The Journey of Spice

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How Spices Shaped Culture, Cuisine and Customs

The role of spices in shaping the culture, cuisine and customs that different communities have brought to life in Smethwick will be uncovered by local primary schoolchildren, thanks to a £9,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Many different communities have settled in the town since the 1950s and Victoria Park Primary Academy is setting out to capture stories and memories from local people. The 450-pupil school will be researching how the use of spices has shaped cultural traditions, festivals, ceremonies, cooking and costumes.

Some will visit the Birmingham factory of East End Foods, where the major West Midlands firm prepares and packages many different spices. Others will go to Smethwick’s SallopDrive Market Garden to see how spices have been cultivated in the heart of the community for over 50 years.

Community workshops are planned to help unlock people’s memories about the use of spices and these personal histories will be recorded.

Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “The Academy has hit on an imaginative way for children to learn about the heritage of diverse local communities and then share their newly-acquired knowledge with people of all ages.”

Nick Clitheroe who is leading the project at Victoria Park Primary Academy said, “Children investigating and recording how spices are used in the different parts of our community will bring people together, breed understanding and create a lasting legacy making people proud of the heritage of their local area.”

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