasters Coffee, Wendy Barrie, Island Slice Rum, Galloway Wild Foods, Errington Cheese, Home Cook School, and Crafty Distillery. As well as local enterprises, Ballantrae Festival of Food and Drink will also showcase foraging tips, a Scottish cheese tour, gin workshops, Young Farmers interviewed by even younger farmers, and an enlightening talk titled ‘Mythbusting Chardonnay’. All the businesses represented at the Ballantrae Festival depend on ‘eat local, shop local’.
Recruited from among European members of the global UNESCO Biosphere network, attendees will include a wild sheep farmer from Norhordland, Norway; a wild food forager from North Karelia, Finland; and an apple-sherry producer from Rhon, Germany.
Organisers hope to build on that breadth of engagement this year with the benefit of additional funding partners and with the support of the Scotland Food and Drink Regional Food Group, whose coordinators have been working with the Ballantrae team since October 2020.
Dr Mhairi Mckenna, of the Ballantrae organising group said: “We are delighted that the UNESCO Biospheres are supporting this important initiative and bringing a strategic international perspective to our regional event.”
Howard Wilkinson, chairperson of the Ayrshire Food Network, added: “The additional resources which SFAD funding has provided us over the last nine months have enabled us to engage more widely with food tourism businesses throughout the southwest of Scotland.”
Marie McNulty, business development officer at the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, brought the organisation’s international Biosphere contacts on board.
She said: “There are many learning opportunities arising from transnational exchanges, especially in light of the 50th Anniversary of UNESCO's Man & the Biosphere Programme which is all about improving the relationship between people and environment and making our food systems sustainable.”
For further information about the festival visit www.ballantraefoodfest.com