Su Carroll looks at the changing focus on food at Dartington.

In 1925, Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst bought the run-down Dartington Estate near Totnes. They were visionaries who began what they called the “Dartington Experiment” – bringing together other like-minded, creative people for education and inspiration. In the early days, the couple spearheaded changes to the estate – Schumacher College, Dartington Hall School and Dartington Tweed Mill were established, followed by Dartington Glass and The Shops at Dartington.

Times change, and in 2015 Dartington Hall Trust held Open Space meetings following the arrival of CEO Rhodri Samuel to discuss proposals for the gardens, development, land use, food, arts, social justice and community of enterprises.

One of the areas earmarked for expansion is food, with chef Oliver Rowe being appointed as Dartington Hall Trust’s Director of Food and Drink. It’s a good fit for the Dartington ethos – Oliver is the man whose trials in setting up a London restaurant with locally- sourced food was recorded in the BBC documentary, Urban Chef.

Oliver’s appointment to the team signals “more joined-up thinking” he says. “Dartington is an amazing place. It offers a broad spectrum of the elements you need as a person to approach life and any given situation. It’s a holistic approach and I love that; it’s why I’m here. We look at everything from every angle.”

Dartington is home to The White Hart Bar and Restaurant – holder of a Sustainable Restaurant Association star, The Roundhouse Café which offers drinks and light snacks, and a new space – The Green Table which has an informal atmosphere with big tables, a deli-style counter, an open- plan kitchen and a large terrace with tables and chairs.

Oliver’s job is to advise and guide using everything he’s learned about sourcing locally and responsibly. He’s been working with The Green Table head chef Tara Vaughan- Hughes to develop an interesting menu in a space which is “quite a departure” for Dartington. “Sometimes you create an audience when you give people something they’re not expecting. The Green Table was like this for Dartington – a completely fresh approach.”

He will also help to strengthen the links between tenant farmers on the Dartington estate who farm the land in innovative ways that benefit the community. As his experiences on Urban Chef will testify, it isn’t as easy as it looks. “It can be difficult to work with really small producers,” he admits. “Some of the ingredients that we need are hard to find in the volume we want. Then it’s about menu planning and discussing with the producers what we’re cooking and making sure they know what we’re about. We’re about great ingredients, locally sourced, being considerate to the environment and working with people in the area. We have respect for the produce, the animals and staff. That’s our food concept.”

Oliver started cooking as a teenager, working in the kitchen of an art school in Tuscany, run by his cousin, the sculptor and art historian Nigel Konstam. He learned from Italian women how to make simple pasta dishes that owed a lot to the landscape surrounding him.

At the age of 22, he wandered into the kitchens of Moro in London looking for work and found himself honing his craft there. Stints at restaurants in London and France followed before he opened a café in London and then a restaurant, Konstam (after his grandmother) at the Prince Albert – the focus of the Urban Chef series.

“My mum was a very, very good cook, and so was my grandmother, and I definitely have a connection to that period in time. One of the great things about the chefs at Dartington is they’re not throwing anything away; there’s an appreciation for the ingredients – the way they’re cooked and presented. It’s about keeping it simple,” Oliver adds.

London-based Oliver’s commitment to Dartington is three days a week but he says it’s no hardship to come to “a stunning” part of the world. “It’s not a million miles from London and it has a good vibe. There’s a real sense of community.” So, is Dartington going to be a deep-fat fryer free zone? Oliver laughs “We do have deep-fat fryers! You can’t knock a good chip and we do great ones at The White Hart. After all, everyone loves fish and chips, but we make sure we get potatoes that are sustainably sourced.”

