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Stackyard News Nov 05

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North East Organic Producers Take It Slow

photo courtesy
North East Organic Programme

Organic food producers from across the North East are set to showcase the delicacies they offer at a special Slow Food Lunch this month (November).

Organised by the North East Organic Programme, which was established by the Soil Association with the support of Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES), and the Slow Food Association the lunch aims to raise awareness and promote the wide variety of organic produce to the public sector.

The Slow Food Lunch, in the Banqueting Hall, at Newcastle Civic Centre on Monday, 21 November, from noon, will bring together catering managers from the region's local authorities, schools, NHS trusts and the universities, Councillor Peter Arnold (Newcastle City Council leader), representatives from the North East Organic Programme Steering Group, Joseph De Giorgi (Slow Food Newcastle's Convivium Leader), Sure Start Programme managers, members of the Sustainable Food and Farming Strategy Group, the Northern Rock Foundation and local community food projects including allotments, community cafes and food co-operatives.

Alex Rogerson, North East Organic Development Officer, explained:

"The North East Organic Programme provides a service to all within the region's organic sector and one of the areas we would like to stimulate is the promotion and development of local organic produce within public procurement - introducing it to our local hospitals, schools and others.

"Councillor Arnold very kindly invited us to host the lunch at the Civic Centre and the event will provide an ideal opportunity for us to introduce local organic producers to some of the key decision-makers in the area of public procurement.

"The Slow Food movement was launched in Italy in 1986 to promote and enhance people's knowledge and enjoyment of local foods, combining good food with good company and we hope this collaboration will help stimulate business for the region's organic producers."

Joseph De Giorgi, who is the owner of several nationally recognised restaurants and bars in Newcastle including Secco and Popolo, said:

"This Convivial meal is the perfect opportunity for concerned organisations, official bodies and individuals to embrace the philosophy of Slow. Thorough the exchange of experiences and ideas we can further the aim of improving sustainable farming methods, protecting food cultures and giving value to the culture of gastronomy."

Adrian Vass, an adviser at the Rural Development Service in the North East, said:

"This is a great opportunity for our organic producers to showcase the wide variety of products they can offer to those in the public sector. Organic produce is growing in popularity with consumers generally and there's no reason why that trend should not continue in the public sector.

"This is one of many initiatives and events that the North East Organic Programme will be organising to help develop the region's organic sector and we're delighted to be supporting them."

Councillor Peter Arnold said:

"We welcome the Slow Food Lunch and its important contribution to the organic food movement, good health and well being. I hope that those invited will take the opportunity to look at how they can change their procurement policies to take advantage of this unique opportunity."

* The North East Organic Programme was launched by the Soil Association in December last year with the support of funding from Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme. The Soil Association is the UK's leading charity promoting organic food and farming. The North East Organic Programme aims to provide information and support to all organic farmers and businesses in Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne & Wear and the Tees Valley. It aims to expand and develop the North East organic food and farming sector by offering technical and marketing advice, training and by organising events to bring together those within the sector and promote organic produce.

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