Tideswell’s active citizens

Created by a group of villagers passionate about sustaining their village economy, Taste Tideswell is a social enterprise running a commercial cookery school, kitchen garden, brewery, and an annual Food Festival. Natasha Stonebridge went to meet them.

Tideswell festival

When the villagers of Tideswell in Derbyshire met to discuss how to keep their village alive, little did they foresee the knock-on effect their project would have for inspiring active citizens within the village and beyond.

At the heart of the project is Tideswell School of Food, which employs 10 members of staff from the village. The school offers up to 20 courses a month on subjects as diverse as Thai cuisine, foraging for food and bread-making. The school has its own nano brewery which brews Taste Tideswell’s commercial beer ‘Ebb and Flow’.

Once an over-grown patch of land, the community kitchen garden has become a place for villagers and visitors to work and socialise. It also supplies Tideswell School of Food and the local older people’s luncheon club with fresh vegetables and herbs.

The garden offers valuable educational opportunities for younger generations. While children are learning about planting, they are also getting a taste of how it feels to be an active citizen and what an active citizen can achieve.

But it is the Tideswell Food festival that demonstrates exactly what can be achieved by active citizens, offering inspiration for its 6,000 visitors. It’s the volunteers who erect the stands at 6 am, who spend the day marshalling visitors, who provide the entertainment (Tideswell band, Tideswell singers, St John’s Church’s pop up plays) and then, when it is all finished, clear up.

The economic benefit Taste Tideswell has on the village can be identified by new businesses opening and existing businesses thriving. The social benefit – including the “can do” attitude which has been created – can be seen in a variety of ways: the vibrant clubs and activities scene, by the way vacancies on the Parish Council are immediately filled, and by the brand new arts festival starting in September.

Taste Tideswell is proud of its cookery school, its kitchen garden and its food festival. However, it is most proud of the impact it has had on inspiring individuals to become active citizens no matter how small their contribution, and by demonstrating to communities that by getting involved they can achieve anything.

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