Run entirely by local volunteers, West Norwood Feast appears on the first Sunday of every month. It's separated into five marketplace 'hubs' dotted around Knights Hill and Norwood Road; for example, at the Fresh 'n Green one you can buy fresh produce and plants for your garden, the Artisans Market showcases local artists and craftspeople selling anything from crochet beanbags to funky necklaces, and the 'Food Fair' is the place to head for delicious and varied street food.
Founded initially by the Spacemakers Agency in 2011, Feast's aim is to celebrate everything that is good about south London, as well as improving the neighbourhood by helping launch local businesses. The majority of those touting their wares are home-grown enterprises, as well as a few from other London markets. Without the hard work and passion of the volunteers, the Feast wouldn't exist. Each person we chatted to radiated a real sense of pride and positivity about being involved.
We visited the Fresh 'n Green area first and tasted huge, crisp popcorn from Drum And Kernel, fragrant fair trade mango fruit salad from Ecopeace and crunchy biscotti and rosewater meringues from Little Peaks. All excellent.
Then we spied artisanal cheeses, Tuscan sausages and smoked fish, not to mention large scotch eggs, pies, cupcakes and well-reared meat. But it was the Food Fair area in St Luke's Church gardens that really got our attention. The usually quiet church grounds is transformed into a huge, smoking, fragrant street food party, with everyone sat on the grass having a fine old time tucking into their lunches. Kids ran wild, a jazz band played, pensioners sat on benches enjoying curry or cake. Stalls cook up their wares in spectacularly large cauldrons and woks. The smells on the breeze are tantalising.
The food we tasted was all delicious, well spiced and thoughtfully cooked. Like proper good comforting home grub. We loved the fact that some of the taller cakes on sale at the stall facing the church steps — all elaborate and beautifully hand decorated — looked very homemade; one or two keeled over slightly from having too many slices cut away. You could tell there was nothing here that had been made on an industrial scale and pimped to look perfect, it was good food with true local soul. With its five market 'hubs' offering a wealth of things to explore and taste, West Norwood Feast makes a really good relaxed day out, a perfect way for a greedy person to spend a Sunday.
Article by Anne Richardson
Check out the West Norwood Feast website for more details.