To celebrate this year's food growing in the Royal Parks, free harvest festivals will be held next month (September) in Kensington Gardens, Greenwich Park and The Regent's Park.
A harvest festival is a global tradition that occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. In Britain this typically occurs in September, and the festival is usually held on a Sunday.
The Royal Parks has a number of demonstrations allotments, which aim to educate and inspire the public to grow their own food irrespective of whether they have a garden, balcony or simply a window box.
Kensington Gardens' Harvest Festival will be held on Sunday 6 September between 11am-4pm. Bee demonstrations will be carried out by Brompton Apiary and visitors can participate in the harvesting process by digging up potatoes. Children's activities will include face painting, a story telling marquee and a mobile petting farm provided by Miller's Ark Animals. Complimentary hot and cold drinks will be provided throughout the day while stocks last.
Greenwich Park will host its inaugural harvest festival on Sunday 13 September, 11am-4pm, in The Queen's Orchard, located in the north-eastern corner of the park. The orchard, previously a wildlife garden managed by Greenwich Council, was returned to The Royal Parks in 2013. With the help of the Friends of Greenwich Park and local volunteers, the orchard has been restored to a place for growing fruits and vegetables. Visitors to the festival can tour the orchard, take part in a potato dig, and enjoy bee demonstrations. Children's activities will include face painting, pond dipping and a special appearance from The Royal Parks' bear.
The third and final harvest festival will be held in The Regent's Park Allotment Garden on Saturday 19 September, between 11am -5pm. A chef will be on site to prepare free mini pizzas using fresh produce from the allotment and visitors can wash it down with homemade rhubarb and ginger squash. Children can make a paper pot and plant a seed in it, embark on a garden hunt, and learn how to identify different types of ladybirds. An array of goodies will be available for a small donation including herb bath bombs, herb salts, potted plants, and pressed flower cards - all made using ingredients from the allotment. Donations are reinvested into the allotment and used for essentials such as seeds and secateurs.
On all three days experts from The Royal Parks Guild – The Royal Parks alumni society – will be on hand to answer any questions about food growing.
Colin Buttery, Deputy Chief Executive for The Royal Parks said:
"Our harvest festivals are a great day out for the whole family, providing a fun and educational way to find out more about the joy of growing your own food.
"Aside from saving money, growing your own crops provides access to fresh vegetables and fruits, free from chemical pesticides and fertilisers. It can also benefit the environment through a reduction of food waste, packaging and transportation."