At the invitation of David Schrembri, the Mayor of Qrendri, Malta, Liz Hamilton and Alderman Deborah Girvan from Comber Regeneration Community Partnerhip recently visited Malta to attend the Qrendri Potato and Agrarian Festival. Qrendi local Council in Malta organise this Festival which like Comber’s Festival, is held in conjunction with their potato farmers.

Liz Hamilton said,‘‘ Early July 2016, Mayor Schembri emailed me, having read about our Comber Earlies Festivals on CRCP Website and facebook. Over several months we shared Festival Ideas, information on potato farming, schools potato competitions, local history, tourism.  Having met with former Mayor, Deborah Girvan, an invitation was extended to Mayor Schembri to attend Comber Earlies Potato Festival,and working with Ards and North Down Council, a programme for his visit was organised.  Having struck up a relationship, we were delighted to receive a personal invitation to visit his potato festival in Qrendi.’’

“Although a much smaller festival than ours, along with potatoes on show and cookery demonstrations, there was a classic car display, local crafts, an art exhibition and an ongoing programme of activities including Police dog handling, dance troupes and local singers.  The highlight of the event was sampling potato ice cream and potato sushi.!  These creative ideas would certainly extend our potato recipe repertoire.”

During their visit, a meeting was arranged with the principal of the local Qrendri Primary School and it is hoped that joint projects to explore culture, food and history with Comber Primary Schools can be organised in the future.

Alderman Deborah Girvan said, “Qrendri and Comber have a lot in common.  They are both agricultural regions and the main vegetables are potatoes, leeks and chick peas.  Although potatoes are not grown on the same scale as in our area as the Maltese have very small walled fields, the quality is equally as good.  Having visited the area, I think there are opportunites to develop the contacts and relationships that have been established with regard to agriculture, education and tourism which I intend to follow up with Ards and North Down Council.