The education gardener at Dumfries House is Chris Jones
The education gardener at Dumfries House is Chris Jones

Getting ready for a celebration of healthy food

A celebration of organic and sustainable growing and produce from Scotland is set to launch next month at Dumfries House in Ayrshire.

The event will pre-empt a national festival of food and drink lined up for summer next year.

Scottish Organic and Sustainable will promote organic and sustainable growing and production and will be launched on Sunday, 5 August, with an Eat Happy Summer Supper event at the estate near Cumnock.

It will be hosted by healthy eating author Melissa Hemsley. Future events will showcase growers and produce from across Scotland, with next year’s festival enabling guests to sample and purchase food and drink from across the country and interact with cookery demonstrations and masterclasses on organic and sustainable production.

Next month’s dinner will be hosted by Melissa, who, with sister Jasmine, has amassed a large following thanks to the success of a Hemsley and Hemsley café in London’s Selfridge’s department store as well as cookbooks containing recipes made from whole, organic, nutrient-filled ingredients.

Dinner guests will sample food including organic ingredients from Dumfries House estate and have the opportunity to meet organic experts including estate staff and Melissa herself. Melissa’s latest cookbook, Eat Happy, will be available for sale and to be signed by the author.

The Kauffman Education Gardens at Dumfries House, where thousands of school children each year learn about the skills involved in cultivating and cooking vegetables, was declared officially organic in January. Home Farm, a quarter-of-a-mile away on the 2000-acre estate, is set to follow suit in January 2019.

Organic certification represents a realisation of a major element of HRH The Prince of Wales’s overall vision for the East Ayrshire site he saved for the nation in 2007.

Melissa said: ‘The idea behind the Eat Happy Summer Supper is to introduce healthy, wholesome ways of cooking and eating to our guests.

‘They will have the opportunity to see produce grown to organic principles, speak to experts about how to grow their own, and the sample some of the estate’s – and Ayrshire’s – finest organic and sustainable fare as part of a really fun evening.

‘Dumfries House is such an inspirational setting for an event whose objective – promoting organic and sustainable growing and production – is close to my heart. I’m proud to be an ambassador for Scottish Organic and Sustainable as the series is launched and look forward to playing a part in future events.’

The education gardener at Dumfries House is Chris Jones

Chris Jones, education gardener at Dumfries House, is an active ambassador for organic growing and is excited to be part of Scottish Organic and Sustainable.

She said: ‘We are proud to host an event that celebrates organic and sustainable production in Scotland and promotes the value of growing and manufacturing food and drink in a way that is healthy and helpful to future generations.

‘Organic growing focuses on creating a healthy living soil and organic methods are an important factor in food security and people’s health. How we farm affects the quality of the food we eat.

‘Organic farming espouses the highest standards of animal welfare, reduces our exposure to pesticides, supports more wildlife, and offsets greenhouse gases.

‘Having the organic certificate is a way of ensuring that people know exactly how we grow our produce at the education garden and Home Farm. Ultimately, if you follow the standards and best practice, when you finish with your garden or farm, you should leave it in better condition for future generations.’

Isla McCulloch, business development manager at Soil Association Scotland, welcomed the foundation of Scottish Organic and Sustainable.

She agreed: ‘Soil Association Scotland was delighted to certify The Kauffman Education Gardens as officially organic in January. The organic market in Scotland is growing year by year, and public awareness of what organic really means – for health and for the environment – has never been higher. People want to see organic and sustainable produce become more available. We’re happy to support this new initiative to celebrate the wonderful organic growing and production happening across Scotland.’

Debs Roberts, policy manager at Scottish Organic Producers Association, concluded: ‘SOPA are delighted to welcome this initiative to the Scottish food scene. We represent more than 80 per cent of all organic businesses in Scotland and celebrating organic food and farming is good for all. Dumfries House is a fantastic location and it is very exciting to see the development of an organic festival to bring people together.’

Tickets to the Eat Happy Summer Supper can be booked by calling 01290 429 913.