by Penny Lewis Stempel, Film Worker
We were thrilled to be asked to screen Y Fenni at this year’s Abergavenny Food Festival. The fight to keep Abergavenny livestock market in the centre of this farming town has gained momentum and around 300 people turned up to a packed public meeting recently. It seems that Y Fenni has gained quite a following and KALM (Keep Abergavenny Livestock Market) asked if we could show the film in their pop-up shop throughout the weekend to tempt passers-by. Abergavenny Food Festival is now very well known and attracts up to 40,000 visitors. The pop-up shop was fantastically well located, right in the middle of Abergavenny, and a constant stream of locals and visitors came in to offer support, ask for information and sign the petition.
The 10 minute film was shown non-stop and had a fantastic response from a wide mix of people. A lot of farmers came through, some local and some from further afield, but all of them opposed to moving the livestock market out of town. It turned out that local farming family the Beavans had been texting the agricultural community to make sure they came along. Food Festival visitors from all round Britain and abroad asked lots of questions and were genuinely concerned and interested. The film making group from King Henry has moved on to other towns & sixth form colleges now, so I was particularly delighted they popped in to say hello and watch Y Fenni – it was great to see them again. The film evokes a strong response and some people viewing it were quite moved – two people even cried!
Y Fenni has been a wonderful project to work on. The drama group from King Henry School Abergavenny were really committed to the film, put lots of work in and got a huge amount out of it. The Beavans gave us an incredible welcome at their two farms, a lot of their time and mounds of freshly home-made Welsh cakes!
But most importantly, I feel we have played a part in a vital local debate. Everyone seems to have heard about the film, it is being blogged about and shared online and it offers a crucial angle on the issue – the voice of young people. Those who want to move the market miles out of town say that it is only the older generations of the many farming dynasties who are attached to the current site for buying and selling their livestock. But Y Fenni is made by teenagers and their concern comes over loud and clear.
There is a lot happening on the sustainable food front in Abergavenny at the moment. As well as KALM and its progressive ideas about a revamped central market offering local food and crafts, there are a number of other groups springing up. Abergavenny Orchard and Gardens Group is about to plant a community orchard on land at Abergavenny Castle, there is a Woodland Group, another group is aiming to grow vegetables at the Station and there are moves afoot – and a lot of public support – to turn Abergavenny into a Transition Town. We wholeheartedly support all these groups and are hoping to work with them on a future project.
At the beginning of November, KALM (the Keep Abergavenny Livestock Market campaign) lost their case in the High Court, trying to block the demolition & relocation of the Market. Undeterred, their legal team is lodging an appeal and fighting on. The legal fees are mounting up so if you would like to donate to their campaign you can do it at: