[This article has been written by one of the organisers of Creative Harvest, Kristy Plumridge.]
Creative Harvest will be running for its fifth consecutive year on Saturday, 22nd and Sunday 23rd January 2022, 10am-4pm across West Gippsland, including Neerim South, Drouin, Warragul, Yarragon and Moe. If your idea of a fun weekend is visiting veggie patches and getting tips for your edible garden, then Creative Harvest may be the event for you.
15 private food-producing and edible gardens will be opening their gates. They range from small suburban backyards to large family farms. Visitors can gain inspiration and tips for their veggie patch and also see around 30 artists and creatives at work at the various gardens. There is something for all ages to explore, learn, and enjoy a great weekend, ranging from beekeepers to winemakers, jam makers, jewellers, mosaic makers, painters, printmakers and sculptors.
Some gardens allow you to bring your fur-friend, some have coffee carts and food, and some you can bring your picnic lunch too. A downable map is available from the website to plan out your trip, along with descriptions of each garden.
Green Hills Farm – a gardener’s view
[Green Hills Farm is a labour of love for the owners Kristy and Neil Plumridge. In 2015, they bought 150 acres of neglected, weed-strewn farmland. Today they grow grass-fed beef and chemical-free garlic. An orchard and veggie garden feeds their family and supplies local cafes and restaurants. Check ABC iView to see the garden featured in a 2021 ‘Yarragon’ episode of ABC Dream Gardens.]
This will be our second year involved with Creative Harvest. We had no idea what to expect in 2020, just a love of producing food, sharing knowledge between like-minded gardeners and a desire to connect back into the community amid a global pandemic that heightened the urge for self-sufficient food security.
We opened our farm gates to cars lined up at 10 am, and the fun began. Overall, around 350 visitors came to our farm (650 total across all gardens) to enjoy a day out with family and friends following a year of lockdowns and working/schooling from home.
The best part was sharing ideas for growing food. Chats about leaf curl, weed management, composting and watering systems went along with what the heck do you do with a glut of zucchinis. Many of us promised not to plant so many next time but, of course, we could not help ourselves and hence zucchini slice is already on the regular menu at our house.
Green Hills Farm is a large-scale working family farm with a 60-tree orchard and a large market garden. We had no experience before buying the farm on growing food, just naive optimism that we could make it work. Many people have helped us, including professionals, neighbours and the community, which is how we met the fellow gardeners involved with Creative Harvest.
Creative Harvest is a way to share what we have learnt so others can have a go. It is open to all levels of gardeners – no expertise required. Visit more extensive gardens like ours, such as Graham Duell’s or The Bate’s, and take away ideas of how to create a climbing bean structure or wicking bed on your patch of land. Visit suburban homes making food-producing gardens in their tiny backyards or carports, with Urban Farm and Our Little Patch being two examples.
This year, our farm will host creatives and food vans, including David Doyle’s sculptures featured in our orchard, our beekeeper (Carolyn from Come Fly with me Beekeeping), and Love in a Jar with their delicious home-made jams and relishes. We will be selling our new season garlic. Grab a coffee from Franklin and the Bean and a wood-fired pizza (try the garlic one – it’s our garlic) from Pellegrino’s Wood Fired Pizza.