Celebrating Quality Craftsmanship: Insights from the Westmorland Family's Producer Summit
16 May, 2023
If you've ever been to one of the Westmorland Family's Service Stations (Tebay, Gloucester, Rheged or Cairn Lodge) then you've probably re-written everything you thought you could expect from a motorway services.
Last week I had the absolute delight of joining the Westmorland Family's first ever Producer Summit to meet lots of like minded producers, much of the Westmorland team and guest speakers such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
As with all experiences where forward thinking, passionate people come together to discuss meaningful affairs, there are profound insights to be shared. So here they are: Three valuable, thought-provoking messages from the Westmorland Family Producer Summit 2023.
We started the summit in the best way possible, with drinks, a goodie bag of quality, local products and the opportunity to connect with all the other amazing producers attending the summit.
From Cumbrian Honey, Eden Yard Oils, Ginger Bakers and Cumbria Toffee. We all shared one thing in common: a passion for crafting and sourcing only the finest produce.
Once we'd happily mingled, we filed through to the Rheged Cinema for the presentation of ideas, projections and discussions to begin.
Insight 1. Produce sits on a Spectrum
The first take-home message was profoundly clear;
"Produce sits on a spectrum"
Key speaker, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, (with his reputation for uncompromising commitment to seasonal, ethically produced food and his concern for the environment) brought to light this poignant message.
At one end, there are highly processed, untraceable, mass produced products with low craftsmanship and inevitably low quality. The physical, emotional and knowledge-based distance between the consumers and the source of their products is significantly high. The nutritional and holistic value of such produce is inherently low.
On the other end of the spectrum is the direct produce- think literal growing/rearing and preparing of one's own products, completely self sufficiently- 'hunter-gatherer' style. The closest physical and knowledge-based proximity one can get to the source and production methods of the produce. The nutritional and hollistic value of this produce, and the consumers effort to have such produce tends to be high.
Hugh highlighted that people are often quick to brag about spending large sums of money on something like a car, yet it seems many almost boast how little they spend on food. Surely, it should be the other way around- spending money on good quality food is much more of a braggable investment. Especially given its direct impact of the health of our bodies and our planet.
This is not to say that we should all be sat on the far right: growing, harvesting and producing all of our food ourselves- that is just not realistic- but,
"the closer we can get to knowing the origins and the sourcing of our food, the better this can be for all those invested".
Insight 2: The Power of Shared Experiences
The Producer Summit brought together a diverse array of talented artisans, including farmers, cheese-makers, brewers, chocolatiers, and more. This brought an important realisation:
There is a great strength and richness in the artisan community, that showcases the dedication and passion that goes into crafting exceptional products.
This was made abundantly apparent as we chatted and connected over shared values, compassion for shared struggles and delicious food.
The summit provided a unique opportunity for attendees to connect and learn from one another. By sharing experiences, insights, and ideas, we all discovered new perspectives and forged valuable connections. This collaborative atmosphere nurtured a sense of unity and fostered a supportive network among fellow producers.
Insight 3: Craftsmanship Is A Storytelling Tool
Throughout the summit, it became evident that storytelling plays a crucial role in showcasing craftsmanship and promoting quality produce. Artisans who shared the stories behind their creations found that consumers were not only captivated by the products but also developed a deeper connection and appreciation for the craft.
Craftsmanship goes beyond the physical; it weaves a narrative that resonates with consumers on an emotional level.
If we are to help foster a society that would rather invest in quality for the greater good of their health, their community and their environment, then telling the stories behind the produce is the set-apart key to enabling that.
The Summit Summary
The Westmorland Family's Producer Summit was an incredibly insightful and inspiring event that reignited our passion for quality produce, craftsmanship and the community that uphold these shared values.
The incredible power of shared experiences, the captivating art of storytelling, the beauty of authenticity, and the joy of celebrating fine produce was so apparent. These insights have further reinforce our own values here at Blendsmiths to hero fine quality ingredients and to spread the word about the remarkable producers, our stories and the exceptional care that goes into every product.
Together, let's embark on a journey to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the artistry and passion that goes into every artisanal creation, making a lasting impact in the world.
Thank you once again to the Westmorland Family, the key speakers and all the wonderful community of producers that made this Summit an insightful and memorable event.
Credited to the author:.