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30 December 2020

2020 is over, long live 2021!

Written by Published in Food

The British tradition of families getting together to watch Queen’s message on Christmas Day is one, I’ll confess, I wasn’t familiar with before I moved to the UK. It’s exactly the kind of quaint Britishness we read about from afar or watch in Richard Curtis films. So much so, that I couldn’t quite get my head around it.

Only this year, with my children and I hunkered down in London for Christmas, did I appreciate its powerful resonance. Approaching her 70th year on the throne, the Queen has an admirable ability to speak humanely and compassionately to millions of people across the UK. After a year of immense difficulties, there was something cathartic in her recognition of our shared experiences during the pandemic, the heroic efforts of those who have kept us safe and the terrible loss of those who have passed away.

TheGoodPlot1215Her message – “you are not alone” – is one that will have helped many to come to terms with the events of this year and a difficult Christmas period away from loved ones. But just as importantly, it pointed to a brighter future ahead of us. We may look back on how this year of isolation brought us closer together as people, knowing that shared challenges can be tackled together.

It leaves me optimistic moving into 2021. Yes, because as spring blossoms, restrictions should ease and something approaching normality will return in the coming months. With vaccinations underway, many grandparents can look forward to seeing their grandchildren again soon.

But also because, as the pandemic abates, the other major challenges we face together will come back into view, most notably, climate change. The experience of this year can give us the chance to start afresh and embrace sustainable approaches that help us to serve each other.

I’ve mentioned before that I believe the pandemic marks an opportunity to rethink how we produce food and manage land in this country, since we have all become more aware of our health and the impact of our choices on each other.

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From a personal point of view, I am hoping that the big changes to my life that happened this year – beginning this column, opening The Good Plot, my farm-to-table deli in Notting Hill, and starting my farming adventure at Ewhurst Park – will play a part in making that a reality.

For me, with no background in writing, retail or farming, taking on a column, a deli and an estate all in one year has been hugely daunting and humbling. I have so much to learn. My ambition is to contribute to a new way of thinking about how we produce food, but my goal for 2020 was just to get the projects off the ground!

Thinking about how these projects did get off the ground in 2020 despite the pandemic and all the changes it brought, I’m drawn again to those words from the Queen - “you are not alone”. Throughout this year I took comfort from knowing I am far from alone in my efforts.

SublimeMagazine MandyLiei 3I have met such a range of incredible people this year, from sustainable farmers pioneering approaches I want to explore for Ewhurst to artisan producers of delicious creations I’m proud to stock at The Good Plot, to my teams for both enterprises. The successes I’ve had this year are all down to them. I’m looking forward to meeting, learning from and working with many more inspirational people in the coming year. And I’ll be sure to share my experiences here as I go.

I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!

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