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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on why he wanted to be an Atmos Patron

September 7, 2012

We had a glorious morning today in front of the Dairy Crest site where Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was unveiled as a Patron of Atmos Totnes.  Some better photos are to follow soon, as well as a short film of the event.  For now though, here is a short interview we did with Hugh, about what it is about Atmos Totnes that inspired him to become a Patron.

Why did you decide to support Atmos and to become a Patron?

This is fantastic, to come down here this morning and see the crowd, and see the amazing potential of this site, it’s so great.  Totnes has already done so much, set such a blazing trail for those who are interested in finding new heart in their community, a new heart that’s committed to a better way of living, and a more sustainable way of living, and if we could pull this project off, it would just be a brilliant example for the rest of Britain of what’s possible  at a community level.

It makes no sense at all for amazing buildings with great spaces in the heart of communities to stand idle for years.  There’s no point in just waiting for the highest business bidder to come along when there’s such a fantastic opportunity to do something that would really put some incredible energy and heart into the whole community here in Totnes.

Why does it matter that a community owns and develops its own assets?

It matters because our sense of community is under threat.  The news is so dominated by big business, stories about the Euro, about the problems of growth and recession.  The point of a project like this is to put the issues of recession and the economic growth of the nation to one side and say listen, we can make our own local growth here, we don’t have to be dependent on government and big business to thrive as a community.  To support our local entrepreneurs.   To tap into great local food suppliers.

Totnes knows all about that .  The Transition movement here has blazed a trail both nationally and internationally.  What I like about it is that there is no limit to its ambition.  Something like this comes up, and Totnes says “we can do something with that because we know what spirit we have and we know what great entrepreneurs we have here so let’s make this happen”.

As a passionate advocate of local food, why does this project excite you?

Obviously, when it comes to the food side of things here I just start salivating and getting really a little over excited, because clearly as a local food hub this is going to be incredible.  I have met load of people today, local food producers, who have come down to say “we want to be part of this, we’ve got a lot to offer”.  Whether it’s farmers coming down with their amazing local meat, vegetable growers…  I’ve just been talking to a couple of guys who are doing a brilliant project, a lovely new local business, making mushroom growing kits out of coffee grounds.  I mean, how incredibly creative!  I am really looking forward to taking that home and giving it a try.

This will be an amazing opportunity for people like that and also, nothing draws a crowd like good food.  So as well as providing a home and a potential business site for people who have great food ideas, this is going to draw people in from all around the community.  I think it will send out a new wave, so those people around here who are perhaps a little undecided about the Transition movement or not quite sure what it’s all about are going to be drawn to this, they’re really going to want to see what’s happening, and when they get here, I’m sure they’re going to be blown away.

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