If you’re growing an abundant edible garden, the organisers of Margaret River’s Edible Gardens Festival want to hear from you.

The festival is returning in May 2023 and organisers Trevor Paddenburg and Valerie Vallee are on the lookout for 12 new and inspiring productive gardens to feature on the program.

“If you want to get involved, open your productive garden to the community, and help inspire other people to grow their own food, we’d love to hear from you,” said Ms Vallee.

“We’re looking for a wide range of gardens so there’s something for everyone at next year’s festival. That means we want to hear from people with small or big blocks, established edible gardens or ones that are still a work in progress, people growing lots of fruit and/or veggies, and gardens at the coast or inland anywhere between Augusta, Margaret River and Cowaramup. The program will mostly feature home gardens, but we are also on the lookout for a couple of commercial producers or businesses with an edible garden too.”

The not-for-profit Edible Gardens Festival was last held in May 2021 when more than 450 ticket holders visited a dozen carefully curated local food gardens, picking up knowledge, ideas and inspiration from the gardeners. It included a range of abundant home gardens, while One Table Farm, the Margaret River Community Garden and the Margaret River Primary School Kitchen Garden also featured on the program.

This week the organisers met with Gillian Pearce, who got in touch to ask if her 2000sq m property at Witchcliffe could feature in the 2023 Edible Gardens Festival. It boasts an emerging permaculture garden that’s already home to thriving vegetable patches, a chook run, a wide variety of fruit trees fed with compost and greywater, with a second orchard, tropical garden and potting shed planned next. “I attended last year’s festival and it was awesome. So inspiring to see all the gardens on the program,” said Ms Pearce. “Now that my own edible garden is taking shape, I’m really excited to share it with other people in the community.”

Mr Paddenburg said the Edible Gardens Festival is an annual event designed to “connect community and empower people with knowledge and inspiration to get their hands dirty, grow their own food and have fun in the process”.

“We believe it’s such an amazing event for our community, giving locals the chance to learn more about everything from growing your own fruit and vegetables to saving water, composting, reducing waste, living more sustainably and reducing our impact on the earth,” he said.

Tickets are $20 to visit all 12 edible gardens over the May 20-21 weekend in 2023, and will go on sale later this year. To nominate your garden, email trevorpaddenburg@hotmail.com with your name, contact details and a short description of your garden, or get in touch via the Edible Gardens Festival Facebook or Instagram accounts.

The Edible Gardens Festival is supported by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s Community and Development Events Grant, and the organisers have partnered with the Margaret River Primary School Kitchen Garden Program, the Margaret River Community Pantry and the Margaret River Regional Environment Centre in 2023 to boost the grass roots nature of the event.

“The festival is also a great chance for would-be or current food growers to get up close and personal with experienced gardeners, homesteaders and green thumbs, allowing them to tap into an immense bank of local and place-based knowledge that can help them on their food growing journey,” said Ms Vallee.

“Opportunities to visit a variety of properties and draw from a huge range of edible gardening topics that are demonstrated in real life provides inspiration and ideas for what they can apply to their own situations.

“Given the incredible feedback from last year’s event, we’re excited to bring it back to the community in 2023. We’ll also be recruiting volunteers soon to help make the Edible Gardens Festival more amazing than ever.”