The connection between food and nature


Knowing where our food comes from is vital when it comes to understanding good food. What better way to get kids to grasp this than through nature? Good food comes from the great outdoors, from the fields, the seas and the woodlands, and we are delighted to team up with the National Trust and their 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ campaign to help kids see that.

We spoke to Nicole Armitage ’50 Things’ Engagement Ranger in Bristol to find out more…

How does the 50 things campaign fit with Bristol Food Connections? 

The 50 things campaign is all about getting kids outdoors and closer to nature, making connections with the special places near where they live and spending quality time with their families. Good food comes from the outdoors. Good food means excellent nutrition and the energy to go out exploring. Good food comes from loved land.

How important is it that children connect food with nature and the outdoors? 

It is so very important. It is a sorry state of affairs when a child cannot connect a lamb in the fields to their Easter dinner plate, eggs to chickens or a bag of chips to dirt under their finger nails. But they cannot be blamed, we shy away from telling children the truth about food chains, supermarkets prepare and package heavily and not everyone is lucky enough to have been bought up in a growing household. There is nothing more satisfying than tasting a ripe tomato plucked straight from a plant you have nurtured through a British summer, we think every child should have the chance to at least experience something like that.

Can you give us some examples of the way that parents can do this? 

The 50 things list is such a great way of doing this. It is a list of 50 things that we all did growing up. Simple things such as rolling down a really big hill to more challenging experiences such as canoeing down a river or bringing up a butterfly are all included. Parents can hit their local wild patch such as Leigh Woods and see what they can do, or they can join an organised event with the National Trust if they want a bit more guidance. Once a connection to the outdoors and the nature that lives within it has been made all the other things start to fall into place. Watching a bee flit from flower to flower whilst making a daisy chain raises questions as to what it is doing and why it is doing it, seeing plants unfurl in the spring as the growing season starts now draws connections to what is happening in our fields and watching a centipede devour an ant, well that’s just cool!

Why did you decide to run the events that you are running? 

We really wanted to showcase the really hard work that goes into the food produced at Tyntesfield. Many people believe all National Trust tea rooms, cafes and restaurants are the same. But it is simply not true. All our food (except bread) is made on site at Tyntesfield from food sourced either from the estate or from local producers. All food waste is composted and returned to the estate and the walled garden is in production throughout the year. We sell excess produce to the public and the money raised is ploughed back into the system. At Leigh Woods we have a small heard of The Story Group cows grazing our land, allowing us to maintain our open areas without using heavy machinery such as mowers, and giving the cows a very happy life. Our menus are family friendly and taste focused, changing with the seasons to ensure the freshest and most delicious dishes are available all year round. Really we want to show off a bit, we want to shout from the roof tops about how good our food is but also why it is so good, and how taking a little time to learn about your food and where it comes from can result in you making better food choices for a healthier you, a healthier environment and very happy taste buds!

On Saturday 3rd May, Sunday 4th May and Monday 5th May the National Trust will be running a series of family friendly workshops as part of the festival. The workshops cost just 50p and will include making Crunchy Wacky ‘Slaw and Rhubarb Dib Dabs. The sessions will be run with chef James Blakemore from Tyntesfield’s Cow Barn Kitchen. You can find out more and book here

Find out more about the National Trust’s 50 things campaign.

Bringing people and good food together