March 24th, 2015
Three years ago we started building a big picnic table at the farm in honour of local foods in the Alde Valley, sponsored by Kiwi Fencing at Snape and Drywood Ltd at Kelsale. Plans got bigger, one thing led to another, we felled a few more dead oak trees [a lot had built up in the woods over the past two decades] and the table ended up being just over 100m long.
The idea was to build a table long enough to be seen from space .. or at least from a passing plane or by a high-flying buzzard [of which there are now many in the local area]. Why ? Because the local foods and the landscape of the Alde Valley and Suffolk Coast are truly amazing. They are worth celebrating. They offer a rare but vital glimpse of just how important is the linkage between landscape, local foods and cultural identity.
The Alde Valley and Suffolk coast are blessed with an extraordinary variety of soils – from heavy boulder clay to clay-loam, loam, sand and alluvial silt or peat. This variety of soils in turn supports a remarkable range of farming practices and local produce. You name it, and the Alde Valley and Suffolk Coast probably have it ! From asparagus, potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbages, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, plums, pears and medlars to rare breed beef, seasonal lamb, mutton, pork, fish, poultry and game; from jams, beers, wines, cyders and juices to cheeses, yoghurts, honey, smoked foods, salamis, sausages, hams and herbs .. the list goes on.
The 2015 Alde Valley Spring Festival has received generous support from the Suffolk Coast Ltd DMO. We are using some of this funding to expand the Big Picnic Table. A few lengths have been taken into the farm’s woodworking shop to be made into smaller indoor tables for people’s homes. This means it has shrunk to a measly 61m long. So we have been milling again and are planning to extend the table by 25m beyond its original 101m.
This should take it to about 126m, which is still a good 150m short of the farm’s boundary in one direction and at least half a mile in the other – ie there is still plenty of slack to extend. A check online says that this might make it the longest picnic table in the UK, if not Europe and maybe even the world – but that feels only fitting for this beautiful landscape and the amazing local foods that are produced in it .. and all the people working with foods, conservation and farming in the area that bring the countryside to life ! It also celebrates the tenth birthday of the Spring Festival’s sister project Pesta Nukenen dan Kebudayaan Kelabit [The Kelabit Food and Cultural Festival] in the beautiful Kelabit Highlands in the Heart of Borneo, Sarawak, East Malaysia :
We are holding a BYO Big Spring Picnic on Saturday 16th May 2015 as part of the Finale Weekend Celebrations. Do come and join in. Families and friends welcome. The table should be able to seat about 550 people – come by foot or bike, car share if you can. [No dogs please.] There will be an Alde Valley Lamb Curry for sale with salad and sour dough bread + Spring Cordial. For great places to source local food and drinks for a BYO picnic, have a look at the Food Adventures tab. Make a weekend of it and stay locally or on the coast .. the Places to Stay tab has information on B&Bs, holiday cottages, camping venues and hotels in the area.
If you join the Big Spring Picnic please also email to book a ticket : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entry is free this year, but by pre-booked ticket only. Please let us know if you would like to order Alde Valley Lamb Curry.