Focus on vegetables

The Newbury and District Agricultural Society are on a mission - and having great success - in converting teenagers to loving vegetables!

The Society run a Cookery School, which is one of many projects organised by Jan Murray, the Education Officer and involves practical sessions in mainstream and special schools across Berkshire using in-season, locally sourced vegetables.

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This term, Jan has been using root vegetables, nothing fancy, just onions, carrots, parsnips, leeks and swede. (The one exception was when freshly dug organic and rather muddy swede turned out to be beetroot!). Mixed vegetable soup and roasted vegetables with marinated chicken has been on the menu this year, and students usually look rather horrified when Jan briefs them on what they are working with and that they have to taste the finished dish. Taking a mouthful is quite a hurdle to overcome too - spoons poised half in the mouth, reluctant to go any further! But every time they are utterly amazed at how good the flavour is and often the challenge is to stop them eating the whole lot there and then! One young man was so excited he wanted to phone his mum to tell her his supper was sorted!

Jan works with just nine schools at present so it is a small audience but reaping big results!