On Sunday, September 6 the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden hosts its annual Harvest Festival, a day of games, music, crafts, garden tours, workshops and more. The Garden opened to the public in 2009, and since then, it has seen phenomenal growth in attendance and memberships. Mary Blockberger, the Garden’s manager, attributes the increasing numbers to the Garden’s growing reputation and public outreach programs. “We’ve become a very popular destination with lots of tourists coming to visit in the summer,” says Blockberger. “In fall, winter and spring, we host a lot of events, workshops and lectures that get a lot of local people out.”
Also popular are the Garden’s school programs. Blockberger and her army of volunteers are working with local teachers to tailor curriculum to teaching needs and to the time of year and age and ability of the classes. “In spring, we might do something on pond life, rather than on leaves, which is more of a fall thing,” explains Blockberger. This past April and May saw approximately 400 Coast students from kindergarten to Grade 7 visit the Garden on a school program.
The Harvest Festival was the brainchild of one of the Garden’s volunteers who saw an opportunity to gather the Garden’s produce with community help and donate the harvest to the Sunshine Coast Food Bank. In 2014, 1,500 pounds of food from the harvest was donated to the Food Bank. This year, with the prolonged drought, Blockberger worries about the gardens and what might be left to harvest. “We’re under the same water restrictions as everyone else,” she says. “So our vegetable garden will be less than stellar by September, but we decided to go ahead anyway.” In order to supplement any losses from the Garden’s harvest, people who come to the Festival are asked to bring something from their own garden that will keep, or a non-perishable food item. Those who do will be entered to win a two year family membership to the Garden.
The Harvest Festival is admission by donation, runs 11am to 4pm, and will feature music by Brothers in Farms, a plant and garlic sale, beehive demos, garden tours, kids crafts, games, sun viewing with the Astronomy club, nature weaving, and Master Gardeners will be available to answer any gardening questions. “People come and they stay for hours,” says Blockberger. “It’s a really good family fun day.” Visit coastbotanicalgarden.org for more information.