Forth Valley Food Festival (12–21 October) kicks off this weekend, celebrating the best of the local larder.

The festival will highlight over 20 of the regions local food producers and providers, from Arnprior Pumpkins to Stirling’s new online food market, NeighbourFood.

There’ll also be a programme of local food activities and farm experiences for the whole family get involved in during the school October break, from picking your own pumpkins to farm tours.

The event is supported by Stirling Council and Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER, amongst other partners.

Local Food and Drink Co-ordinator, Ashley Robinson said: “The aim of the festival is to shine a spotlight on the people who grow and rear our local food, and the places that serve and sell local produce. Forth Valley’s larder is bursting with fantastic local food and drink. We want to help local people discover the exceptional array of produce available on their doorstep and learn more about how their food is grown, reared and created.”

Ashley added: “We hope the festival will be the start of something much bigger. We’d love to see a series of food events, food trails and farm tours throughout the coming year to encourage local people to explore our flourishing local food landscape. If you’re interested in taking part as a producer or participant please get in touch with us at Forth Valley and Lomond Leader.”

As part of the festival programme, Gartur Stitch Farm, Port of Menteith will be running farm tours. Owners Kat Goldin and Kevin Harrison described what locals can expect on their visit: “We’ll greet you with a homemade pastry or sourdough bread all made here in the farm kitchen, from local ingredients mostly grown or foraged here on the farm. Then we’ll head out to the barn, where you’ll learn how to hand milk our dairy goat, Dascha. You’ll also get the chance to hand feed our flock of Soay sheep. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a cuddle from our two smallest sheep – Hamish and Angus, twin lambs born in May this year. After feeding the sheep, we’ll head to the chicken coops where you can collect eggs from our small flock of chickens. Our rule is, if you collect it, you keep it, so you will get to take any eggs you find home with you!”

The full festival line-up includes:

  • 12 – 21 October, Arnprior Pumpkins, 8.30am – 5.30pm – pick your own pumpkin, get lost in the kale maze and climb bale mountain. Pumpkins from £5. Pre-booking required.
  • 13 October, Stirling Farmer’s Market, 10am-4pm – try and buy local produce from Ochil Fudge to freshly baked bread from Riverside Bakery.
  • 15 – 21 October, 11am and 2.30pm, Meet the Goats and the other animals at Gartur Stitch Farm, Port of Menteith. Online booking required. Adults £15. Children under 12 are free.
  • 16 October, University of Stirling Students’ Union, 7pm – 9pm. Enjoy a film screening of farming documentary In Our Hands. Throughout the week there will also be opportunities to buy local food from the Food Hive co-op and take part in garden tours.
  • 18 October, Stirling NeighbourFood, Stirling High School, 4.30-6.30pm – the city’s new online ‘click and collect’ local food market run by Forth Environment Link. Order local produce from eggs and yogurt to cheese and preserves by Tuesday 16 October for pick up on 18 October.

 For further details search for #ForthValleyFoodFest on social media, new events and producer profiles will be added throughout the festival week.