5 April 2024

Resilience at the heart of local food festival returning to Capital Country

| Claire Sams
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A woman holding a watermelon that was cut in half

Community and connection are at the heart of this festival dedicated to southeast NSW farmers and producers – and the result is delicious food and drink. Photo: Supplied.

The best of Capital Country’s food will be on display when a three-day festival returns, but organisers are planning for more than just filling empty stomachs.

Ruth Gaha-Morris, Southern Harvest Association operations manager and owner of Scrumpers Kitchen, said the Bungendore Harvest Festival was set to showcase the people and places that worked to put food on everyone’s plates.

“This is an amazing bioregion. There’s so many opportunities to grow different things and have a really diverse range of produce that people might not be aware of,” she said.

“It’s not so much about the community supporting us – it’s about us supporting the community and providing a pathway for the community to come together.”

The public will be able to get a peek into their local food system across three days in April.

The Bungendore Harvest Festival will launch with a dinner at Scrumpers Kitchen on Friday evening (19 April), where the seasonal food will be paired with speeches from representatives of other local co-operatives.

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During the festival, Sapling Yard Wines will launch their latest vintage, Corang Estate Wines and Bent Shed Produce will lead cooking demonstrations and there will be farm tours.

The program also includes a market day on Sunday (20 April) featuring stallholders, live music and artisan stalls and a pavilion display from Bungendore Show Society.

“There’s so many opportunities for people to be involved and our goal is to bring everyone together so they can see how others are growing or using produce in our community,” she said.

Ruth holds preserves in bottles and stands in front of blackboard menu reading Scrumpers Kitchen.

Ms Gaha-Morris says the Harvest Festival is a chance for farmers and other producers to come together for collaboration and cooperation. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

In 2024 the festival’s theme is ‘Co-operative Food’, which was settled on after Southern Harvest transitioned from a market to a community owned co-operative.

“Being a co-operative allows all of our members to be more than just members,” Ms Gaha-Morris said.

“It’s been an interesting journey – it’s been really exciting and I think members feel more involved.

“It means that they are working together in what is still a not-for-profit organisation, with a lot more ownership.”

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Ms Gaha-Morris said the Harvest Festival’s return came as farmers and the community were looking to the future.

“There’s been a series of really difficult years, weather-wise – and then there was COVID,” she said.

“A lot of people are still recovering from the shock of all that, but our communities have shown there is this resilience and support for our farmers and smallholders.”

The final details of the Sunday Long Lunch are also being finalised, with details to come shortly.

“The idea is that it will be a real, true outdoor affair on a long table, with a lot of local food!”

The Bungendore Harvest Festival will be held 19 to 21 April. Information on tickets for the events can be found via Southern Harvest Association’s website.

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