Rural Futures developed a project to promote local food, celebrate its distinctiveness and use it for both tourism promotion and education.
Over several years had worked Rural Futures to get a unique cluster of seven artisan cheesemakers to co-operate to promote Lancashire cheese. Lancashire is the only county to put its name to three cheeses, Creamy, Crumbly and Tasty Lancashire. With these artisan cheesemakers all located in one postcode and a heritage of local cheesemaking which can be traced back to the farms through cheese stones still located in the landscape, Lancashire cheese is a distinctive local product.
To celebrate this link between local food, local producers, history and landscape Rural Futures created a series of three cheese trails: the Creamy, Crumbly and Tasty Lancashire Cheese Trails.
Each trail is a short circular walk in the vicinity of the cheesemakers dairies, and where appropriate walkers are encouraged to call in at the dairies, restaurants, pubs and shops nearby which serve local cheese. Each walk is whey marked and promoted with a map and leaflet, which also promotes the cluster of producers, Lancashire cheese and recipes. Rural Futures also arranged for the walks to be available on the Forest of Bowland and Lancashire & Blackpool Tourist Board websites.
As part of the project we identified an opportunity to take a demonstration of Lancashire cheesemaking into local schools. The result was that 1100 school children saw cheese being made and in the process were introduced to:
- Science as liquids turned to solids before their eyes
- History as the history of cheesemaking on local farms was explained
- Geography through the tightly knit area of 7 cheesemakers in 1 postcode.
- Personal, social & health education (PSHE) - as diet & healthy eating was discussed and the social history of generations of cheesemakers was examined.
- The project was conceived, organised and delivered by the Rural Futures team and funding was applied for through the European LEADER+ programme, together with private sector contributions and the support of Lancashire County Council and the Forest of Bowland AONB.