IncrEdibles festival at Kew Gardens - a voyage through surprising edible plants in the summer and autumn of 2013
From 25 May to 3 November 2013
Kew's IncrEdibles festival presented a voyage through the world of edible plants from which we get our food and drink, featuring a range of attractions as well as an exciting programme of activities and artistic installations. The festival was in two parts, the main summer phase from May to September, then an autumn phase through to early November.
Tutti Frutti Boating Experience with Bompas & Parr
Bompas & Parr transformed Kew's Palm House Pond into a giant fruit salad boating lake and participatory artwork, the centrepiece of which was a floating pineapple island, a symbol of Kew’s extensive bromeliad collection.
It was also a rare opportunity to go boating on the Palm House pond and enjoy the iconic building from a whole new perspective!
The IncrEdibles festival featured a number of attractions which combined striking visual impact and design with information about the world's edible plants. They included:
- Tom Hare's Fungi Fairy Ring - 21 giant sculptures of seven species of fungus created from sinuous lines of woven willow.
- The Global Kitchen Garden - featured over 90 edible plants from every corner of the globe. Two semi-circular inner beds were dedicated to herbs while five outer beds represented different regions of the world including South America, West Asia and Europe. Grapes, pomegranate and olive trees were planted in a circular design and beautiful arches planted with climbers made this a stunning space to explore.
- The Rose Garden Tea Party - Kew’s tea party where a variety of edible plants grew out of plates, cups, teapots, dishes, jugs and platters. Interactive riddles gave visitors the chance to guess what ingredients are needed to go into their favourite treats.
- Palm House: The Tropical Larder - visitors to the Palm House, home to 60 edible plants, learned just how many of the everyday foods we eat have their roots in the rainforest, with volunteer guides on hand at weekends to hold IncrEdible hands-on sessions.
- The Vegetable Medley - an edible display including aubergine, cabbage, and brussel sprouts.
The festival featured many events and activities designed especially for children, many located at Kew's popular Munchbox venue, including:
- Tasty Plant Trail - a cunning trail around the Gardens designed to help children identify edible plants and get points at the same time!
- Face Painting at Climber and Creepers - children could have their faces painted a delicious IncrEdibles-inspired design.
- Fungi Fun - children were encouraged to carry out scientific experiments on fungi, or design and make their own artificial fungi from various materials.
- Hands-on with Magical Mushrooms - kids could discover the secret world of mycelium (the root system of mushrooms) as revealed by a specially designed glass tank.
Talks and events
Throughout the festival there was a wide variety of events, hands-on sessions, demonstrations and talks on the theme of edible plants, including:
- Georgian cookery demonstrations were held near Kew Palace - visitors could join the cooks as they prepared food for King George III and his family.
- Weekend advice sessions run by horticulture students -gardeners could ask about how to grow the many varieties of edible plant the students were cultivating in their vegetable beds.
- Global Kitchen Demonstrations - chefs from the UK’s top mobile cookery school, Kitchen Academy, held free drop-in demos, using recipes inspired by Kew’s Global Kitchen Garden.
- 'Coffee: From Crop to Cup' by Dr Aaron Davis - the science, conservation and consumerism behind our daily beverage.
- 'Vegetable Growing for Novices' a talk by Christine Lavelle - aimed at new allotment holders or those just starting a vegetable patch.
- 'From Maize to Mungongo: Kew and Food Security in the 21st Century' - a talk about Kew's work in food security by Dr Paul Smith.
- ‘Palatable Plant’ tours - visitors were taken by volunteer guides on a tour of festival attractions to gain a unique insight into edible plants from all round the world.
- 'Is our daily cup of coffee under threat?' - a video and infographic in the Princess of Wales Conservatory explained the growing threat to coffea arabica, one of the main ingredients in coffee.
- International Garden Photographer of the Year competition winners exhibition in the Nash Conservatory - on the theme of 'Bountiful Earth'.
- The BarrowBand - this fun folk troupe performed songs from their recent album Vegetables and Fruit, featuring an all-singing, all-dancing fruit and veg barrow!
Autumn IncrEdibles: pumpkins and fungi
As we entered autumn, the IncrEdibles festival launched a new set of attractions, events and activities based on two staples of the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness: pumpkins and fungi.
- Pumpkin Pyramid - The Waterlily House was transformed into Pumpkin Central, dominated by a towering pyramid of pumpkins rising 4 metres up out of the pond, but also featuring imaginatively carved and decorated pumpkins and a profusion of pumpkin recipes.
- Pumpkin Parade - Kew's Broadwalk was lined with beds growing hundreds of pumpkins, gourds and squashes, from the traditional-looking Gold Fever variety (Cucurbita pepo) to the pale floral Moonbeam (Cucurbita pepo) and the aptly-titled Turk’s turban (Cucurbita maxima).
- Pumpkin carving - demonstrations of the fine art of carving and decorating pumpkins from master carver Tony Finch.
- A behind-the-scenes tour of Kew's Fungarium - to celebrate National Fungus Day and offer visitors a rare sight of the largest collection of dried fungi in the world.
- Fungi Foray - a tour of the Gardens looking for fascinating fungi in the company of mycology experts Brian Spooner and Alick Henrici.
- Fungi Stroll and Soup - a guided walk around the Gardens with hints and tips on identifying a variety of mushrooms and toadstools led by mycologist Dr Martyn Ainsworth.
- 'The Hidden Kingdom: Britain's Amazing Fungi' - a talk given by Geoffrey Kibby on the vital role in our lives played by Britain's 4,000+ fungi species.
Throughout the festival Peyton and Byrne, our award-winning caterers, cooked up an IncrEdibles storm using freshly foraged ingredients, some of which could be found growing in the Gardens.
Each of Kew's four restaurants and cafes offered wide selections of freshly prepared and delicious dishes of the season.
In summer this included 'Barbeque and beer' - in the beautiful setting of the Pavilion, Peyton and Byrne offered visitors barbequed free range chicken served with chilli sauces inspired by the chilli plants grown in Kew, accompanied by hearty sides including coleslaw with a twist and a summer salad, all washed down with ales, beers and ciders from Craft breweries around the country.
On hot summer days the White Peaks Ice-Creamery offered handmade ice creams, ices and frozen yoghurts made with 100% natural ingredients using only British milk and creams and berries, herbs and flowers all sourced locally.
As the nights began to draw in, highlights of the autumn menus included butternut squash, rainbow chard and ricotta lasagne or light pickled wild mushroom and shaved berkswell tart!
Where are Kew's restaurants and cafes? Locations for our four eateries: The Orangery, The Pavilion, Victoria Plaza cafe and White Peaks cafe.
The festival featured an exciting range of IncrEdibles-inspired products, from local jams to gardening kits in our two shops at Victoria Plaza and White Peaks.
We recommend: Kew's Global Kitchen Cookbook, 101 edible plant recipes with each chapter covering a different continent's unique edible flora and beautiful botanical paintings from Kew's archive of historical illustrations.
Buy now at a limited special price of £10.00 (RRP £14.95)
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