Dig In! Food and Farming Festival returns to celebrate local food, farms and gardens with films, classes, an information and vendor fair, seed-swap, tastings and more. The now annual festival is organized as a grassroots community event to encourage, inspire, involve and educate people about local food systems. The event attracted well over 600 participants in 2012. This year Dig In! is bringing Brad Lancaster of Tucson, Ariz. to town as their first keynote presenter. At his home on a city lot in arid Tucson, Lancaster has created an edible urban oasis in the desert by harvesting over 100,000 gallons of rainwater. Lancaster transforms the water harvest into food-bearing shade trees, abundant gardens, and a thriving landscape that includes habitat for wildlife. Lancaster’s model not only increases local food availability and creates beautiful and functional landscapes, but it eases pressure on city storm-runoff systems as well as prevents pollution of nearby streams and rivers.
“Brad’s message is timely as Northwest Arkansas has faced severe drought in recent years that was very tough on local gardens and farms,” says Leigh Wilkerson, founder and class coordinator for the Dig In! festival. “He teaches that far beyond the capacity of rain barrels and tanks, the ultimate cache for rainwater is the soil and plants. We can create landscapes that harvest their own water,” Wilkerson says.
Lancaster is the author of the best-selling, award-winning books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volumes 1 and 2. Dig In! will open to the public on Thursday afternoon with an after-school film and activities (details to come) for children and their parents.
Thursday evening continues with a documentary film kickoff. “Farmer Friday” will offer morning sessions for farmers and experienced gardeners and an afternoon workshop with Brad Lancaster tailored for this audience. Friday evening will include a reception for festival supporters as well as films for the public. All-day Saturday will be jam-packed with classes, roundtable discussions, seed swaps, food tastings and an information and vendor fair. Lancaster will speak again in the public keynote on Saturday afternoon. Saturday evening the festival will close with a special documentary film. Festival planning is still underway. Updates and details are being posted at www.diginfestival.com.
The third annual Dig In! will be held at the University of Arkansas Global Campus, 2 E. Center St., Feb. 28 through March 2. Dig In! is a nonprofit community endeavor funded by donations. Classes and films are offered by donation, with $5 suggested per session attended, the Information fair and seed swap are free. Daily and Weekend passes for supporters will be available on the website and at the door. Farmer Friday is a separate ticketed event.