Local chefs, cooks, fishermen and foodies put on their aprons and overalls last weekend for the Hastings’ Midsummer Fish festival in the Old Town.
This year the weather was far better than forecast and thousands gathered to sample the very best in locally sourced food and wine.
The cookery demonstrations in the ‘classroom on the coast’ were very popular, as was the exhibition of Laetitia Yhap’s paintings of fishermen in Stade Hall.
And there was even a chance for visitors to take to the sea, with ‘Adventure Activities Sussex’ organising ‘taster’ kayaking sessions from the beach.
With net making demonstrations and fish-printing organised by Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society, the fish-printing with the help of Radiator Arts too, it really was a packed weekend.
And there was fantastic live music, and even Morris dancing to enjoy!
One of the most enjoyable parts of my work as your local MP is supporting our local farmers and food producers.
I regularly visit our local farmers markets and fishmongers to buy fresh, reasonably priced, locally produced meat, fish and other local produce.
We certainly are very lucky in Hastings and Rye to have such a wealth of excellent local producers and farms, and good independents which are inspired by the dedication, passion and innovation of all those I have met.
It is great to see so many of them doing well! They are what make our area a unique place to live in.
Given the many livelihoods of residents that are interconnected or entirely dependent on the future growth and success of our thriving food and drink sector of our economy, it is important to remember that money spent locally stays local by being recycled through local businesses and services rather than disappearing in foreign investor dividends.
We have always enjoyed wine in my family and thanks to our talented winemakers, including our local family-run Carr Taylor Vineyard, we have had plenty to celebrate this week as part of the 1066 Wine and Food Festival which highlights the culture of good wine and food.
Earlier this year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs predicted that exports of English and Welsh wine would break the £100million barrier this year alone, with two thirds of it sparkling wine.
Our very own Carr Taylor Vineyard offers an award winning range of Sparkling and Still wines, all grown and developed on 15 hectares of vineyards in East Sussex and I am very proud that our confident producers can take the Australians, French and Italians on at what was their own game!
In addition, just this week the Environment Secretary said that winemakers would be able to use the government’s 3D satellite maps, information on soil types and climate data to pinpoint the best places to plant vineyards.
Releasing the data will give our winemakers a hi-tech edge by enabling them to find what the French call the best “terroir” for new grape varieties.
This new technology will help create a golden age for our winemakers and help them go from strength to strength.
From local fish markets to local family-run businesses, from farm shops to Michelin stars, here in Hastings and Rye together we are making local food a truly important part of many people’s lives.
P.S Don’t miss this final weekend of the 1066 Wine and Food Festival where there will be the Wine Fair in the Stade Hall!