National Parks that taste as good as they look

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss MP has joined with National Parks England1 and a host of local food heroes to celebrate the top quality food and drink produced in our finest landscapes.

If you think of England’s ten National Parks their breathtaking scenery, from the high fells of the Lake District to the tranquil waters of The Broads, will be the first thing that springs to mind.

But increasingly, visitors to National Parks are also coming to sample the delicious produce farmed and grown in these beautiful landscapes. In fact food is the most important draw, after landscape, for 60% of visitors to the South Downs National Park.

It makes sense that where the natural environment is being conserved and high environmental standards applied by farmers, the local produce will be all the more special. This is reflected throughout the National Parks, from the high quality beef reared in the Broads and the famous Colman’s mustard, to the clean and pure rivers of Exmoor which make it the ideal location for the UK’s only caviar farm.

  • Over one third of England’s protected foods are produced within the National Parks2.
  • Since 2010, the number of protected foods in the UK has increased from 40 to 64.
  • The Broads is home to the only restaurant – the Lavender House in Brundall – to have achieved a perfect 100% score by Visit England Quality in Tourism assessors.

There is a real appetite for foodie tourism in the National Parks, and entrepreneurial businesses are increasingly offering food tours and experiences, cookery courses and fine dining. National Parks are home to six Michelin-starred restaurants and the only restaurant – the Lavender House in the Broads – to have achieved a perfect 100% Quality in Tourism rating.

And National Park visitors won’t have to look far for local drinks either: there are plenty of speciality ales to be sampled in the parks including Flagondry, brewed by Woodforde’s to celebrate the Broads Authority’s 25th anniversary , while South Downs vineyards produce award-winning sparkling wines.

Food tourism provides a real economic boost that is much-needed in these rural areas. In the Peak District National Park every £10 spent on locally-produced food results in over £25 being re-invested in the local economy; and commercial farms across the National Parks employ some 17,300 people. National Park Authorities have been supporting local producers through schemes such as the New Forest Marque, which promotes sustainable produce made from local ingredients.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss said during a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery in the Yorkshire Dales National Park:

“There is a great resurgence of pride in the UK about our unique heritage of local food and drink and nowhere is that truer than in our National Parks which are teeming with top quality produce.

By legally protecting these foods we can bring greater investment and jobs to local communities and boost tourism for people drawn to the area by the opportunity to enjoy world class food in some of the most stunning landscapes the world has to offer.”

Chair of National Parks England, of the North York Moors National Park Authority, and a farmer, Jim Bailey said:

“What National Parks offer in terms of food and drink is something really special. It’s not a mass-produced commodity, it’s a quality experience that is locally distinctive in the same way that our landscapes are. Visitors to National Parks are drawn by the cultural heritage and warm welcome on offer, and food and drink are a vital part of that.”

Bruce Hanson, Tourism and Promotion Officer for the Broads Authority, said: “The quality of food and drink on offer in the Broads is an incredibly important draw to visitors and we are delighted to be part of the Taste National Parks celebration.”

Managing Director of award winning The Wensleydale Creamery, David Hartley added:

“We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to the Wensleydale Creamery to acknowledge the important role that rural food producers, like ourselves, play in promoting food tourism, boosting the local economy, providing jobs to rural communities and supporting the sustainability of farming locally.

“With a heritage that spans centuries, handcrafted food production in the Yorkshire Dales is at the heart of everything we do. We source milk from over 40 local family farms to help ensure the quality and authenticity of our cheese, contributing more than £10 million to the local Dales’ economy. We’re very proud that our Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese has been recognised with European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.”

Notes

1. National Parks England is the umbrella organisation that brings together the nine National Park Authorities (NPAs) and the Broads Authority. It exists to support policy and practice by providing a collective voice for the views of the English NPAs; raising the profile of their work; facilitating discussion on issues of common concern; and working in partnership with other bodies. For more information see:  www.nationalparksengland.org.uk Twitter: @natparksengland

2. Protected Foods are designated under EU legislation and aim to protect the reputation of regional
products and promote traditional agricultural activity. Products can be designated as "protected designation of origin" (PDO) or "protected geographical indication" (PGI). The UK has a total of 65 products with protected status. Of the Protected Foods specific to England, over one third of them are produced within the English National Parks.

Some examples of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) include: Lakeland Herdwick, Dovedale Blue, and Swaledale Cheese.

Some examples of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) include: West Country Beef, Exmoor Jersey Blue Cheese, Traditional Cumberland Sausage, Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese, and English wine.

Contacts for further information:

Paul Hamblin – Executive Director (w) 020 7072 7421 (m) 07968 760 854
National Parks England
paul.hamblin@nationalparksengland.org.uk

Meriel Harrison – Policy and Research Officer (w) 020 7072 7421
National Parks England
Meriel.harrison@nationalparksengland.org.uk

Lorna Marsh - Broads Authority 01603 756040

Monday 26 October 2015