FRIDAY 15 JULY 2011 • THE GARDEN ORGANIC GARDEN PARTY AT HIGHGROVE
The Garden Organic Garden Party at Highgrove House
hosted by HRH Prince Charles
Yesterday I was honoured to be a guest at a Garden Party for Garden Organic, hosted by HRH Prince Charles at Highgrove House. As a patron of Garden Organic for many years now, I was also asked to make a speech, and the text of that speech is here:
Your Royal Highness, my lords, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my privilege and pleasure as a Vice-President of Garden Organic to welcome all of you to this important and exciting event.
I want first to express our heartfelt thanks to our Patron, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, for graciously agreeing to host this event, and for giving us the tremendous treat of seeing his magnificent gardens and orchard here at Highgrove.
Sir, having visited your garden at Highgrove, I have found not only that you have a great love of gardens but also your gardens are influenced by the many travels and cultures that you’ve encountered. I especially relished the plethora of scented plants near the house established with the help of Mollie, Lady Salisbury, the wildflower meadow, in which you were aided by the late Miriam Rothschild and, of course, the organic Walled Kitchen Garden that supplies your table. A tour of these gardens is a true journey of joy.
Even though I consider myself to be a good French Republican – and today more than usual, as it is the 14th of July – Sir, do not be unnecessarily worried, I will not ask you to sing the Marseillaise.
I have lived in your country for most of my adult life, so much so, that it has become my adopted home. And your country has given me so much back.
I am very well aware of all the work you have done in the world of food, of the leadership you give, the example you set, and that you consistently reaffirm the deep values and passions we all share. Because of you, Sir, food and nourishment have come to the forefront of British consciousness.
For my part, I agreed to become a Vice-President of Garden Organic, because of the tremendously serious, important work that this organisation does – especially by supporting the preservation of biodiversity with imaginative programmes such as the wonderful seed swaps. We've come a long way since 1954 and Garden Organic’s founder Lawrence Hills's enthusiasm for Russian comfrey and its uses!
The great thing about the organic movement is that it is helping all of us in this country to reconnect with our food culture, our land, our health and our own heritage.
I say "all of us", for it is not just those of us who grow and buy organic food who profit from the increased consciousness of our connection with the soil. Every consumer, every chef, every parent benefits from the increased and better choices now available, and also from the better care we now know we must take of our environment.
Though not everyone will hold the same views about organic produce, yet everyone benefits from the love organic producers show for the land and its management. After all, we are merely the custodians of the land, we do not really own the land, but hold it in trust for the generations to come.
Today's theme is built around the idea of sowing seeds and their potential, something that Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library work illustrates perfectly.This is a wonderful endeavour.
As it happens, it links closely with a passion of mine, to recreate a culinary orchard of 4,000 trees at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Each variety has a particular culinary use, reintroducing some neglected forgotten varieties, many of which are heritage varieties. Each fruit will be particularly appropriate to its own taste, texture and cooking ability.
The core of the orchard is historic British varieties, representing every region of Britain.
We are also nurturing the Entente Cordiale by planting some splendid French varieties, so we are doing our small bit for biodiversity, as well as for Anglo-French relations!
Some news --- in the coming months, with Garden Organic, we will be designing a garden within Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’ garden, a new heritage garden using all Garden Organic heritage varieties. This garden, in the tradition of the ornamental potager, will promote our values and crop diversity. Create a new centre of excellence within Le Manoir garden and of course probably be linked with the creation of a gardening school here at Le Manoir. There is an opportunity to link the heritage seed library story with our menus.
And now I should like to hand over to Myles Bremner, the Chief Executive of Garden Organic. Thank you.
Raymond Blanc OBE
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Raymond Blanc's new book, Kitchen Secrets, featuring recipes from Kitchen Secrets Series 1 & 2 and many more, was published by Bloomsbury on 14 February and is available to buy online from Amazon, from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Brasserie Blanc, Maison Blanc, and from online and retail bookstores.
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