middlesbroughTHE countdown is under way to one the highlights of the Middlesbrough calendar – the 2016 Town Meal.

This year’s community feast takes place on Saturday, September 10 from noon to 4pm in Centre Square – and everyone’s invited!

The popular get-together is a celebration of all the fabulous growing projects that have been ongoing this year, supported by local charity Middlesbrough Environment City.

Community groups and individual families have been reaping the rewards of growing their own fruit and vegetables in various locations across the town.

Donations of this produce go towards the fabulous meal which is shared and enjoyed by all involved.

Growers are invited to retain their best specimens to enter into the produce competition.

The competition is open to anyone and includes categories for a cake containing a vegetable and jams, chutneys and pickles.

As well as the meal itself there will be chef demonstrations, the Bilsdale Silver Band will provide musical entertainment throughout the afternoon along with children from Captain Cook’s and Hemlington Hall’s school choirs.

And for those looking for a nostalgic trip back in town, there will be a 1976 double decker bus ride to North Ormesby and the Transporter Bridge.

The Fire Brigade will give their chip pan fire demonstration and the St John Ambulance will bring an ambulance to Centre Square, while free children’s entertainment will include pony rides, bouncy castles, Punch and Judy, KMX Karts and a boxing ring.

The Town Meal is also a great chance to find out how to get involved in some of Middlesbrough’s great One Planet Middlesbrough sustainable living activities and opportunities.

Last year’s event was entered into the Love British Food Harvest Heroes competition, and landing a very creditable Highly Commended runner-up.

Judge and legendary chef Raymond Blanc said: “This is certainly a great way to involve all the community, what a great event.

“I love that so many people have played their part – growing and sharing from their allotments, offering their local produce with their neighbours.”

Councillor Julia Rostron, Chair of Middlesbrough Environment City, said: “The Town Meal is one of the high points of the year, with the emphasis firmly on great, healthy and above all home-grown food for all.

“It’s a showcase of all that’s great about Middlesbrough, and every year more and more people are getting involved with allotments and local growing projects, with the help of Middlesbrough Environment City.

“As ever it’s open to all, and I look forward to seeing another great turn-out for this year’s event.”

The Town Meal is part of an annual programme of food growing and healthy eating activities delivered as part of Middlesbrough’s Food Plan, led by Middlesbrough Environment City. Each year MEC works with more than 50 groups on community growing and healthy eating initiatives across Middlesbrough.

All local growers, whether from community gardens, allotments or private growers are being invited to donate any surplus produce if they would like to be involved with this great community event.

Donations of fruit and vegetables can be taken to Town Farm Allotments on Thursday, September 8 or Friday, September 9, dropped at the Cycle Centre in the Bus Station or brought to the Middlesbrough Environment City office at Sandy Flatts (formerly Nature’s World), and arrangements can be made to collect the produce which will then be cooked as part of the free Town Meal.

For more information please call Middlesbrough Environment City on 01642 579820 or visit our web site www.menvcity.org.uk