The Food Assembly

Have you got a Food Assembly near you?  Our nearest one is in Harrogate, and last night we went to find out more, at an Open Evening they organised.

In a room above Starlings, we found a clutch of local food producers: an organic farm selling ethically produced meat (and chicken bones! For making wonderful stock!); a bakery; an Italian food producer; a cake-baker from Ripon; a properly-local ready meal supplier; a vegi-box scheme; a cheesemonger, a rape seed oil producer. Among many others.

We knew Emma, who’d started Harrogate’s Food Assembly, was onto something.  Every week, members of the Assembly can order from a range of locally and ethically produced goods, and meet those same producers when they come to collect their shopping on a Thursday evening.  Brilliant.  What a great way to support and meet local, high quality and human-scale producers, and to shop in a sociable and human-scale environment.

What we didn’t realise before was that this is part of an international movement.  Here’s a quotation from The Food Assembly‘s website:

The Food Assembly’s vision is to create a better way to eat, where everyone has access to the pleasure of local food, and is connected to the people who make it. 

Community is at the heart of The Food Assembly – we connect neighbours to farmers, neighbours to each other, and everyone to their food. 

Starting in France, and now a movement across Europe, we believe in value-led innovation and are constantly seeking to sharpen our tool that connects people to local food producers. 

Bringing power back to producers and consumers, our vision is a world with shorter supply chains where people connect to their food in a better way. By combining technology and sustainable agriculture, our vision is to support a healthier world where everyone can thrive. 

Popping over 50 km. there and back to Harrogate on Thursdays won’t be easy.  We plan to get a little posse together who’d enjoy this way of shopping too.  We think it’s worth a bit of an effort to be part of something as exciting as this.

Snapshot Sunday: the Rhine and the Mosel

I promised you a rest from my eternal blogging from Germany. But this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ‘Liquid’, and today, on our way home to England, we have journeyed a short way along the Rhine, watching barges and cruise ships ploughing their way from points between Basel in Switzerland, via the Lichtenstein, Austrian and French borders, through Germany and the Netherlands to the North Sea.

We looked for castles, craggy rock formations, vertiginous vineyards, and generally enjoyed the rich and varied life of this vast and lengthy waterway.

Tonight, our bedroom overlooks the hardly less interesting Mosel. I thought a couple of snapshots from each of these liquid thoroughfares was the least I could offer.

Give us this day our daily bread

Bread is important in Germany. Eating it has been almost the best part of our holiday.

Some is dense, dark, leather-brown, and perfect to accompany slices of ham, bierwurst or cheese. There’s chewy sourdough, perhaps flavoured with caraway or cumin. Even white bread is characterful and tasty.

We’ve fallen for our local bakery. It’s where we go every day for breakfast. Look what 1.80€ buys us. The bread is still warm from the oven, there’s plenty of butter, and the jam home-made. And they serve coffee too.

Every weekday, the bakery opens at 5.30 a.m. and closes at 6.00 p.m., and it’s busy at the weekend too. This morning they were queuing outside the door, buying bread and cakes for the Whitsuntide weekend.

Tomorrow is our last day. We’ll be back in England by Tuesday morning. Normal service again.

Little Switzerland in Germany

Our time in Germany was billed as a walking holiday with added culture. It’s turned out to be a cultural holiday with added walking. Which is perfectly fine. Just let me show you a couple of shots from our walk today, in an area known as Little Switzerland. Hilly, forested, with flower-strewn meadows, and birdsong, always birdsong, this is easy, relaxing walking country.


The north-east of the city of Bamberg is known as Gārtenstadt – Garden City – as it has been since the Middle Ages. Now, as then, market gardening rules supreme.

Since 1386, these gardeners have supplied the citizens of Bamberg and beyond with fresh produce: they were the biggest craft guild in town. Then they supplied root vegetables, onions and liquorice – and milk too from the cows who also pulled wagons and ploughs. These days the growers sell more flowers or herbs.

Look at this map. It clearly shows acres of land hidden behind the long narrow streets.

Here is a typical house. That wide entrance door is to allow wagons to drive through the house and into the garden. The barn is in the attic.

Here’s a market gardening business advertising its wares.

And here’s the Grüner Markt in the city centre. These days it’s no longer the exclusive market place for the Gärtnerstadt. But it is still a busy fruit and veg. market.

Isn’t that pretty special?

Postcards from Bamberg

We’ve fallen for Bamberg, a city so steeped in history that it’s a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Area. The River Regnitz flows in two branches through the town, dividing the city into three and forming much of its character. It’s busy, but not besieged by tourists. Here are four postcards from Bamberg.

The Old Town Hall. Denied any building land by the Bishop of Bamberg, the citizens created an island in the river to build their town hall at the end of the 1300s.

The Cathedral, consecrated in 1237 is the third on the site. The first two burnt down.

Tillman Riemenschneider, the sculptor and woodcarver who died in 1531 has works in many of the churches we’ve visited. Here’s a detail from Heinrich II’s tomb in the Cathedral.

These were once fishermen’s cottages. No fishermen now.

‘There is a green hill far away …’*

Franconia is full of green hills. It’s also full of charming small mediaeval towns girdled with tall mediaeval defensive walls.

With the need for defence long gone, this house in Dettelheim has been built on the remnants of a redundant mediaeval watch tower.

*An allusion to the popular English Victorian hymnThere is a green hill far away/Without a city wall