You might have heard people harping on about the “know your farmer” movement lately. Cafes with quirky hand drawn signs spout things about reducing the distance between the source to the table, people flock to weekend markets to stuff their baskets with produce, and the word ‘organic’ is about as popular on menus as smashed avocado on toast. It certainly conjures up images of food being delivered by a cheery farmer in overalls but is saying that we know our farmers just another nonsense platitude?
It also symbolises our collective disgust towards schlepping food great distances across the world and factory farms that pay little attention to their environmental impact- but what does knowing our farmers really look like? How do they live? What is important to them? (spoiler alert: the weather) And what actually goes into stocking the shelves of our supermarket? And yeah, you’re not exactly going to be knocking on the doors of country farms-you’re either going to get shot, have the dogs set on you, or be invited in for a cuppa and cookie – all odds that we’re not exactly comfortable with. So how does one go about it?
Easy! The answer is the annual Felton Food Festival. Despite being an easy drive inland from Brisbane, the Felton valley isn’t a place you hear about much. However, there is a good chance that whilst either dining at a Brisbane restaurant, or browsing the aisles of your local supermarket for your weekly grocery shop, you’ve come across something that has sprung to life in the fertile soil of the Felton valley.
Held every year, sandwiched between working farms, the festival is the epitome of getting to knowing your farmers. Members of the community gather together and showcase their produce, be it lettuce, quail eggs or chilli chocolate brownies, giving the public the opportunity to have a good yarn, ask questions and see the land and processes that go into your daily sustenance.
If you’re a bit of an emotional chump like me, you might even use the Felton Food festival as something more- a time of saying “Hey, thanks for growing my food.” And boy, do they deserve all the thanks they can get- it turns out that farming is bloody hard work. Up at dawn, down after dark, and always (seriously, always) worrying about the darn weather; The Felton farmers who are growing our food are a dedicated, hardened, and talented bunch. Where I can’t be trusted looking after a small ornamental cactus, these farmers are responsible for farming thousands of acres of land. One farmer even let on that he hadn’t had a pyjama and movie day for years- that’s commitment right there.
So, what is the Felton Food Festival?
Every year in April, the Felton Food festival offers the public a chance to experience farm life for the day. It’s more than eating a few delicious things, it is truly immersing yourself in the life of a farmer, without the early starts and rugged hands. It’s about fresh produce, experiencing country living that hasn’t been airbrushed and meeting the people whose daily reality is rooted in the valley. With cooking demonstrations, celebrity workshops (old mate Costa Georgiadis with his epic beard will be there), crop tours, and of course, a huge range of market stalls filled with food to eat, share, Instagram, and pop into the boot to fill your pantry for the week ahead.What is there to look forward to at this years festival?
Seatonfire Chilli Chocolate
It’s not all about fruit and veggies – there is chocolate too! Seatonfire will be selling homemade baked goods (brownies!) made with their luxury chocolate as well as individual chocolate bars. The cool thing about Seatonfire is that they actually grow the chilli they use in their chocolate. With flavours like wild rosemary & sea salt, wild sesame, and liquorice & lime chilli chocolate, run don’t walk to this popular market stall.
Dave House and his team will be serving up the very best local beef and lamb- slather with the gourmet sauces on offer, sandwich it between a roll from the Pittsworth bakery or just tuck in with your hands.
Felton Fresh Produce
Everything from pulses to pumpkins is on display at fresh produce tent. Take your time to smell the earthy smell of fresh veggies, run your hand through a bag of freshly harvested mung beans (Amelie style), and chat to the farmers who lovingly grew it all.
All sorts of educational opportunities!
Catch an informative Q&A in the aptly named Q&A tent and ask a farmer a burning question, sneak into the kids area and pet a baby animal, go to the beer appreciation hour put on by the Granite Belt Brewery or hang out with one of the celebrities championing sustainable farming. Whatever it is, there are plenty of opportunities for learning.What you need to know:
The Felton Food Festival is on Sunday April 10th from 9am-4pm.
Entry to the festival is by donation (bargain!).
Entry donations of $5 or over will receive an entry into the Felton Food Festival gate draw.
Why not stay for the weekend? There are plenty of accommodation options in the area. Some options available here.
For more information, check out the Felton Food Festival page: http://www.feltonfoodfestival.
And finally, check out our photo diary from our food trail of the region. Warning, some of these pictures will definitely make you drool!