Roll out the barrel


Sometimes I have a rather terrible habit of getting carried away with an idea without actually thinking through a) the amount of work involved and b) if I can actually achieve it. I also have a tendency to hear the word “free” (in this case some herb plants and seeds) and not take in many of the other details. Such was the case when I agreed to create a mini edible garden for this weekend’s Newcastle EAT! Festival, which celebrates the region’s food and drink.

When we received the brief and attended a great ‘how to’ workshop all those months ago, June seemed so far off. Naturally, most of the work has been completed in the last few days, but to be fair, if it had been done much before it would have all turned to mush by now.

Despite all my worrying about how we were going to actually pull this off, I’m really proud of the end result, which is due in no small part to the wonderfully talented Lynn Huggins-Cooper, who we are fortunate to have as one of our garden members. As with all great teachers, she very kindly and patiently showed us less gifted but enthusiastic volunteers how to create an edible work of art.


We decided it would be a nice twist to make a treasure island in a whisky barrel as we are the Hop Garden after all, and a lot of whisky and beer barrels ended up on deserted islands when pirates ruled the waves.

Along with the sugar paste characters above, we have sugar paste and Crunchie bar rocks, Flake logs, cinnamon bark trees, a gooseberry jelly, food dye and edible glitter sea, brown sugar sand, and a rather obscure Chinese herbal tea ingredient as driftwood. The jungle is edible too - coriander, nasturtium, runner beans, lemon balm, cress and sage.


So if you’re around in the region this weekend, pop into Grainger Arcade (next to the tourist information office) and see it in the flesh! Unfortunately, the pirate was a little worse for wear after the car journey and is now legless (we’ll put it down to the last dregs in the whiskey barrel). Five minutes under pressure when security is wanting to lock the doors was not enough time to perform the delicate operation required to get him back on his feet again.
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