Festival fare

It takes an army of casual workers to make the Glastonbury Festival tick and a special woman in charge to make sure the battalions are fed and watered in a sustainable manner. Footprint finds out how it is done.

Glastonbury Festival, the iconic music jamboree, even though sadly Bono-less this year as Footprint goes to press, is a massive event that takes a huge amount of organising. Totally committed to sustainability, dairy farmer Michael Eavis of Worthy Farm, who gives over his pastures to the revelry every year, has ensured Glastonbury Festival is set to serve up local produce in three meals a day to more than 1800 site workers over the peak days of the festival. Audrey Brown is the woman whose job is to organise the feeding of this hungry mass of casual labour.

Brown, who says she doesn’t have a job title and is simply known to all as ‘Mother’, tells Footprint: “It will start to kick off on 7th June when the casual labour starts to come in when I will be feeding around 400 a sitting, reaching a peak during the Festival (23-27 June) when it will be 900-950 a sitting in two venues – the main building at Goose Farm and at the satellite catering facility in the field at Ivy Mead.”

Food doesn’t have to be organic (“don’t have the budget for it”) but if it can be it is and it is all locally sourced. Breakfast sausages come from nearby Bridgewater and all meat is local. Organic fruit and veg is also bought locally, at a good price, and all our eggs are from local free range hens too. Bread is from Shepton Market’s Danella’s Bakery and milk comes from Wiseman Dairies, which is where the milk from the Glastonbury herd ends up. Fairtrade tea and coffee is available at all meals. “We limit deliveries during the Festival itself. I will have the last delivery on the Friday before the Festival starts and then no more until Monday-Tuesday after the Festival ends. The only way I can do this is by careful ordering which I am in the process of now, just waiting on final numbers to work out just how much I have to order. I don’t have to worry about bread and milk deliveries because the baker is on site for the Festival and the dairy is on site anyway. I will need to get the order out to the butcher at least two weeks before I need it as he has to have time to mince it, cut it and slice it, so I really need to work out the menu now.

“I keep deliveries to an absolute minimum for sustainability’s sake with none at all during the Festival itself. This year I am ordering baked beans by the pallet which means just one delivery. I can get through 20 tins of baked beans for breakfast at Goose Farm alone so this cuts down on road miles and therefore causes less pollution – and it’s cheaper. Gas deliveries have also been cut down – we have to use Calor – as we installed a massive gas tank for this year. Not only does that cut down on deliveries of hundreds of massive red bottles it is also much cheaper. We used 78 last year at a cost of £80 a bottle and this year it is going to cost half that amount. The added advantage is we are not manhandling those big cylinders when the gas runs out in the middle of cooking,” says Brown. “It will be topped up once more on the Monday before the Festival.”

A £500,000 investment in a second water reservoir on the farm means Brown won’t have to worry about erratic water pressure this year. A spokesperson for the Festival told Footprint: “Last year we built a 1,000,000 litre water reservoir to work towards the Festival being sustainable for water. This year we’ve built another 1,000,000 litre reservoir which means that we will now be totally self sufficient for water – no trucks will be required to bring any water onto site as it will now all come from a mains pipe. Over the years we have brought in hundreds of lorry loads of water to supply the Festival and now we don’t need any. We are over the moon about this as it makes huge savings to our CO2 emissions, which is fantastic.”

“We are very conscious of waste and have become experts at recycling over the years. Packaging for the evening takeaways is bio-degradable and we use wooden forks for that: apart from that everything else is served with proper crocks and cutlery. Food waste is composted here on the farm. Packaging waste is skipped and then sent for recycling. Cans get used for art and sculptures, among other things. We have a pretty good system,” says Brown.

The workers can tuck into cereals and a full English for breakfast, while lunch is usually a selection of fresh salads, local ham or cheese and homemade pies and pizzas, all made from scratch. There is always plenty of fresh fruit, cakes and yoghurt. “We make some cakes but others are bought in from Devondale, a Devon company that makes flapjack bars and so on and from the Cake Company in Sherborne. For dinner there are perennial favourites such as lasagne, loin pork, leek and potato bake. Fish dishes are Marine Stewardship Certified fish. We cater for every taste – meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans – whatever. Usually they will tell us in the morning what they want but we always make plenty because unexpected people are always turning up,” says Brown.

“Up to now I have catered for a maximum of 900-950 at Goose Hall but this year we are having a satellite facility in a marquee in the Ivy Mead field which doubles the numbers,” says Brown. Goose Hall is the main crew catering centre and has recently been transformed from a thatched roofed wooden structure (“not ideal” says Brown) which is now roofed in red tile and has had its walls rebuilt in stone blockwork. This is where the cooking takes place with workers eating in an adjacent mushroom-like structure that Eavis calls the ‘Doofunny’.

For Goose Farm and Ivy Mead, Brown has ordered in two fully kitted temporary kitchens from PKL. The company’s Magnum Kitchen is designed for hire by large scale catering operations, including hotels, MOD, hospitals, contract caterers and for events. At 8.6m x 2.85m wide, it can provide adequate space for up to six chefs to work comfortably and can produce between 1000-2000 meals per day. The package includes:

• 2 x six burner oven range

• Double fryer

• Large grill on table stand

• 610 litre fridge and 610 litre freezer

• 2400mm double bowl sink • Four tier racking

• Stainless steel tabling

On top of this Brown has ordered for each kitchen a hood-type warewasher and a 20-grid combi. Beverage makers are also supplied by PKL. Thirty-eight staff and Brown will work to feed the workers, starting at the crack of dawn with a chef coming in at night to supervise dinner service. “Last year I worked out we served 49,000 meals. Taking into account food, drink, staff wages, gas and equipment hire, it cost £3.54 per head per meal,” says Brown. “This year with the numbers increasing…I won’t know final figures until the litter pickers have gone. If it’s good weather they finish quicker, but if it’s wet it takes a lot longer to clean up as the litter gets stomped into the ground. Finally, it will be over and when the fields are clear the cows can come out to play again.”