This short film summarises the What’s on Your Plate – The Food that Makes Our Community project, a National Lottery Heritage Fund project led by the West Exe Nursery School and supported by the HAP team. It’s a great summary of a small, intergenerational community project which ran over 2019.
The project involved working with the St. Thomas community in Exeter, bringing people together to explore their history through the food they have made, eaten, enjoyed and shared. Children from the West Exe Nursery School visited Age UK to allow the youngest members in the community to learn about their food heritage from the oldest members of society.
“Through the project we’ve actually got to know people. We’ve built real relationships, meaningful relationships with different people. One of the biggest things from that is the sense of wellbeing it’s brought for us, for all the children, for the staff because it’s very exciting, something different. And for the old people, they’ve really enjoyed it, so I think that’s a huge outcome.” Katharine Pringle, Nursery Lead Teacher
Whats On Your Plate from RA Projects on Vimeo.
The What’s on Your Plate community recipe book for West Exe Nursery School has now been printed and looks fantastic! It’s packed full of recipes rich in flavour and heritage, all contributions from the local community. It’s a true celebration of the diverse food cultures that make up the community of St. Thomas, Exeter. Some of the recipes were written down in Food Memory Notebooks which were left in cafes and community centres for people to write down their favourite recipes in.
The recipe book is the culmination of the What’s on Your Plate – The Food that Makes Our Community project, a National Lottery Heritage Fund project led by the West Exe Nursery School and supported by the HAP team. The project involved working with the St. Thomas community in Exeter, bringing people together to explore their history through the food they have made, eaten, enjoyed and shared. Children from the West Exe Nursery School visited Age UK to allow the youngest members in the community to learn about their food heritage from the oldest members of society.
Volunteers also recorded oral histories from a diverse mix of people from the local community. Here’s some extracts from Betty, born in 1929, whose recipe for junket is in the recipe book:
“On Sundays we had breast of lamb – Mum would trim off the fat, make some stuffing, roll it up and bake it. Every now and then when we had an extra bit of money we could buy a piece of beef.”
“Always horse and carts – our baker used to come in with the horse and cart bringing fresh bread every day.”
“I look back on my childhood and think I didn’t go without because we didn’t have the things they have today.”
Betty’s recording and all of the other recordings for the What’s on Your Plate project will be archived at the Devon Heritage Centre.
Collecting oral histories is an exciting and important part of the What’s On Your Plate? The Food That Makes Our Community project. It was therefore great to be part of an informative and engaging workshop at West Exe Nursery School led by Kaleigh Milden which provided training and guidance on how to collect oral histories.
During the workshop we learnt about what oral history really is and the potential it has as a resource. The Oral History Society website has succinctly summarised the value of oral history as:
- A living history of everyone’s unique life experiences
- An opportunity for those people who have been ‘hidden from history’ to have their voice heard
- A rare chance to talk about and record history face-to-face
- A source of new insights and perspectives that may challenge our view of the past.
During the oral history training session, we began to develop the key questions we will be asking when collecting the oral histories and what we really wanted to focus on during the project. We generated a lot of ideas!
Thanks to Kayleigh Milden and all the volunteers who joined us for the morning. We are all really looking forward to talking to members of the St Thomas community in Exeter and recording their memories of food. If you would like any further information or would like to be involved in the What’s On Your Plate? The Food That Makes Our Community project please feel free to contact us.
It was lovely to be invited along to the St Thomas Library on Sunday for the 5th Local History Day, introducing people to the ‘What’s on Your Plate’ project. This new National Lottery Heritage Fund project is being led by the West Exe Nursery School and HAP were asking local history day visitors to share their childhood memories of food.
As well as collecting memories of post war meals such as Bubble and Squeak and more modern family favourites such as pizza, we had some recipe input from Khaled, who grew up in Syria and met the former owner of Okehampton Road Fish and Chip shop, whose family ran the shop for over 70 years.
Okehampton Road Fish and Chip Shop Former Owner showing the old Family Delivery Van
Younger visitors enjoyed drawing pictures of what they like to eat.
What’s On Your Plate Drawings
It was a really enjoyable day and it was great to see the library bustling with people interested in finding out more about their local history.