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A new distillery in town

British retailer and social enterprise, The Shops at Dartington, are to introduce a brand-new permanent distillery within their Food Hall, to launch at the start of May. In partnership with Devon Distillery, the new copper still will produce The Shops at Dartington’s signature bottle of Elmhirst Gin, and will also have the capability of producing other contract gins as well as other spirits at a later date. The distillery will also be running a boutique gin experience, enabling small classes to learn the process of making gin, while they can smell, taste and witness the entire process from start to finish. Cosmo Caddy, the founder of Devon Distillery, has alcohol production in his DNA, as his grandfather founded Sharpham Vineyard in the year Cosmo was born. Cosmo travelled the world in pursuit of wine and spirit production, before honing his craft in Italy with a 9th generation grappa distilling family. He then returned to South Devon and crafted Dappa - Devon’s version of grappa made from the skins of Sharpham Wine grapes, as well as launching the UK’s only mobile still known as ‘Still on the Move’ that makes bespoke gin anywhere in the country. With more than grape vines running through his veins, Cosmo’s roots also lead back to Dartington, as his great-grandparents, Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst were the pioneering entrepreneurs who founded the Dartington Hall project. When the Elmhirsts purchased the then neglected 14th century Dartington estate, they restored the estate buildings and set up a host of farming, forestry and educational products including Dartington Hall School, Dartington Tweed Mill and Dartington Glass. As innovative thinkers themselves, Dartington became a magnet for artists, architects, writers, philosophers and musicians from around the world. 93 years later, the Elmhirst’s direct descendant, Cosmo Caddy intends to build on his predecessors’ legacy and will continue to instil the values of his ancestors in Devon Distillery at The Shops at Dartington. ‘Establishing Devon Distillery at The Shops at Dartington adds another chapter to my rich family heritage in this region.’ Says Cosmo. ‘Alcohol production is my absolute passion, and I’ve spent years learning, tasting and blending in pursuit of the best spirits to create exceptional quality products with integrity. I’m thrilled to have a permanent base at Dartington to continue this journey.’ ‘This is a great coming together of two locally renowned families. Devon Distillery coming to The Shops at Dartington will fortify the fascinating history of the Dartington Estate,’ continues Barbara King, Managing Director of The Shops at Dartington. ‘With 60% of products within the Food Shop procured from Devon and a further 30% from the West Country, we couldn’t be more pleased that the footprint of our gin will be only a matter of yards.’ Bringing the still into the Food Shop creates high visibility for this interesting process and visitors will be able to witness the process of distilling. The Shops at Dartington are situated on the grounds of the picturesque Dartington Estate and consists of 15 unique, independent shops in South Devon, near Totnes. The shops are based inside quirky buildings as this part of the estate was an old cider press. It’s a family destination, with parks and activities for young children.

Discount to emergency services workers

Bayards Kitchen is offering all those who work in emergency services 10 per cent off food and non-alcoholic beverages at its Dartington café to coincide with the launch of its new weekly pizza evenings. The café, which was taken over by Charlie and Zuzana Deuchar in November 2016, is a thriving hub for the local community and beyond, with safe play areas for toddlers indoors, and eclectic menus that includes vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Now Charlie and Zuzana want to give back to the local emergency services by giving them a permanent discount off all food and non-alcoholic drink orders. Charlie said: “People who work in the emergency services spend their working lives looking out for others and saving lives. “This is just something very small that we can do to show how much we respect them. We’re very much community focused and its great to be able to thank those in our community who are devoted to helping others. This is just a tiny perk to let them know how much they are valued.” Those eligible for the discount include NHS workers, armed service personnel and those who hold a Blue Light Card, which provides a multitude of discounts for armed service personnel. The discount will be launched on May 18, at Bayards Kitchen’s inaugural pizza evening. “We’re really proud to be supporting the emergency services in this way, and we thought the perfect time to launch would be at the first of our Friday night pizza nights when everyone who comes along will be given a free glass of prosecco. Everyone loves pizza and we’ll be offering eat in and take out service,” said Charlie. To view the pizza menu visit www.bayardskitchen.co.uk

Totnes Pride set to be bloomin’ marvellous!

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The historic market town of Totnes in Devon is set to host the sixth Totnes Pride on Saturday 1st September 2018.

Social enterprise Proud2Be is laying on a whole host of events, which will bring the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and/or asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) community together with their allies, to celebrate diversity in the town.

