September is all about back-to-school but there’s no reason why the grown-ups can’t get stuck in and learn something new! At Toby’s Harvest Festival at Forde Abbey on 15th and 16th September there are oodles of opportunities to learn from the experts, gardeners, chefs, craftspeople and even circus folk!
Storm-in-a-Teacup is bringing her rustic Knitting Tent where you can learn to knit and crochet or weave a simple friendship bracelet in the cosy yurt surroundings, while Wivey Weaver is bringing her spinning wheel showing how the yarn gets made in the first place. In the Artisan Marquee Dartmoor artist Bee Watson from WildHive will be teaching how to make realistic flowers, like cosmos, perfect as they never die or need dead-heading (from paper for ages 11-plus) while Georgie Newbery from Somerset Nursery Common Farm Flowers is in the Demo Tipi showing how to make a hand-tied bouquet from real flowers you have sown and grown in your own garden.
For anyone wishing to improve their gardening skills, Dorset trainer Chris Riley of Pratensis will be on the East Lawn demonstrating how to manage long grass the traditional, fossil-fuel free way using a scythe and selling a range of scythes to use at home, ideal for managing meadows and difficult to access banks. Alys Fowler will be explaining the art of fermenting and Matt Biggs is all about veg and improving your harvest. As instagrammers and garden snappers know, getting the perfect shot of your garden can prove elusive so award-winning Bristol photographer Andrew Maybury is leading twice-daily workshops, explaining technique, lighting and composition.
If your lettuces have bolted in the hot summer, Chris Onions and Ashley Wheeler from Dorset’s organic Trill Farm have tasty ideas for sowing, growing and cooking with gluts and veg crops. For the sweet-toothed, Lillie O’Brien from the London Borough of Jam is bringing her jam pan and explaining how to perfect conserves that are heavy on the fruit and low on the sugar, while Bunnies Love are running an all-day jam surgery on Saturday should you need some advice on improving your pickles and preserves.
The Higher Beings are back with their Circus Skills workshop, so you can have a go at tight-roping, hang upside down from the aerial loop and take to stilt-walking. Finally, don’t forget to bring your windfalls and make juice courtesy of the Pomona apple press or on Vigo Presses’ stand on the East Lawn, you can try your hand not just at crushing and pressing your fruit and berries but drying and steaming too.
It’s going to be a packed couple of days – don’t forget your notebook!