The Feast Table

21 October 2018, a farm in the Teign Valley

Report by Helen Chessum: 

"We took on the idea of combining food with discussions about energy in the future. At Teign Energy Communities (TECs) and Transition Newton Abbot, we have been fans of combining our meetings with sharing food for some time now. Our AGMs always feature food and some entertainment. Being involved in the Plymouth 'Feast for the Future' programme was therefore an extension of a well-embedded practice. The Plymouth initiative gave us time to focus on what we wanted to do with the format and also to share ideas and approaches with others. We had the luxury of spending time with members of our own group to share thoughts before embarking into our own 'feast'. The programme allowed us space to hone our ideas. Thanks to the University for giving us this opportunity!

Initially we had hoped to have our 'feast' as an event in a local community space where we have been involved with a regeneration initiative. However this proved rather tricky and we had to re-group and think of an alternative. TECs was approached by Devon Earth and Faith network (DEFAN) to host a visit around energy use, energy saving and earth stewardship. The day started with drinks and nibbles followed by a short meditation on the purpose of the day. The group were keen to find out about measures we had taken on our own place and personal energy journey. We had various stations we visited during our energy tour, which involved our split-log boiler heating, solar photo-voltaic, solar thermal, and more recently battery storage for off-grid purposes. We looked at how we engage with the equipment and how, over time, we have developed a much better awareness of how we use energy.

The first point of call was the Feast table round which we gathered for exchanges and stories. At this point people were introduced to the table concept and invited to put in their pegs later in the day. The idea of all the feasts being linked by the table and the pegs was well received. Participants were keen to know where they could see the final table displayed. 

Our 'feast' was a shared lunch, some food provided by the visitors themselves but also by us, sourced from Food in Community, an organisation which collects surplus food for re-distribution to the local community. A veritable feast was enjoyed by all concerned. Over lunch, outside on a perfect sunny day, the exchanges were very fruitful, the buffet-style meal enabling people to circulate with ease. Conversation flowed freely and seamlessly.

The afternoon session began with a talk about our bees and our bee-keeping experience. Participants then took time-out for personal reflections before coming together again for tea and home-made cakes. The closing circle provided more time for questions, reflections and personal commitments. The visit was rounded off with a closing guided meditation.

What a wonderful day and wonderful way to share experiences with people who are already on a journey and open to change. Encounters of this quality certainly give you hope for a better future. Time well spent!"