A SMALL crowd of green thumbs and flower fans, politicians, public servants, hospitality workers, members of the media, performers, public relations people and gardeners – famous and not so famous – gathered in Commonwealth Park’s temporary Cafe Valenti this morning surrounded by a sea of bright petals for the official launch of Floriade 2013.
Despite the chill in the air, there was a buzz of excitement as ABC journalist Virginia Haussegger enthusiastically opened proceedings on behalf of ACT Tourism and Events Minister Andrew Barr, who said it was “no surprise” that the annual floral festival has grown into the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
Haussegger then welcomed four of Floriade’s celebrity drawcards on stage for a short panel discussion that revolved around the overall theme of this year’s festival, “Beautiful Innovation”, and its four weekly sub-themes: “Smart Living”, “Future Style”, “Invention” and ”Contemporary Cultures”.
The ABC’s bearded organic gardening guru Costa Georgiadis said he was very happy to see Floriade “going heavy down the road of sustainability” this year, with a huge number of presentations on ideas for self-sufficiency in the suburbs.“Food and water are key issues facing our future,” Georgiadis pointed out, emphasising the importance of all members of society facing up to these two environmental “elephants in the room”.
“Masterchef” winner Julie Goodwin is here on behalf of Oxfam’s GROW campaign, which advocates ways to reduce world hunger through local actions.
“The GROW campaign is all about food security, and the fact that, you know, the world produces enough for everyone; the bad news is not everyone gets [to eat] it,” said Goodwin, explaining she would be cooking at Floriade using food rescued by the Yellow Van, which would otherwise otherwise be thrown away.
“What this is all about really is just getting us to rethink the fact that when you open the fridge something might not look as perfect as it did the day you bought it, [but that] doesn’t mean it goes into the landfill. You can still make beautiful food [with it]. It’s just about what we can do on the ground making small changes in our own daily lives that, in accord with everybody else, make massive changes for the planet.”
According to Oxfam, about 80 per cent of the 870 million starving people in the world are actually involved in the production of food, but still do not get enough to eat due to “changing weather patterns and a lack of access to resources like land, water and fertilisers”, as well as the operation of the globalised food industry.
“…wasting less food, using ingredients that were in season, cutting down on meat and dairy products, supporting small-scale farmers in poor countries, using Fairtrade products and saving energy in the kitchen … could all contribute to a fairer global food system,” according to the charity’s local campaign coordinator Debbie Hunt.
Goodwin agreed strongly with Georgiadis about the need for Australians to demand better food labelling, an issue which also grabbed the interest of ABC television presenter and DIY-expert Barry “Baz” Du Bois, who said he did not trust the food from supermarkets as much as the food from his own garden, due to inaccurate labelling.
At Floriade, Baz will be offering tips on do-it-yourself projects at home, which he said mainly came down to “confidence”.
“If you’ve got a smidgen of confidence and a bit of common sense, you can crack just about any project, I reckon,” Du Bois told the audience.
The fashion designer on the panel, Nicola Finetti, explained that when he designed clothes for women, he was often inspired by flowers.
In 2010, Finetti released the “Floriade Collection”, the name of which, just like the festival’s name, is derived from the latin word “Floriat”. He added that current fashion is going back to geometric patterns, which is a feature of some of the 2013 garden beds, in tribute to Canberra’s urban design.
“I think the ’60s is back, and then was the time of innovation in designing. Geometry is really [back] in fashion,” Finetti said, before the panel turned back to Costa Georgiadis, who compared his grubby boots to the designer’s far fancier footware, and had much of the audience in stitches with his off-beat, self-deprecating humour.
“You wouldn’t believe it, I can’t go anywhere without someone saying, ‘Oh man, I need some help with my hydro,’” he joked, before explaining the point behind his earlier shoe comparison – at Floriade, he will be demonstrating how old boots can become containers to grow herbs (the legal kind of course).
Floriade begins tomorrow, Saturday September 14. More information at floriadeaustralia.com