Delegates were given a taste of Berwick’s rich food heritage, including its famous salmon, at a Cittaslow conference in South Korea.
Bernard and Margaret Shaw attended the forum in Wando, about five hours journey from Seoul, on behalf of Cittaslow Berwick.
The event discussed the sustainable, ecological and aesthetic value of marine towns and to establish co-operation between such towns.
There were representatives from Finland, Norway, Turkey, Japan, Canada, South Africa, Australia and of course Korea. The president and director of Cittaslow International based in Italy also attended.
Each town was invited to give a 30 minute presentation with Berwick choosing a presentation by Derek Sharman, on the Mouth of the Tweed project.
This gave a history of Berwick’s food heritage, present day local produce, and the use now being made of buildings which were part of our food heritage.
This presentation was extremely well received and indeed the director of Cittaslow International asked for a copy so that he could use it as an example of good practice when he encourages other towns to become part of the Cittaslow network. There was general concern at the possible loss of the last salmon station in the Tweed estuary.
“We were invited to take examples of our own local produce and, for ease of transportation and to avoid contravening custom controls we took products from The Chain Bridge Honey Farm and Doddington Dairy,” explained Margaret.
“We also shared in the products brought by other international representatives. Honey proved to be almost a universal product. We enjoyed the difference in taste and presentation of the smoked salmon from Cowichan Bay, British Columbia and our own Tweed salmon.”
While the whole event could have been overshadowed by the ferry tragedy which took place off a neighbouring island, the people of Wando showed great resilience and ensured that the programme was only altered in a minor way. All singing and dancing had understandably been removed and delegates were invited to wear yellow ribbons as a sign of hope.
Participants were shown how the Koreans attempt to make the most of their heritage, with designated trails through paddy fields and historic sites where ancient games were being played.
“A film that had been made on the island had excerpts re-enacted in their original film location to the enjoyment of many - perhaps an opportunity for Berwick and The Railway Man,” said Margaret.
The philosophy behind Cittaslow, and in particular the Korean definition, is that everything in creation has its own divine nature and life.
“It is impossible to quantify how Berwick can benefit from such exposure,” said Margaret. “All the presentations were published on a hard backed book and distributed to the other participating towns. We have invitations to South Africa and Canada and a number of Korean students we met intend to visit Berwick on their way to Edinburgh!”