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Dine out on Devon’s Harvest

Kath Hope embraces the new season’s produce

Harvest festivals are a centuries-old British tradition, and in these coronavirus times, this year we will have even more to celebrate than usual. We might not all be gathering to sing harvest songs, and marvel at enormous marrows and misshapen carrots, but I think we feel grateful that, in spite of all that has happened this year, we have been and continue to be able to enjoy some fabulous produce in Devon.

There will be an increase in the amount of home-grown produce that features in this year’s celebrations, as more of us have ventured into our gardens to keep our minds and bodies occupied. Hopefully, this rise in amateur gardening will have the long-term effect of engendering an even greater appreciation for the value of local, seasonal produce.

Even the most green-fingered among us can’t rely solely on their own garden for sustenance, but that is of little concern in bountiful Devon, where we have some of the best producers, farm shops, delis and local delivery services around. During the pandemic, local producers have demonstrated that they will do their utmost to keep us well stocked with goodies from the county.

You can’t get too far into autumn without spotting a happy orange pumpkin field! This year, we've grown pumpkins in our veg patch for the first time and, since the summer, they have rapidly crept out of the allotted bed, across the lawn. Each fruit could feed a small army for a week but, with a bit of research and a lot of experimenting, we have discovered plenty of dishes that range from the traditional autumnal soup, to the surprisingly delicious pumpkin pancakes.

The apple has to be one of the most versatile of fruits. They make a great drink, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and can be cooked in so many sweet and savoury ways. They are full of vitamins, high in fibre and low in calories. Some studies suggest that they can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

For those who, like me, love shellfish, you will also welcome the start of mussel season. We are lucky to live somewhere with a truly local seafood supply. Heading inland, another autumnal favourite of mine is venison and again this low-fat, sustainable meat is available on our doorstep.

We are spoilt for choice with an outstanding array of producers in our county. If we want to keep it that way, now is the time to support them by buying produce from local farmers, farm shops and delis, and enjoying their wares at local restaurants, cafés and bars. This autumn, do your bit for the local economy by dining out on Devon’s harvest.

As part of an ongoing media partnership with Taste Buds, this is a series of articles written by Food Drink Devon.