Bumper crowds explore alternative farming

More than just a boutique industry, alternative farming has become a global trend, with record crowds flocking to the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo over the weekend to learn all about it for themselves.

There were 22,000 visitors and 500 stallholders at the 26th annual expo, held at Kings Park in Seymour from Friday to Sunday, demonstrating the continuing growth in size and diversity of the event.

“Shining a spotlight on innovation, products and techniques in small and backyard farming, from both Seymour and Australia wide, there is nothing like the expo anywhere else,” Seymour Expo events manager Susie Filleti said.

“Not only does it cater for the best and the most fascinating in non-traditional farming, it also provides a fun day for families and those seeking a festival day out.

“The expo also provides an enormous economic and social impact for Seymour and the Mitchell Shire region, and the opportunity to showcase all the area has to offer.”

This year’s option of pre-purchasing tickets online, to gain a 17 per cent discount and save time queuing on the day, has proven popular.

“This has made a huge difference to people, allowing them to get so much more for their money,” Ms Filleti said.

“They get everything from demonstrations to entertaining animal shows, childrens activities to boutique food and beverages.”

Among the exhibitor highlights this year was special guest Paula Pownall from the Grubs Up Insect Farm, who provided insight into cricket consumption for both animals and humans.

“We saw that there was a new trend in farming with the crickets, and Grubs Up are the first in Australia to do it, so having them at the expo was a huge coup,” Ms Filleti said.

Innovation in farming took centre stage at the expo in a myriad of other ways. Popular exhibitor The Yield, an agriculture technology company, showcased their app called Sensing+ which converts data collected from on-farm sensors into a seven-day weather forecast.

“This is another example that is the very definition of alternative farming, by using new trends in technology to achieve better farming practices”, Ms Filleti said.

Visitors laughed, smiled and looked on in awe with the expo’s two stellar animal shows. The Pig Racing Australia Show saw pigs dive into pools of water and race one another with glee, while the Flipping Disc Dogz Show saw a team of Border Collies impress the crowd with tricks and stunts.

Skill and expertise were displayed in an impressive show with the 2018 AWPA Victorian Whipcracking and Australian Bullock Whip Championships, which were held for the first time at this year’s expo. Daniel Wicks (NSW) took out the Australian Bullock Whip Championships as well as the Men’s Victorian Whipcracking Championships.

Home-made, brewed, grown and crafted; some of the finest culinary delights were on display across the Farmers Market, Food Courts, and individual stallholders. In addition to the tastings and patrons sitting down to enjoy a meal, there were also some fascinating demonstrations in butchery and cooking – with the latter using ingredients from fellow stallholders.

“This year we placed a huge emphasis on creating that festival atmosphere and this was achieved through extensive food coverage,” Ms Filleti said.

“Tapping into the nation-wide food obsession, and featuring as much variety as possible, people could enjoy that real farm-to-fork experience at the expo.”

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