Words Jessica Gadd Images supplied
If you’ve been contemplating keeping chickens, cultivating your own veggie patch, or trying to find ways to reduce your ecological footprint, you are not alone. There are thousands of others who feel the same way, and Susie Filleti has met more than a few of them in the process of organising Harvest Fest 2018 – the new boutique farming and lifestyle event that will take place on November 9-11 at Lardner Park, near Warragul.
She says the growing number of small-to-medium and backyard farms goes hand-in-hand with an increasing desire from many of us to know how far our food has travelled, and whether it has been sustainably and ethically produced. And the best way to know that is to learn how to grow or produce it yourself, or connect with growers and producers who are located close by.
‘You can do both of those things at Harvest Fest,’ Susie says.
‘At Harvest Fest there will be farmer’s markets, craft and handmade goods workshops, farming machinery and agricultural displays, cooking classes and demonstrations, and a learning series with speakers on topics like backyard beekeeping, getting started in sheep farming, and reducing waste and living more sustainably.’
The cooking classes and demonstrations highlight Gippsland’s new and emerging food entrepreneurs and talents, such as Trevor Perkins, head chef and owner of Hogget Kitchen. This restaurant, tucked between the vines of a local winery, has a focus on fresh, local foods and all of the butchering, pickling, bottling, smoking, and charcuterie is done on site (read about OHO’s visit to Hogget Kitchen here). At Harvest Fest Trevor Perkins talks about all that, and more, including the glory of Gippsland’s fresh produce.
‘Another one to look out for is Joel Young, a prize-winning local butcher who will be at the Harvest Fest Kitchen demonstrating butchering techniques and traditional sausage-making methods,’ Susie says. ‘There’s also Dave Cann from String and Salt, with meat curing demonstrations, and environmental scientist and ecologist Julie Weatherhead with tips and tricks on which native plants will grow best in your garden, and how to use them in everyday cooking.’
Julie Weatherhead has researched and developed the use of ecosystems to enhance organic vegetable gardening at Peppermint Ridge Farm, an occasional café and native plant nursery in Tynong. She’s just the person to ask for advice about establishing your own eco-garden – and one of the few sources in Australia for rare native food plants like the antioxidant-rich Illawarra Plum.
Harvest Fest is not just for adults, either – there are kids’ cooking classes, an animal farmyard, camel rides, working dog and sled dog demonstrations, and even jousting (OK, so maybe the adults will enjoy these, too). And everyone from kids to hobby- and small-scale farmers will likely appreciate the agricultural drone demonstrations. These robotic helpers are the new heavyweights in farming, now capable of doing everything from moving hay bales to aerial surveillance.
‘No doubt we may have some traditional farmers coming along to Harvest Fest, but we are expecting more smaller operators, new industry farmers, farm-gate producers, people interested in Ag Tech education, and people who appreciate a dynamic food experience,’ Susie says.
‘You will even be able to get behind the scenes and meet the cast from Channel 10’s Good Chef Bad Chef as they film live from Harvest Fest! And with the live music, entertainment and educational opportunities – not to mention access to the Gippsland’s abundant produce, this really is an event that everyone can enjoy.’
What: Harvest Fest 2018
Where: Lardner Park, Gippsland
When: 9-11 November – book tickets online to save 16%
More information: www.harvestfest.com.au