Take time for a Big Lunch

Philippa Arnott, (front) whose land share group in Funtington is organising a Big Lunch
Philippa Arnott, (front) whose land share group in Funtington is organising a Big Lunch

Today (Sunday, June 2) marks the Big Lunch, a nationwide get-together for neighbours – a great excuse to get to know people, try new things and have a party!

We spoke to Philippa Arnott, Big Lunch co-ordinator in Funtington, to find out more...

Q. Why should people get involved with the Big Lunch on June 2?

A. It is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours and build a community spirit. It is also a good excuse for children to get together and share lunch and play together. This is our fourth season as growers on this allotment.

Q. What will you be doing to mark the event?

A. I shall be sending invitations to all our Landshare members and asking them to bring a plate of food to share as well as everything they need for themselves. We will keep it simple and all bring our own food, cutlery and chairs. I shall be gathering barbecues and charcoal and hope some of us will be able to bring gazebos or tents for shelter. I will also be putting up bunting around the summerhouse, cooking, setting up tables and chairs and encouraging everyone to come and join in. We encourage everyone to use food produced on their plot where possible.

Q. Who will be joining you?

A. We have had quite a big changeover of plot-holders since our Big Jubilee Lunch, mainly due to the atrocious growing conditions last year, so we see it as an ideal way to bring everyone closer together. I am hoping to enthuse many of our new plotters and encourage them to come as it is such a great way to get to know each other and swap advice and ideas. Although it is a bit early in the year we generally get some lovely salads, strawberries and chutneys made the previous year. The Big Lunch is a marvellous way to bring people together here and at the same time we can enjoy the benefits of our hard work!

Q. You’ve taken part in previous years – how has the Big Lunch grown locally over the past four years?

A. Our Big Lunch is for Newells Landshare members so the number of plots stay the same. However, some are shared and some people have more than one plot so numbers do vary from year to year. I do not know how many other Big Lunches there will be in this area.

Q. Tell us about last year... how did you survive the weather?!

A. Last year we had a great time. While the Thames River Pageant was taking place in pouring rain we had a lovely, bright, dry day for our Big Jubilee Lunch. We even had a Jubilee cake made by one of our plotters (I’m in the picture above at the 2012 Big Lunch – with the cake). It was very windy, though, and it was tricky keeping the barbecues going.

Q. What is your favourite food for lunch?

A. Being Landshare Big Lunchers, I think the favourite food has to be homegrown salads and strawberries. Unfortunately as this spring started so late I think the only crops we will have ready this year will be ones grown in polytunnels.

Q. Can you share your top gardening tips?

A. I have no gardening tips! I struggle on battling against the elements and the hard clay of the ground, but I still enjoy it.

Q. What do you do when you’re not on your allotment, or organising Big Lunches?

A. I am secretary of the Chichester Natural History Society, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year so I am very busy with that. I am also, as is my husband, a member of Chichester RSPB group and volunteer with the Peregrines Date With Nature project at Chichester Cathedral. I try to keep up with my family: I have a very busy daughter in Salisbury and a granddaughter who is two-and-a-half years old who lives near Durham with her parents (my son and daughter-in-law). We have just been to stay with them and they are now staying with us for a few days’ holiday in our beautiful area.

For further information or to request a free pack including posters and invitations to organise your own Big Lunch on June 2, visit www.thebiglunch.com