Posted 18 June 2012 by Andrew Gardner
We've had the sort weather that makes getting out on the allotment seem worthwhile. Wet weather often feels much better when you go out and do something than when you just look out of the window, but working on the allotment is an exception: you just sink into the ground, although the weight of all the Sussex Weald clay on your boots probably does wonders for muscle tone. Still, I'm pleased to say that my attempt at boosting Sussex produce is now well and truly under way.
But it's a drop in the ocean compared to many people, and you only have to visit one of this county's fabulous farmers' markets, or the little independent Sussex farm shops dotted around, for proof of that. From artisan bread, fresh fruit and vegetables and locally-reared meat to deservedly popular cooking alternatives such as rapeseed oil, Sussex has so much to offer that you'll never go hungry in your self-catering cottage.
Sussex is full of historic market towns (spot those evocative brown signs as you drive in!) which have kept up their tradition by holding regular farmers' markets, while you'll often find local produce on sale in village shops.
There are many food-themed events, too, and our South Downs cottages are ideally placed for visitors to explore them. West Dean Gardens, near Chichester, will be holding a Mediterranean-themed festival over the weekend of 23-24 June to highlight the culture, cuisine and spirit of the Med. Live music and dance will provide a lively backdrop for all the food demonstrations and tastings, plus gardening tips, talks and walks within the fascinating walled garden, where over 40 different crops thrive.
The same weekend also sees the Petworth Food Festival, in the grounds of historic Petworth House, celebrating food and drink from the Sussex area and beyond. There'll be arts and crafts stalls plus cookery demos and tasting sessions, and of course it's the ideal opportunity to wander round the house with its unique art collection and its stunning parkland.