It’s time for the food festival to hit the city this weekend with an event which shows off all aspects of the industry, as Victoria Leggett reports.

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Freshly-squeezed apple juice from a Norfolk orchard, oils overseen on their journey from the field to the bottle, tasty conserves using berries picked from the producer’s own farm – and even a real life cow.

The sights, sounds and tastes of the countryside will be brought to the city this weekend as the Norfolk producers’ market and the City Farm return to the Forum once again.

And, with more than 30 stalls jostling for attention alongside the Battle of the Bangers, organisers hope it will prove to be one of the most popular events of the 2012 Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.

The producers’ market will take over both the inside of the Forum as well as outside on Millennium Plain from 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday.

Organiser Jane Miller, of Produced in Norfolk, and a board member of the EDP Adnams Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, in association with Norfolk County Council, says: “It’s a very fine selection of Norfolk food and drink. It’s a really good cross section of the industry covering everything from apple juice and beer to yoghurt, gluten-free cakes and meats.”

Many of the regular producers who have taken part in the city’s main festival event over the past few years will return, and Jane has been careful to choose only the best representatives of Norfolk food and drink.

“I was looking for people who had a lot of input into what they make,” she says. “A lot of them see the whole process through – they will grow the rapeseed, harvest it and crush it all themselves. The apple juice people grow their own apples, crush them and make it into juice themselves.”

As well as being keen to sell their wares and send people off with a basket full of food to create a week of delicious family meals, the producers will also be keen to talk to people about what they do.

“They’re all very friendly and very able to talk knowledgably about their food and drink and how to use it to the best advantage. They’re very happy to talk about it, how to prepare it and how to enjoy it.”

Returning to its central position at the Forum after moving to the Castle Gardens for the festival last year, Jane believes the market will be as popular as ever.

Thousands of people are expected to pass through the festival during the day, drawn in by not only the market but also the popular Battle of the Bangers which will coincide with the event.

Equally popular is set to be Norfolk Young Farmers’ City Farm, which will make the first of its two appearances this weekend at the Forum.

Organiser Ches Broom, rural business centre and Norfolk Young Farmers’ Clubs manager, says the event will aim to raise awareness as well as entertain.

Visitors to the Forum will be able to try their hand at milking a cow using the YFC’s wooden cow, look at some of the big machinery on show, watch milking demonstrations and meet Jelly the Jersey and Holly the Holstein.

Between 30 and 40 of Norfolk’s young farmers will be available throughout the day to talk to people about careers in agriculture and the issues facing the dairy industry and the need for a fair price for milk.

Ches says bringing the farmers and their animals into the city can be very important when it comes to educating people about agriculture.

“It’s surprising how many people still haven’t got close to a live farm animal before,” she says. It’s amazing some of the things we get asked when we do these events.

“They don’t realise the udders are where the milk comes from, or they will ask: ‘do they eat meat’?”

The City Farm will be at the Festival in the City at The Forum on Saturday from 9am to 4pm and at the Taste the Best of Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at the Norfolk Showground on Sunday from 11am to 4pm.

To head back to our Norfolk Food Festival 2012 page, see the link at the top-right of this page.

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