Organisers of Margaret River’s annual Edible Gardens Festival have put the call out for keen and passionate volunteers who want to get involved in this sustainability focused, community event.

The festival now features 11 of the most inspiring food gardens from Cowaramup, Margaret River and Witchcliffe which are set to open to the community on May 20-21.  And volunteers are being recruited to staff each garden and check tickets for a three-hour period. As well as good vibes from helping a not-for-profit community event, volunteers receive a free ticket to attend the rest of the weekend and an invite to a special thank-you dinner at Fair Harvest.

“We had a fantastic team of volunteers who loved being involved in the last Edible Gardens Festival, and now we want to give people a chance to join the team for our 2023 event which is just around the corner,” said festival co-organiser Valerie Vallee. See to sign up as a volunteer.

An entry ticket to the annual not-for-profit food growing and sustainability event is $23 to visit all of the carefully curated gardens. Kids under 16 are free. Ticket-holders are also eligible for 10 per cent off all plants including fruit trees and seedlings from Mitre 10 Margaret River and 10% off wines at Stella Bella.

Passionate local gardeners and festival organisers Trevor Paddenburg and Valerie Vallee said the 2023 program features 11 brand new edible gardens, spanning a huge range of shapes, sizes and styles – but all with a focus on growing fruit and vegetables, building soil health, composting, reducing waste and living a more sustainable life.

“There’s something for everyone at this year’s festival,” Ms Vallee said. “You’ll get to pick up knowledge, ideas and inspiration from the gardeners – some who are real local experts when it comes to wastewater or soils. And you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at their plots, which range from small suburban blocks to larger acreage properties, some well-established and some innovatively designed gardens that are work in progress.”

On the weekend, the first three gardens will open their doors from 9am-midday on Saturday May 20, the following three will be open from 1pm-4pm, the next two will be open from 9am-midday on Sunday May 21, and the final three will open from 1pm-4pm – giving people the chance to check out all 11 gardens or pick and choose what they want to see. 

Among the gardens featured on the program are Anthony and Katie Smith’s suburban block in Brookfield, which has been transformed into a productive, functional and beautiful place to raise their kids and feed the family. 

Former flower farmer Linda Moran has been busy creating a netted food forest complete with plums, peaches, nectarines, figs, guavas, pears, apples, cherries and bananas, plus berries, a huge variety of native and exotic flowers, seasonal annual vegetables and perennials. And Gillian Pearce’s 2000sqm place at Reserve on Redgate boasts an emerging permaculture garden that’s home to thriving vegetable patches, chook run, fruit trees fed with compost and greywater, tropical garden and potting shed.  

Some of the top food gardens in the Witchcliffe Ecovillage will also be on display, including a trio of neighbouring households with abundant food gardens that are growing after much hard work to increase soil life and nutrients. And the Ecovillage’s horticulture manager and soil educator Mark Tupman will also demonstrate how he’s turning a bare 2-acre agricultural block into a vegetable growing powerhouse. 

Meanwhile, some of Cowaramup’s best food gardens feature on the program too, including Jacquie Nicol and her partner Ryan’s more wild approach to edible gardening.

It’s all part of the Edible Gardens Festival aim 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. 

“It’s 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, using smart design and reducing our impact on the earth,” Mr Paddenburg. 

The event is supported by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s Community and Development Events Grant, and the organisers have also partnered with the Margaret River Community Pantry and Margaret River Regional Environment Centre. 

“Whether you’re already growing your own food or want to make a start, don’t miss this 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,” said Ms Vallee. “Given the incredible feedback from last year’s event, we’re excited to bring it back to the community in 2023.”