The School of Artisan Food
The new School of Artisan Food, based near Retford in Nottinghamshire, offers craft skills like bread and cheese making as well as an intensive Diploma course. It uniquely combines those skills with teaching business know-how and food education. It was when the owners couldn't find a craft baker for their own bakehouse that the School was established. Now with funding from the East Midlands Development Agency, the School aims to meet a growing demand for craft baking and cheesemaking skills as well as fostering the aspirations of those wanting to set up their own business.
In the wake of the banking crisis, could such a Centre play a role in the wider economy as small businesses are increasingly seen as a way out of recession? For decades, small food and drink businesses have received little attention from any political party as food and agriculture were sidelined as a serious part of the economy - unless you happened to be running a giant supermarket. But the banking crisis, oil prices, water shortages in the countries that provide us with cheap fruit and veg - and now 'The Volcano' - are all subtly shifting the ground beneath entrenched attitudes. Food is once again becoming a significant business.
Sheila Dillon visits the School and speaks to managing director, Gareth Kennedy as well as to artisan cheesemakers Joe Schneider and Martin Gott. Sam Jackson who runs a Deli in Belper, Derbyshire, did a week-long cheesemaking course and Ben McKinnon who did an advanced breadmaking course, give their view on the experience and how it will help shape their future business hopes.
Dr. John Strak, former managing director of Mey Selections, and economist Prof Wyn Morgan of the University of Nottingham give their views on the wider market.