Ballantrae Festival of Food and Drink goes global with UNESCO Biospheres

The award-winning Ballantrae Festival is widening its virtual reach after 2020’s success, linking up with Norway, Finland and Germany for this year’s event, which takes this weeked.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 6:49 pm
There is plenty of amazing produce being showcased from the southwest of Scotland and now further afield
There is plenty of amazing produce being showcased from the southwest of Scotland and now further afield

Recruited from among European members of the global UNESCO Biosphere network, attendees will include a wild sheep farmer from Norhordland, a wild food forager from North Karelia, and an apple-sherry producer from Rhon.

On Saturday and Sunday, producers will connect with consumers via online markets and a packed timetable of video presentations, discussions on sustainable food tourism provision, and interactive sessions hosted in conjunction with UNESCO Biospheres, The Scottish Food Guide and Slow Food.

The festival is supported by Ballantrae Community Development Trust and last year’s Covid-friendly format saw 7000+ visitors engage online, compared to circa 3000-4000 at previous events.

The organisers hope to build on that breadth of engagement this year with the benefit of additional funding partners and with the support of the Scotland Food and Drink Regional Food Group, whose coordinators have been working with the Ballantrae team since October.

Dr Mhairi Mckenna, of the Ballantrae organising group, said: “We are delighted that the UNESCO Biospheres are supporting this important initiative and bringing a strategic international perspective to our regional event.”

Howard Wilkinson, chairperson of the Ayrshire Food Network, added: “The additional resources which SFAD funding has provided us over the last nine months have enabled us to engage more widely with food tourism businesses throughout the southwest of Scotland.”

Marie McNulty, business development officer at the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, brought the organisation’s international Biosphere contacts on board.

She said: “There are many learning opportunities arising from transnational exchanges, especially in light of the 50th Anniversary of UNESCO's Man & the Biosphere Programme which is all about improving the relationship between people and environment and making our food systems sustainable.”

For further information about the festival visit www.ballantraefoodfest.com