Sunny day, fresh air, a cat lazing on the grass, …sounds like the beginning of a film. But in fact, we were at the Cyrenians Farm, for our Slow Food Scotland Chef Alliance meeting.

No whites, but comfortable clothing suitable for a harvest day. Yes, our chefs in Scotland were out for a harvest day.

Rob Davidson, enterprise and farm manager, welcomed us and took us through the history of the charity and how the organic farm supported their social projects.

Soon after the introduction, Rob had arranged a farm tour to see their fresh produce, the amazing diversity and great sustainability values. Quinoa, ancient corn, cucumber, beans, nasturtium, herbs, fennel, happy chickens, over 25 different types of apples and the list goes on.

Looking at this amazing range, interesting to think that during the Iron Age in Scotland, the Scots used to consume over 175 different types of plants. Today over 75% of our world diet is based on 12 plants (FAO, 2016), how did we get here?

The tour was an opportunity for the chefs to learn more about the permaculture principles, but the tour was shortened by Vivian Maeda – Slow Food Scotland, Chef Alliance Coordinator who watched the time and had to move on into the next task: one group of chefs helped with the harvest and the other group was in charge of the lunch for the group using the farm produce.

During our lunch prepared by Neil Forbes, Donna McArdle and Ann (long standing volunteer at the Cyrenians Farm), Celia Nyssens from Nourish Scotland discussed with the chefs how to further develop the ‘Manifesto for Chefs in a Good Food Nation’. Chefs have a huge role to play in the food and drink landscape. Their choices for suppliers, ingredients and dishes are influential in Scotland. Celia planted the seeds and she asked each chef to think about the manifesto and provide comments to her about the way forward.

The farm trip was a great opportunity for the chef alliance members to catch up and learn about the reality of Cyrenians Farm, a small organic farm. Slow Food believes in the collaboration between chefs and small farmers and small food producers. Such visits are key to better understand not only where good food comes from and how it is produced, but also it is an opportunity for chefs to learn more about the realities of running a small farm, the amazing community spirit, and the struggles they go through as well. Should we mention Brexit or Land Reform? Our next meeting will be in October and agenda is in draft format, but we will probably have a talk about ‘Food and History and its cultural significance’, a summary of Slow Food ‘Terra Madre’ and a catch up about our ‘Slow Food Scotland Chef Alliance Subgroups’.

Interested in joining the Slow Food Scotland Chef Alliance? Please contact Vivian Maeda for more information: chefalliance@slowfoodscotland.com