Slow Food Brisbane members at Twilight Dinner, Felton Food Festival, 26.3.17

Felton Food Festival Why is it Special (Felton is fine without a mine!

Alistair McLoad, Sally McCreath et al

by Bruce White, Slow Food Brisbane member

A Farmers Market Down Under with a greater cause.

Located on a working farm in the picturesque and productive Felton Valley, South West of Toowoomba, the Felton Food Festival (FFF) aims to connect food lovers, families and farmers, and provide a tangible link between paddock and plate.

Like a lot of regions in Queensland and New South Wales, Felton has been threatened by exploration for coal seam gas, and prompted by a decision by one of those companies to renege* on a course of action, the local farmers and Friends of Felton decided to celebrate the produce they grow with a Farmers Market Festival. The FFF is now in its 6th year, having grown from a small event in 2012. Over its short history, it has built a strong reputation, synonymous with farming, food, music and fun.

*17 Sept 2012. On Wednesday, the Southern Downs Protection Group celebrated the decision by mining company Arrow Energy to hand back a state-issued permit allowing it to explore for coal seam gas on the Southern Downs   from Warwick Daily News

Coal seam gas (CSG) mining in Australia has grown rapidly since 1995, responding to buoyant international demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG), and encouraged by Australia’s minerals exploration and extraction laws, which provide big rewards to those who find and extract these exhaustible resources. In several regions, notably the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales and the Darling Downs in Queensland, CSG comes into direct contact with agriculture.

Felton boasts magnificent scenery, clean air, rich fertile black soils and a climate that enables it to grow food crops all year round. Felton farmers produce a wide variety of crops including sorghum, corn, wheat, barley, chickpeas, mungbeans, sunflowers, lettuce, cabbages, beetroot, celery and onions. The district is also a significant producer of beef, lamb, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs.

As well as being able to taste wonderful produce Slow Food Brisbane presented the Slow Food Manifesto for Quality. (Good, Clean & Fair) with Noelene and Ian McBride sharing the philosophy of the Slow Food movement, (which boasts 700 members in Queensland) , there were guest speakers discussing farming practises, scientists talking climate control, gardening sessions, Breadmaking lessons, cooking competitions, fun for kids with farmyard animals.

In 2017 on a wonderful weekend in March more than 12000 people showed their support for the festival as did over 100 stalls showcasing locavore sourced from within 50 kl of the Felton valley. A great family day out, a learning experience for many offering wine and food, music & educational presentations.

Celebrity Chefs and TV personalities including gardening guru Costa, put their weight behind the Festival. This included a dinner on the Saturday night for 300 guests, sponsored by Air North, where Alistair McLeod with help from local chefs put together a twilight Dinner showcasing the diverse produce of the region.