Audience for a demo
Boxes of fruit and vegetables
Pumpkins growing
Hands with seeds
Apple chopping on the Reading Food Growing Network stand
Apples ready for juicing
Cooking demo with Paul Clerehugh

History of Reading Town Meal


Reading Town Meal was first held in 2011, on a gloriously sunny October day. There's a short video of the event, kindly filmed and edited by Team TV and you can see some of the photos on our Facebook page. Read more about the 2011 Reading Town Meal.


The Town Meal was back in 2013, another sunny day. A more serious side to the Town Meal took place at the Town Meal Debate. Town Meal organisers and the University brought together an expert panel to debate "Should Our Food be Cheaper?" Read more about the 2013 Town Meal Debate.


There was glorious sunshine as 1,000 local people tucked in to 2015's Town Meal cooked as always by Reading College students from the fresh ingredients grown by gardeners, allotment holders and local food producers. On the 2015 menu was a roasted veg salad, followed by an 'allotment stroganoff' and finally a delicious fruit crumble. The home-grown feast was served up to the accompaniment of local bands: Dolly and the Clothes Pegs, Musikissmo, Bruce Neil, Jewels and some very talented students from Reading College. New for 2015 there was the chance to get top tips from experts at a selection of workshops ranging from making mead to creating your own wormery. There was also a market place of community groups and local food stalls and lots of fun activities for children of all ages.


Inspite of the bad weather in the morning, 2016 turned out to be another great Reading Town Meal. Eventually the sun came out, music played, food was enjoyed and fun was had! For the fourth year in a row, the centrepiece of the event was a hot meal made from fruit and vegetables grown in Reading gardens and allotments, cooked by Reading College catering students. This year's menu included allotment ragout with salad and the Reading town crumble. It wasn't just about great food, there was a family activity area with entertainment including a circus skills workshop, painting corner, face painting and a vegetable hunt. For adults looking to get stuck in to learning something new, Reading Beekeepers, Thames Valley Wine School and the Reading Food Growing Network all hosted workshops.


Although the sky was sometimes threatening, it was much better weather than the previous year and another enjoyable Reading Town Meal. The menu featured allotment tagine with salad, served with a tasty bread, and the Reading Town crumble, which this time included lots of berries and currants that had been frozen earlier in the summer. Workshop sessions included herb propagation, seed saving and bee keeping.


A sunny day and another busy Town Meal. The menu was Roasted Vegetable Allotment Ragout with salad and bread followed by Fruit Compote with granola topping. There were lots of community stalls, and there were workshops on permaculture, clean air and food storage and preservation.


The food menu this year was a delicious Reading Hot Pot served with salad and focaccia bread, followed by fruit compote with crumble topping. There were stalls from a selection of Reading community organisations, particularly those with an interest in food growing and green issues, including food4families and Berkshire Greenpeace. EIT offered fun and educational games including virtual reality experiences, which were very popular and there were workshops on climate change, food waste and food controversies.


Reading Town Meal 2020 was, as with most things in 2020, far from usual but it went ahead in a socially-distanced format. Local residents were encouraged to take part in the annual celebration of locally grown and healthy food from their own homes with recipe cards, online workshops, quizzes and other fun activities. During the week leading up to the meal four live online workshops attracted really good numbers for topics including: How to tackle food waste; Eating meat: is less and better the way forward?; and the local climate change strategy. On the day all the individual households were linked together through amazing RG2 local radio station, who broadcast live from Reading College. The Mayor of Reading, Cllr David Stevens opened the show with a warm welcome to everyone. The program was jammed packed and included segments from all the workshops and 3 cook-alongs, interviews with students from Reading College who were onsite cooking recipes they had developed themselves, as well as households taking part at home and of course the great Town Meal quiz.

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