Organisers of the popular Edible Gardens Festival have been hard at work visiting some of the best productive gardens across the region as they put together the program for the gardening extravaganza which returns on May 11-12.

And it comes as the not-for-profit festival was this week awarded a Shire of Augusta Margaret River community development and events grant, which will help fund a new and expanded format that includes in-depth workshops and a free community sundowner.

“Our favourite part of running the Edible Gardens Festival is getting to visit a whole range of inspiring gardens across the Margaret River region, as we put together an amazing program that really showcases food-growing abundance and sustainable gardening,” says co-organiser Valerie Vallee.

“Every year we have a new line-up of gardens and the amazing gardeners who created them, and we’ve already got some really interesting gardens locked in for the 2024 program.”

Tickets go on sale February 7 at after a sell-out last year. Already confirmed on the program are Karridale’s Gary and Lisa Browne who have a pumping veggie patch, newly planted orchard and market garden where they grow some of the best garlic in the South-West (festivalgoers can hear their top garlic-growing tips and tricks). There’ll also be a behind-the-scenes tour of the Glenarty Road farm market garden, where head gardener Martine grows enough food every week for more than 500 restaurant meals thanks to meticulous succession planting.

Also on the program is nutritionist-turned-food producer Amy Dyson’s leased garden plot, where she indulges her passion for growing brassicas, bitter greens and heirloom vegetables, with expert advice on improving sandy soil, defeating weevils and using a polytunnel to boost productivity. Meanwhile, the Witchcliffe Ecovillage featured in last year’s festival and a different collection of more than a dozen Ecovillage gardens will be on the 2024 program, making it a one-stop-shop to see a broad range of approaches and techniques to edible gardening.

“But we’re still on the lookout for more gardens,” said festival co-organiser Trevor Paddenburg. “If you want to get involved, open your garden to the community, and help inspire other people to grow their own food, we’d love to hear from you.” To nominate, email with your name and contact details. Volunteers will assist on the day and you will need to open your garden to the public for four hours on one day of the weekend.

For the first time at this year’s festival, there will be a separate Saturday and Sunday day ticket with open gardens in the mornings, and in-depth workshops in the afternoons on topics including mastering composting, wicking beds and other waterwise tips, advanced soil management, and garden tool maintenance – hosted at Fair Harvest Permaculture, which is also the official campground for the event and will be serving food and drinks at the café.

To cap the weekend off, festival-goers can reserve a ticket to the free community sundowner where there are plans for a produce swap, live music, raffle, door prizes, hot food and drinks. “After a big weekend of inspiration and learning, the sundowner is a fabulous chance to come together, share your passion for growing and sustainability, and connect with your tribe,” said Ms Vallee.

Margaret River Mitre 10 is also supporting the festival, with ticket-holders able to cash in on a 20 per cent discount on all fruit trees, potted plants and vegetable pots for seven days after the event. Yates Australia’s Nature’s Own range is donating thank-you gifts for the gardeners and volunteers.

“We’re so grateful to our awesome community supporters including the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, Margaret River Regional Environment Centre, Margaret River Community Pantry, Fair Harvest Permaculture, Margaret River Mitre 10 and Yates Australia’s Nature’s Way range. We couldn’t do this event without them,” Mr Paddenburg said.

“It’s a real privilege to play a role in connecting community and empowering people with knowledge and inspiration to get their hands dirty, grow their own food and have fun in the process. Whether you’re already growing your own food or want to make a start, the festival is the perfect chance to get up close and personal with experienced green thumbs and tap into an immense bank of local, place-based knowledge to help you on your food-growing journey.”