The Red Hill Agricultural and Horticultural Society Show or as we like to call it "The Show" is hosted once a year to showcase "this most acclaimed agricultural and horticultural area". Farmers and growers from around the Mornington Peninsula attend with their sheep, alpacas, cattle, poultry, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Displays include farm equipment, working dog training tips, wine judging, cheese judging, wood chop competition, dog high jump, horse show jumping and recently motor bike trick riding. Pavilions are filled with fleece, craft, preserves, cakes, cookies, fruit, flowers... and vegetables. After a day spent at the show, there is a great buzz around our table tonight.
Most of the time, our kitchen gets the rejects from the packing shed - the food that is a bit too ugly, too ripe, a little nibbled and consequently deemed not worthy of a CSA box. But tonight we ate blue ribbon food!
I had never heard of a show before I moved here. Peter's family indoctrinated me and the lively competition is so much fun, the whole family gets into it. The children mark their pumpkins as they are growing in the field, putting ribbons on the stems. They "call" the biggest sunflower and then cover it so the birds can't pick all the seeds out of it, ask us to leave a zucchini growing on the plant so that it grows huge as they want to make a zucchini car to enter into the novelty fruit and vegetable section. The week before the show, as I am staying up late to finish a relish or a sauce, I receive phone calls from the family with much chitter chatter about entries...How the storm has knock the petals off the special rose, who's beans are ready, "oh, and what will you be entering?"
This year I started really thinking about the show and how it is a great place to showcase the quality and variety of locally grown produce. Thousands of people come to the show and the thought of them seeing a huge heirloom variety watermelon that has been grown here, as opposed to a supermarket watermelon from Queensland, got me very excited. Not to mention the opportunity to showcase the quality of organic/biodynamic produce. It is one thing to try and tell people how organic food is nutrient dense, how paying attention to soil health and supporting ecosystems results in not only better food but also a healthier earth, how growing food this way may be more labour intensive than growing with pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers but it will taste better and be better for you and the environment. This is sustainable agriculture. It is another to offer all of this and food that is high quality. I entered 14 different classes in the vegetable section to let our produce speak for itself.
And all I can think is Hip Hip Hooray for Organic/Biodynamic food and heirloom seeds...imagine if the judges had done a blind taste test...Hip Hip Hooray for small scale, diverse vegetable production...Hip Hip Hooray for sustainable agricultural...and Hip Hip Hooray for the celebration of local produce!!!
So get out there and plant your Autumn cover crops, make compost during this highly digestive time in nature, support the life in your soil and grow award winning, nutrient dense vegetables!!! You can do it!
Post Note- The Red Hill Show is our local show...the Mornington Peninsula community gathering together... It is not as big nor as acclaimed as the Melbourne Show. Other local growers and home gardeners are all included and celebrated in the vegetable pavilion...Not trying to be to big for my britches! We have a long way to go as market gardeners!
CSA members expect some blue ribbon 'Australian Butter' Pumpkin this week!!