Hyde Park pulls out of farming showcase

A major farming festival planned for central London is looking for another venue after Hyde Park pulled out of the event.

Organisers behind the Farming In The Park bonanza aimed to attract more than one million visitors to Hyde Park during May 2014.

But the Royal Parks authorities now say Hyde Park is no longer available for the event, which would showcase the best of British agriculture.

Essex farmer Guy Smith, one of the directors of the Farming In The Park event, said it was a case of “back to the drawing board” in terms of finding a venue.

“Not a good day,” Mr Smith wrote on Twitter. “Royal Parks have changed their minds about the availability of Hyde Park for Farming in the Park.”

Mr Smith said he had considered Battersea Park as an alternative venue, but it lacked open spaces. Clapham Common was the best bet, he suggested, but it lacked the “iconic-ness” of Hyde Park.

“We are looking at other venues for 2014,” Mr Smith said. “Thanks for the support. Keep the faith.”

Some 100 food and farming representatives – including the Duke of Edinburgh – attended the official launch of Farming in the Park at St James Palace last year.

Prince Philip was patron of a similar Festival of Food and Farming in 1989, which drew over one million visitors to Hyde Park.

Organisers hope to repeat the success of the 1989 festival – and had already rescheduled the event from autumn 2013 so it fitted in with Hyde Park availability.

Writing in a brochure to publicise the event, Prince Philip said Britain’s largely urban population meant there was every reason to show people how their food was produced.

“Just 3% of the working population produce about 80% of the food consumed by the whole population of this country,” he said.

“The last time the Festival of Food and Farming was organised in London was in 1989 and it was a huge success.

“Now, over 20 years later, it would seem about time to repeat such a venture for the benefit of a whole new generation of urban consumers.”

The event would see farmers and niche food producers from across the UK host hundreds of stands and exhibits highlighting tastes and the talents of the countryside.

Grand Ring displays and central exhibits would include cutting-edge farming technology – including tractors and machinery – and livestock.

Johann Tasker on G+

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