Good Food Cardiff Autumn Festival returns to showcase community spirit

The Good Food Cardiff Autumn Festival returns from 10 September to 18 October with dozens of events planned across the city.

Community groups, schools, gardens and businesses will run a wide range of events centered around cooking, sharing and growing food. Many events this autumn will focus on how communities are coming together to help people to continue to access healthy and nutritious food through the cost of living crisis.

Food Cardiff and C3SC have provided grants to 20 schools and community groups to run events as part of the Autumn Festival’s programme, with many other community organizations also joining in with their own self-funded events during the five weeks.

The Good Food Autumn Festival launches at Amgueddfa Cymru Food Festival at St Fagans National Museum of History on the weekend of 10-11 September. The Festival will have a dedicated Good Food Cardiff Zone with a program of workshops and demonstrations throughout both days which include cooking demos from author, presenter and registered dietitian, Beca Lyne-Pirkis, to growing and wildlife workshops from Keep Wales Tidy and Grow Cardiff.

In response to the cost of living crisis, all sessions will focus on accessing healthy and nutritious food. The Good Food Cardiff Zone will celebrate the work that community groups are doing throughout Cardiff and buses have been provided to help people without access to transport to join in the Festival.

Other Autumn Festival events include:

Splott-based food co-op, Splo-down is hosting a Solidarity Feast on 25 September. They provide veg boxes and other food and drink on a ‘solidarity model’ – they buy in bulk to keep costs low, then sell on the basis that some people pay more and others less depending on their means, for the same food. The Solidarity Feast will be a communal meal held in Splott Park with people cooking from Splo-down food boxes and recipes that they’ve been provided with. Splo-down helps people on low incomes, asylum seekers, refugees and people with no access to other support in Splott, Tremorfa and Adamsdown.

CEYZ, an organization supporting young people in Ely and Caerau are hosting Look, Cook and Eat! a cookalong for families with children of primary school age. The event will be based around ingredients that can be sourced locally and feature fruit and veg near/over ‘sell-by’ date to show that food waste can be reduced by using produce that is still good to eat. The session will introduce new fruit and vegetables (look), show people how to prepare the ingredients (cook) and then bring everyone together for a shared meal (eat!).

Llamau will be running healthy eating and cooking evenings at its new supported accommodation project for young people at risk of homelessness on the theme of Healthy fakeaways from around the world. Support workers and the young people will research recipes for their chosen cuisine – Arabian, American, Asian and Italian – and will shop locally before cooking and sharing a meal every Thursday evening during the festival. The program supports key life skills to help young people gain independence as well as helping to build confidence and community networks.

Urban Vertical CIC is running workshops on the new Railway Gardens site in Splott, teaching people about Vertical Farming – Farm to Fork. People can learn how to grow microgreens to supplement their usual food supply. In the first of two workshops, participants will learn about the ideas behind vertical farming and look at recipes and menus for using the produce. The second workshop will be a community harvest supper, shared at Railway Gardens Open Day on 12 October.

The Love Yourself Community Group is bringing together women from the community who would otherwise not have a safe space to connect and share their passion for cooking. The women will shop locally to serve weekly community brunches in Butetown which showcase their cooking skills and encourage others to use the fresh and local ingredients available in their own communities.

Riverside, Roath and Rhiwbina Farmers Markets are hosting free Cook, Eat, Grow workshops across the weekend of 14/15/16 October which will cover growing microgreens at home, preserving seasonal produce and cooking on a budget using locally-grown ingredients.

Several of the city’s primary schools are also involved in getting involved. Herbert Thomson Primary in Ely is running an open day at its edible classroom and ‘pay as you feel’ community shop. St Paul’s CIW Primary in Grangetown is running a cookalong session to help children and families to make healthy choices for packed lunches and cooking at home. Ton Yr Ywen Primary in Heath will be handing over its school allotment to Year 6 pupils who will be harvesting crops and planting new vegetables for later in the school year. Pengam Pavilion Allotment will be hosting Tremorfa Nursery School with their own growing space on the allotment and teaching them to plant and care for food plants.

All of the events also support Food Cardiff’s Good Food Strategy for the city which sets out five food goals – a healthy Cardiff; an environmentally sustainable Cardiff; a thriving local economy; a fair and connected food system; and an empowering food movement.

Pearl Costello is the festival organizer and Food Cardiff coordinator. she said:

“The autumn festival is an opportunity for communities, schools and local businesses to come together over good food. It’s a chance to look at how we become a healthier, more sustainable city, and also for communities to tackle some of the big issues we face more immediately.

“Previous festivals have targeted issues such as food insecurity, loneliness and social isolation in the wake of the pandemic. These issues are still there, and are now being exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. It’s vital that everyone involved in the food system in the city has opportunities to reach people and communities in need and have help to access affordable, nutritious food.

“The festival is a celebration of the growing good food movement in the city and, more importantly, a chance for anyone to learn more about what they eat and build their skills in cooking and growing food,” she said.

This is the third Good Food Cardiff Autumn Festival organized by Food Cardiff to support and promote the city-wide mission to make Cardiff one of the UK’s most Sustainable Food Cities. More than 5,000 people have been involved in events over the previous autumn festivals, with more than 5,000 vegetable plants distributed and hundreds of meals cooked and shared together.

If organizations or community groups want to run events as part of the programme, they can contact Food Cardiff via its website or social media channels.