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Open Cambridge hosts community feast

The hugely popular heritage festival, Open Cambridge, is gearing up to host its first ever community feast on the evening of 17 September 2021

As part of Open Cambridge, which launches tomorrow and runs until 19 September 2021, Sam Dyer, CEO and Director of Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC, and Councillor Alex Collis are getting ready to prepare a fabulous plant-based feast for the whole community using some of the finest produce grown by CoFarm, Cambridge's first Community Farm.

Diners are welcome to bring their own drinks and the cost for the dinner is in the form of donations to Cambridge Sustainable Food and CoFarm. Tickets are expected to sell out fast, so organisers are encouraging diners to book early to reserve a place.

The ‘feast’ is part of the culture and heritage festival, Open Cambridge, which hosts an array of events that are set to showcase the City’s culinary past and present under the Heritage Open Day’s 2021 theme ‘Edible England’. Through a series of free walks, talks, tours, exhibitions, drop-ins and online events, visitors can explore what and how we ate spanning hundreds of years and how we eat now and in the future.

The Community Feast is set to take place at Marmalade Lane, Cambridge’s first Co-housing community, and consists of a three-course and creative plant-based feast using locally grown and seasonal produce straight from CoFarm’s vegetable plots. Having been picked the day of the event, these fresh vegetables guide the menu on the day, showcasing how seasonal vegetables can stretch a cook's imagination, challenging them to create new and exciting dishes.

The aim of the dinner is to celebrate the fantastic produce from CoFarm, which is entirely staffed by local volunteers, alongside the work taking place across Cambridge to build a sustainable food future – also showcased throughout Open Cambridge.

Following the dinner, CoFarm Founder and CEO, Gavin Shelton, reveals how CoFarm started and how the project is bringing people together to grow and share nutritious food, building stronger communities and healthier ecosystems in Cambridge.  

Speaking ahead of the Community Feast, Sam Dyer said: “This event will celebrate and spread awareness of the joys of sustainable food, using a menu based entirely on seasonal and locally grown fruit and vegetables. Community is central to shaping a sustainable and resilient food system, and we want to provide an opportunity for people to reconnect with their community over our plant-based feast, while raising vital funds to support the city’s community food work, shaping a food system where everyone has access to healthy and sustainable food across the city.”

Alex Collis, who is Executive Councillor for Sustainable Food on Cambridge City Council, said how much she was looking forward to the event: “It's going to be great to get back into the kitchen with Sam again, and we can't wait to cook up a feast to showcase the best of sustainable food in Cambridge. CoFarm has been such an amazing support to our food hub network, and we know how much residents who visit the hubs each week value being able to pick up fresh fruit and veg that they might not otherwise have access to. Locally grown food like this is the future of our food system - and it's helping build community as well. Just this week one woman said to me at the Cherry Hinton hub, “The fruit and veg is what we come here for. It's meant my kids have been able to try new things and eat healthily”, and we're helping fight food waste too.”

In a further Open Cambridge event earlier on the same day, visitors can enjoy a short tour around the community garden run by and for local homeless and vulnerably housed people: Our Community Allotment Open Gardens (10:00am-4:00pm, 18 September). During the tour, the project coordinator and some of the members discuss the therapeutic community and show visitors around the site including the beach-themed show garden, wildlife area with ponds, secret bramble walkway, vegetable plots, bee keeping area and lots more. This project is managed by Cambridge Cyrenians.

Related Open Cambridge events:

  • Dig for Tomorrow: an introduction to Burnside Allotments and their history (9:30am-10:30am and 11:30am-12:30pm, 11 September) – The Burnside Allotments are both beautiful and fascinating for their history, for the way they are flourishing at present, and for what they can offer for a sustainable future. Local expert Keith Jordan and Cromwell Road artist-in-residence Emma Smith host a guided tour.
  • Bug hunt @ Trumpington Community Orchard (2:00pm-4:00pm on Saturday 11 September) – Trumpington Community Orchard has several habitats, such as a flowering meadow and a native hedgerow. A local expert helps visitors search through the undergrowth and identify any mini beasts or bugs. Visitors can also learn about plant propagation and pot on some cuttings of herbs or a rooted strawberry runner to take home.
  • Vegetal Hospitality (7:00pm-8:30pm, 14 September) – Inspired by the history of allotments in Petersfield and Romsey, artist Emma Smith explores the city as an expanded allotment. This talk shares plants that can be foraged in urban spaces as well as reflections on living reciprocally with our co-habitants.
  • Vegetal Hospitality: activity sheets (all day from 10 September until 19 September) – Download a free Phuplec activity pack with activity sheets for sharing and growing mind, body and plant. Share recipes from produce that can be bought easily or homegrown, grow your own veg from scraps and connect with the plants around you.

Keep up to date with the Festival via Twitter: @OpenCambridgeUK | Instagram: @CamUniFestivals

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