Case Study: Little Maplestead Church
Little Maplestead is a village in North Essex with a population of around 270 residents. The only public building in the village is the village church,
which itself is distant from much of the housing. This church, which is one of the four remaining round churches in England still has services
three weeks a month but only has a small regular congregation. To help raise money for the work of the church a Flower Festival is held every other
year. After a successful Festival in 2016 the theme for 2018 was chosen as “God’s Bountiful Harvest”, in order to celebrate the crops grown by
local farmers, and a date set for the last weekend in September.
As the date approached we became aware of two things. The first was that Essex Ploughing Match for 2018 was to be held in the fields opposite the church
and also that the Flower Festival fell in British Food Fortnight. This strengthened our aim of celebrating British Food through both events.
The preparation for the Flower Festival, and it’s running brought together over 70 people and businesses from the local community and nearly 500 people
attended the festival, coming from a wide area. To add to our celebration of local food we invited number of local producers to attend, to sell
items, and all four agreed to come representing: a local farm shop (with local produce), a butcher, a jam / relish manufacturer, and a gin producer.
All of whom are based within 5 miles of the church.
All our pre-event publicity mentioned “Love British Food” and/or British Food Fortnight. We received a number of mentions on local radio prior to the
event, including three pre-recorded interviews, We also used Twitter to publicise the event reaching around 4,000 people through retweets etc..
Post the event the event had a full page spread in one of the local newspapers as well as the NFU Magazine. Also on the Sunday we were visited
by the local BBC radio station’s treasure hunt which gave us additional publicity.
However, the reach of the event was not confined to Little Maplestead. During our preparations we discovered that the National Harvest Torch would
be in Chelmsford Cathedral that weekend. As part of both their celebrations
and ours we arranged for the torch to be present thought-out the Saturday. This allowed us to discussed British Food Fortnight with many people.
At the end of the Saturday the torch was taken from Little Maplestead Church along with three boxes of local produce that had been prepared
by our local church schools. These boxes were then part of the offering at the Cathedral service on the Sunday. The final part of the story
was that some of the produce used in the flower arrangements were taken to the local Heritage Railway where they were used during talks given
about farming in Victorian times.
Although the Flower Festival was not planned as part of British Food Fortnight we were very pleased to be able to add that element to the event
and promote local produce and producers in what we believe was a unique way.
Key Facts about the 2018 Little Maplestead Flower Festival:
- Little Maplestead is a community of around 270 people.
- Over 25 people involved in arranging over 20 Floral celebrations of local food.
- An additional 20 people involved in other aspects of the weekend.
- 28 local firms involved though sponsorship and other assistance.
- 400+ visitors enabling the church to raise over £3000
- Around 25 minutes of air-time in local radio.
- Post event pictures on the event were shared through Flickr
- Four local food producers present to sell.
o Farm produce
o Gin and Tonic
o Jam and Relishes
- Local Produce represented in displays
o Apples & Pears
o Cherries, Rhubarb & Beetroot
o Green Vegetables
o Jam / preserves
o Oil Seed Rape
o Soft Fruit
o Sugar Beet
o Sweet Corn