20 April 2023

A fun-gi time is promised at new South Coast festival

| Claire Sams
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Four mushrooms with blue caps

Mycena interrupta, also known as the Pixie’s Parasol, is an Australian mushroom species. Photo: Alison Pouliot/Supplied.

Fungi will be the focus of an upcoming festival, with events being held from Batemans Bay to Eden.

Fungi Feastival co-founder Annette Kennewell said the event would highlight everything attendees would need to know about mushrooms and truffles.

“It’s about learning about science, eating fungi food and creating fungi art,” she said.

Ms Kennewell, Fiona Kotvojs and Josh Whitworth partnered to organise the Feastival, with their keynote speaker coming on board recently.

Fungi ecologist, author and environmental photographer Alison Pouliot will present a seminar and two workshops.

“Alison, as a fungi scientist and specialist, will be talking on the symbiosis of fungi and plants – and why that’s critical, at both an agricultural and an environmental level,” Ms Kennewell said.

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The Feastival will also feature a range of other events, including mushroom-growing workshops and dog-led truffle hunts.

Several South Coast restaurants, cafes and caterers will have fungi-themed offerings festival-goers can enjoy, with Florabel, Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant, il Passaggio, and Dromedary Hotel running fungi-themed dinner events.

Ms Pouliot will also be at il Passaggio, with a chance for questions potentially arising.

Additionally, there will be a course in fungi photography, a chance to make mushrooms or mushroom-themed items out of clay, and documentary showings.

Ms Kennewell said a key goal of the Fungi Feastival was to spread knowledge and skills around farming, cooking and eating fungi.

“We need to get people excited about mushrooms and truffles and growing their food locally,” she said.

Though the Far South Coast is known for its dairy and seafood, Ms Kennewell foresees a world where the fungi industry provides tourism and employment opportunities for the region.

“We would like to be famous for our fungi as well,” she said.

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“It’s an opportunity for us to inspire more young people to grow fungi – whether it’s truffles or mushrooms – and more people to understand the joy of fungi.”

Mushrooms – and by extension the Feastival – are a chance for people to explore and dip into growing their own food, in regional areas or Canberra.

“That’s the thing about mushrooms – you don’t have to be out in the country to do it, you can be growing gourmet mushrooms like oyster and shiitake mushrooms in your own urban farm,” Ms Kennewell said.

The question of sustainable farming is key to the Feastival’s ethos.

“I think that, for me, personally, it’s come out of the Black Summer bushfires,” Ms Kennewell said.

Amid the devastation of the bushfires, the question of delicate supply chains had come to the fore for many communities as transport and telecommunications were lost, she said.

“For people to have those skills [to grow their own food] is incredibly important – it’s about food security and growing our food locally.”

The inaugural Fungi Feastival will be held from 16 June to 16 July, 2023, with tickets available via the website.

Ticket sales for other events will be added shortly.

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