Visitors flocked to the 2013 Southeast HARVEST, held Saturday 27th July, on the most glorious winter’s day at Riverside Park.
There were around 30 different stalls including vegetable growers, fishmongers, organic pastured meat producers, honey & bee products, native fruit wines, local preschools and lots more! Everything you need to eat and live more sustainably was on show. You can see more photos from the day here.
In a new twist for the festival, there was even a stall focussed on fibre harvested from the southeast region, expanding the scope of the festival to encompass not just what we eat, but also what we wear.
Gardening guru and national treasure, Costa Georgiadis was right in the thick of things as he moved from stall to stall, interviewing a number of growers and producers about their enterprises. In the way that only Costa can, he was able to put each grower’s story into context, helping the audience to understand exactly how their farming is important to our region.
“What I love about the Southeast HARVEST festival is it’s not just year in year out. They keep you waiting for sixteen months. That’s time to think about it… time to see what’s going to grow over a couple of seasons,” said Costa. “That’s what it’s about. This is not a fad. A healthy food system is not a fad. It’s not about some annual event that we all get excited about because we might turn a coin. No way. Southeast HARVEST food festival is all about change. Long term change to a food system that’s inclusive, that is community and that’s all about health.”
The new event format and free admission was enthusiastically embraced by visitors and it is estimated that at least 2,000 people came to experience the festival. Food and drink vendors were under the pump all day, turning out the most amazing pizzas, kebabs, gourmet burgers and more, all largely showcasing local produce.
There was a diverse program of entertainment for the crowd, who were vocal with their appreciation. The Seaside Ukelele Orchestra set the mood for the day with a playful sound, then the Deep River Choir and Dance Ensemble wowed everyone with their amazing harmonies, drumming and dancing. Ironic Circus closed the festival with a tight set of rock favourites.
Major sponsor for the event, Southern Phone, said the festival was a great success. “The Southeast HARVEST is an event run by the community for the community and we’re proud to be able to help in any way we can,” said Marketing Manager Tim McTernan. “Southern Phone is a regional organisation that supports local industry and local economies and in that way, we have a lot in common with the Southeast HARVEST.”
SAGE President Stuart Whitelaw expressed his excitement at the turnout. “To see this many people interested in our local growers and it’s not even school holidays… it makes you realise that things are actually starting to change. People are asking questions about where their food comes from and want to know how they can make a difference and be part of the change. They genuinely want to support our local farmers. The Southeast HARVEST is the perfect opportunity for people to get answers to their questions.”