12 April 2023

Paul West talks inspiration, conversation and conservation at Ginninderry’s sustainability festival

| Dione David
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River Cottage Australia host Paul West

River Cottage Australia host Paul West is amped to inspire Canberrans to embrace the joys of homegrown at Ginninderry’s Inspire Festival. Photo: Supplied.

Australian chef and TV presenter Paul West is best known for hosting River Cottage Australia, a television series on which he farmed, harvested and cooked through simple and sustainable living on his New South Wales South Coast farm.

Now he’s headed to Canberra for Inspire Festival – a full day of activity, conversation and fun hosted by Ginninderry to get the whole family onto the path to a more sustainable lifestyle. And he’s amped.

“For a long time, I have been a massive proponent of regenerative farming and sustainability culture. Now I want to inspire people to get started on their own vegetable gardens and to lay out the multifaceted benefits that come from that,” he says.

“It’s not as simple as ‘plant seed, get amazing homegrown produce’. The benefits are layered, complex and far-reaching.

“Your health stands to benefit, as well as that of your family, your community, your planet.”

Stalls at Ginninderry's Inspire Festival

Plenty of stalls to browse at Inspire Festival. Photo: Ginninderry.

Paul’s focus on local and homegrown food is only one aspect of Inspire, which brings a collective of “sustainability superstars” together with the broader community to challenge each other and provide “food for thought” on how to live a more sustainable life.

Guests will be inspired to live more sustainably and learn about the latest trends, products and innovations designed for a brighter future. But it’s also just a great day out for the whole community.

Against the backdrop of live music, a jam-packed program from 10 am to 4 pm invites participants to take an EV out for a spin, learn new gardening skills, sample food and products from local artisans and producers and participate in workshops and activities designed for all ages.

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The program will centre on the main stage where HerCanberra’s Emma Macdonald will be in conversation with Paul, as well as chef turned farmer and food activist Matthew Evans and Damon Gameau, who is best known for his documentary That Sugar Film.

Also central will be the workshop stage where audiences can take in anything from family yoga with Shine-Om to Edwina Robinson’s first-hand recount of how she cultivated a bare paddock into a lush oasis.

Gecko Gang and the “dirtgirl” character will bring roving encounters and entertainment to the kids. There will be potting sessions and stalls touting everything from DIY bike repairs to conservation, food, drinks and more.

Ginninderry’s Inspire Festival boasts a jam-packed program for all. Photo: Ginninderry.

Paul says the Festival comes at the perfect time.

“As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, people turn more and more to home growing. I hope they discover what amazing things they can create on a relatively modest piece of land or in a pot,” he says.

“You don’t need a quarter acre block with a quasi-garden market to reap the benefits of homegrown produce.

“Once you start to connect with the countryside and how your food’s grown, it strikes you as one of the most important tasks a human being can undertake, and it’s satisfying on so many levels.”

READ ALSO Here’s why Ginninderry’s a rising star of Canberra’s green scene

He reckons audiences can expect a big “rev up” from his segment.

“I want them to know that their singular efforts as home gardeners can profoundly impact how their local urban landscapes are managed,” he says.

“I hope they’ll come away with the desire to grow or participate in growing some of their food for themselves and the realisation that that’s not actually a burden or a chore.

“With the incredible power of positive action, you can impact the world starting at your own back door or on a sunny kitchen window sill.”

Potted plants

Workshops will cover a range of sustainability topics, including potting. Photo: Ginninderry. Photo: Ginninderry.

Ginninderry’s Marcus Mills-Smith says there’s a big push towards sustainable living in the Territory.

“It’s there from all sides, whether government or the broader community,” he says.

“Ginninderry’s Strathnairn was Canberra’s first all-electric suburb and new gas connections across the region are being phased out with a push towards electrification, which is being supported by the government offering $15,000 interest-free loans to help people electrify their homes.

“It’s great to see this collective push towards a more sustainable way of living, and I hope people will find starting points and inspiration at the Festival this weekend.”

Ginninderry’s Inspire Festival takes place on Saturday, 15 April, from 10 am to 4 pm at Ginninderry GX Display Village. Register here.


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It’s Paul “Hey Maaate” West! I hope Paul’s cooking has branched out into more healthy and appetising foods. I come from the country and am not a vegan or a red meat opponent but am still trying to get my head around Paul and his good mate, mobile butcher and self-described “mad butcher” Matt, graphically and inhumanely slaughtering West family farm animals. Considered pets, the blokey Matt taunted the animals and drank one of the animals’ blood. Paul and Matt’s fine dining experiences from this so-called humour comprised all of the animal parts including livers, brains, kidneys and testicles.

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