WITH food prices increasing on many imported ingredients, restaurants are finding that the costs associated with preparing certain dishes are rising dramatically. Over the next few years this is expected to continue.

And, of course, this price hike hits the public’s pocket too, as the weekly shopping bills rise.

The only answer is to shop locally, and cook what’s in season.

In our corner of Herefordshire, this is relatively easy, given the fantastic range of local producers providing us with everything from bread and cheese to cider and gin, meat and vegetables to apples and pears.

We are so lucky to be where we are, as we can all find farms that sell eggs at gate posts, and there are scores of small farm shops scattered throughout the area.

By buying locally and seasonally, we have the opportunity to go out and meet the producers in our area.

The vegetable shortages from Spain helped us create a closer relationship with the people we get our vegetables from.

We also buy our cheeses from The Pleck, Monkland, our mutton from Weobley Ash, Stansbatch and Hereford beef from Walls Butchers, Craven Arms.

There is a general assumption that artisan food is going to be expensive, but that is not always the case, and it’s almost always tastier.

It’s also reassuring to be certain the food you are eating is from an ethical and sustainable source.

Growing your own is the ideal way to combat rising food prices – and is hugely satisfying – nothing beats digging up your own potatoes or tucking into freshly picked salad.

A few years ago when we (the chefs) took over the land behind the restaurant, we all thought 'we don't have the time' or ‘we don't know what were doing’; two/three years on, and we have a productive space that saves us from having to use imported fruit and vegetables.

We've balanced the garden by planting perennial crops, fruit bushes, rhubarb, herbs and artichokes so year on year, with minimal work, we get an abundance of produce.

I know that we are are fortunate here at the Riverside to have a garden and orchard behind our restaurant, along with meadows and the riverbanks to forage from.

But everyone should try at some level to grow a few things - from a few herbs or perennial plants in a window box to planting a heritage fruit tree in the garden.

For those with little or no outdoor space, there’s the possibility of joining great schemes such as Incredible Edible Ludlow, where people are encouraged to plant in unused spaces. Or you could rent an allotment space – most of these are run by local authorities, so contact your local council to find out more.

Other possibilities, like organising a communal area for your community to grow food, could also be an option. There are so many different ways to start, but the important thing is to grow something from seed to plate - there is a real reward and enjoyment in doing so, and children also love it.

You could even go on a foraging course – there is one in Herefordshire run by Liz Knight at Forage Fine Foods in the Black Mountains.

Once you know exactly what’s edible, you can confidently spend a Sunday afternoon foraging for your dinner while enjoying the fine spring sunshine.