This year’s theme is ‘Marsha Was Her Name’. In a recent blog post, Proud2Be Co-founders Jae and Max Price revealed the meaning behind the theme:

‘Marsha P. Johnson is an important figure in LGBTQIA+ history. Too often the actions of Marsha and those like her are ignored, erased and hidden; not just from what we are taught at school but in how our history is spoken about, sometimes from even within our community. It’s for this reason that we are really excited to have the opportunity to honour Marsha and those like her at this year’s Totnes Pride.’

‘Marsha’s legacy reminds us of what Pride is truly about. It is a celebration of who we are. It is a reminder of where we have come from. It is a statement of where we are going. Marsha often wore flowers in her hair, so this year we invite everyone to hold, wear and/or decorate themselves in flowers!’

This year’s special guests are Human Rights Activist, Feminist and founder of African Rainbow Family Aderonke Apata and Film makers (My Genderation) and trans campaigners Fox and Owl.

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Fox and Owl

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Aderonke Apata

The day kicks off at 10.45am outside The Dartmouth Inn with a special performance from Spectrum Choir and opening speeches. The award-winning Samba ROC Band, will then lead a procession up Fore Street and High Street to Totnes Civic Hall at 11.30am. The road closure will be in place between 10.30am – 1pm at Ticklemore Street and from the bottom of Fore Street up to where the High Street meets Castle Street.

Community bus service Bob the Bus will be running a park and ride service from 10am at King Edward VI Community College (KEVICC) and will also be transporting wheelchair users and those with mobility issues up the procession at 11.15.

It is at the Civic Hall from midday, where visitors can enjoy workshops, talks and live music, community stalls, Dot’s Cafe, a youth space and a variety of family-friendly activities including art and craft, slime making, face painting and much more.

There will be a panel discussion from 3:00pm at Pie Street, where local and national activists will discuss the theme: ‘Can We Be Proud of Pride?’.

There will be registered British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters present to interpret the opening speeches and the panel discussion.

The fun continues into the evening at Totnes Pride After Party from 7.00pm at Totnes Civic Hall, which will be hosted by The Ambiguous A and feature live music from popular Disco Funk band Golddust and DJ sets from Mamma Boogie Oogie, Rhi Rhi Rhythm and Madame Souza.

Due to a successful bid to People’s Health Trust using money raised by HealthContact through The Health Lottery, entry to all daytime events are free. Tickets to the After Party are £10.00 (16 and over) and are available to purchase online and at Totnes Pride day event.

To mark the event Totnes Town Council will once again, raise the rainbow flag over Totnes Civic Hall. The flag raising ceremony will take place on Monday 27th August at 6.30pm, followed by a Totnes LGBTQIA+ History Tour led by local Writer, Historian and Publisher Bob Mann.

Inspired by their own experiences of bullying, discrimination and shame- identical twins Jae & Max Price set up Proud2Be in 2011 when they recorded the first Proud2Be video. Since then various public figures and members of the public have contributed to the campaign.

As well as campaigning and hosting Totnes Pride, Proud2Be facilitates various groups and events, including a social group, activity days, fundraiser discos and more. In 2014 Proud2Be launched its youth project which now includes a youth group and a counselling & mentoring service.

Proud2Be delivers workshops to school students and awareness training to organisations around the UK.

About this year’s event, Proud2Be co-founder Max said:

“The Pride Action Group have been working tirelessly for the past year to ensure that Totnes Pride continues to be an event that we can all be proud of. For us, Pride is both a celebration and a protest and we invite everyone to come and join us for the sixth Pride in the town.”

Proud2Be are looking for volunteers to help out on the day. If you would like to get involved, please email Jules & Dot at volunteer@proud2be.co.uk.

Proud2Be are also encouraging local businesses and residents to show their support by displaying rainbow flags during the week of Pride. These are available to buy for £7 from Proud2Be.

To find out more about Totnes Pride or to buy an After-Party ticket, please visit totnespride.co.uk or email info@proud2be.co.uk.