Today is Terra Madre Day and Slow Food is celebrating its 20th anniversary with over 1,000 events in 120 countries. Here in Cumbria we are celebrating with a lunch at the Mason’s Arms, Strawberry Bank, and a walk exploring the Damson orchards of the Lyth Valley. 70 years ago most of the farms in the Lyth valley specialised in damson production and 250 tons were produced. Now the crop is down to barely 20 tons and Slow Food are supporting the Westmorland Damson Association in encouraging farms to re-plant their orchards. Our local fruit is unique, smaller and tastier than other damsons and the conditions here are perfect for its cultivation. There is an orchard at the Damson Dene Hotel and on 29th August this year four of us picked 46 kilos of fruit in an hour. Pictured are Steve and Vicky Dickinson, Peter Jackson (our Chairman) and Mark Richards on the Damson trail, and a basket with some of our August haul, now made into jam. For those Slow Life adherents who don’t have their own damson tree- the hedgerows in the Lyth valley are full of wild damson trees, whose fruit is not only free, but is often left unpicked.
Slow Food – http://www.slowfood.org.uk
Westmorland Damson Association – http://www.lythdamsons.org.uk/