Over 6 months ago, a few members of SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla) began planning, prepping beds and planting seeds, all with the vision of funding a marquee for the Southeast Harvest festival, to be held this weekend Saturday 8th November.
Local green grocers, Southlands Fruit & Vegetables agreed to purchase crops grown specifically for this purpose and a continual harvest of baby broccoli, leeks and pak choy was supplied through carefully planned successional plantings over three months. By the end of the harvest, just over $1,400 had been raised towards the cost of hiring the marquee for the festival.
“We’re big supporters of local food here at Southlands. As small business owners, we understand the importance of supporting other small enterprises in your community, so we were really excited when SAGE came to us with this idea,” said Steve Hamer. “It’s been a really interesting process to go through and I think the guys growing the crops have a much better idea of how food production at a commercial scale works.”
The project wasn’t without it challenges, however. Nocturnal visitors to the garden feasted on many seedlings before they even made it into the ground and other pests discovered a taste for broccoli stems, creating headaches for the caretakers of what became affectionately known as the “Veggie Funding” project.
SAGE’s current Market Garden Intern, Kat Cathcart took on the lion’s share of work to raise the vegetables until they were ready to harvest. She was also frequently assisted by SAGE members who volunteered their time to weed and water these important “cash crops”.
“This was really my first experience of growing food as a commercial venture,” said Kat. “It was pretty daunting at first, but I’ve had amazing help and advice from some of the gurus at SAGE, as well as some volunteers coming and helping with the work, so I’m really proud of what we’ve all achieved. It was such an interesting project from the start.”
This innovative fundraising initiative harvested over 120 bunches of baby broccoli, 200 bunches of pak choy and 500 leeks. Given the significant crop losses due to pests, this is a remarkable achievement for a first attempt at a new idea to raise money for a community event and valuable lessons have been learned.
Not only that, but more locally grown, delicious and nutritious food was provided for the community, which is exactly the aim and purpose of the Southeast Harvest festival. For more details about the festival this weekend, check out our event program.