Derbyshire and the Peak District Local Food Produce.

Mention food and Derbyshire or the Peak District and one of the first things that springs to mind is the renowned Bakewell Pudding or maybe Stilton from Hartington, Buxton water or even Ashbourne gingerbread. But the region is a primarily farming area (characterised by grasslands divided by hedgerows and trees) so there are many other local food products available including processed food such as Derbyshire jams and chutneys. Indeed, many local hotels, pubs, restaurants and bed and breakfasts take a pride in serving up locally produced food - great for the environment as well as the taste buds. But the Peak District and Derbyshire is far from parochial, there are plenty of other food and drink products on the market from Green tea to exotic spices.

So, lets start our exploration in the south of the county of Derbyshire. The very south is part of the National Forest and so some areas have been planted with trees. The farming is mixed with market gardening (primarily around Melbourne) plus dairy, beef and fruit farming. The nature of the grasslands of South Derbyshire makes it eminently suitable for dairy farming and some of the country's larger dairy herds can be found here. The movement to supply local food to local people is gaining in popularity and farms such as Scaddow aim to supply just that, offering a range of produce from south Derbyshire and Leicestershire to their visitors from their farm shop and 'pick your own' service for strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants and asparagus.

Further north in the county, in the area west of Derby stretching to Sudbury and Ashbourne in the west, lies the area termed the Needwood and South Derbyshire claylands. Basically, this is an area of glacial clay, possibly derived from a layer of marl that existed prior to the ice ages. As the ice sheets moved southwards, they scraped off the marl and dumped it on the lower lying areas bounding the Peak District to the south. This is a varied area ranging from plateau, through escarpment and including riverside meadowland. The farm produce here, as in the very south of Derbyshire, is predominantly Dairy. The area has been settled since Saxon times and was partitioned off as Royal Hunting Forests after the Normans made their successful conquest of Britain. During the middle ages, the region was more densely settled, as evidenced by a number of DMVs (Deserted Medieval Villages) and there is a lot of surviving ridge and furrow - notably at Tissington, a short distance north of Ashbourne. The enclosure acts of the 17th century essentially created the field patterns seen today. Some of the earliest of the Derbyshire breweries started up in this part of the county, such as the Leatherbritches Brewery at Fenny Bentley, near Ashbourne.


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