The hot, dry month of October is fast becoming associated with one of Harare’s most exciting annual events – the traditional and organic seed and food festival. This year’s extravaganza is only one week away on Saturday 1st October. Entry is only $1 for adults and free for kids under 12 years and free combi transport will be available to and from Construction House (Park St), Bata (Mbuya Nehanda St) and Namibia Ivecos (4th St bus terminal).

As usual, the festival will be held at the Harare Botanical Gardens and organised by the tireless Traditional and Organic Food Forum team. The aim is to promote the traditional and organic foods among urban consumers and encourage consumption of healthy, nutritious local products, expanding the market for producers and processors.

The festival gives visitors a chance to see traditional ingredients prepared in modern ways that appeal to young, urban consumers. It gives producers and processors exposure to a dynamic market and promotes interaction between farmers, consumers, government officials and private companies. The festival has helped to facilitate discussion about barriers in marketing and consumption of traditional and organic food relating to costs, availability and preparation methods. It also presents a fun-filled family day-out that attracts more and more people each year.

Last year saw the introduction of a seed expo which allowed producers to showcase and exchange new varieties and encourage diversification of traditional crops. Also new last year was the pre festival “dialogue day” which helped producers to share ideas and experiences. Both of these components proved to be so popular that organisers are scaling them up in this years’ festival with over 20 seed sellers. Another bonus from last year was the production of the Eat well, Live well – Good Food booklet. This is the first Food Forum publication and will be on sale this year.

The 2016 event will be bigger and better with wide-ranging attractions including a morning kick off with exercise by Afro-Fit, the African Dance and Wellness movement and breakfast stalls selling porridges, pancakes, millet and sorghum baked products, Zimbabwean breakfast, granola with baobab powder, marula and mongongo nuts, puffed amaranth, dried masau.

Later in the day there will be lots of fun at the Kidzone including puppet shows of African folktales, traditional dance and music, games, cooking demos by children and stalls run by schools and educational organisations. There will also be cooking demos for adults and live music all day. The food court will be packed with stalls offering traditional African and modern cuisine including mopane worm and dried meat dishes, nyimo bean salads, baobab and rosella sorbets, Zumbani ice-tea, baobab cheesecake, Ethiopian, Senegalese, Congolese preparations with teff, beans, cassava, okra and plantains. As usual you will be able to stock up on all of your traditional and organic from over 50 stall-holders selling a wide range of products from across Zimbabwe including amaranth grain, baobab powder marula and mongongu nuts, herbal teas, Boschveld chickens, quails and dried fruit and vegetables.

So tell you family and friends, grab a basket and a hat and head down to the Botanical gardens for an unforgettable, proudly Zimbabwean experience.

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Anna Brazier

Anna Brazier is the editor of Naturally Zimbabwean. She was born in Zambia but has lived most of her life in Zimbabwe. She has a BSc in Ecology and an MSc in Sustainable Development and works as a consultant promoting sustainable agriculture, nutrition, traditional foods and community resilience in Africa and beyond. She lives in Harare with her husband and three children.