We’re cultivating community

Have you heard of Community Food For All? It’s an initiative bringing together people concerned about our food - who’s growing it, who’s selling it, how it’s eaten and who can’t afford it. 

The group began when a handful of locals wanted to know who was tracking and bringing together all food-related activities in our Rural City? So, they created a network to improve access to healthy and affordable food in Wangaratta and surrounding rural communities.

We’ve just had our Food Forum – lemme share the low down.

“It’s about building relationships” – according to Tony from Wangaratta Sustainability Network who has been doing exactly that by creating Waste Wise Wangaratta, an initiative focused on reducing and recycling plastic waste, organic waste, and food sharing. They also instigated a fruit fly control program and have been instrumental in the revitalisation of the Mullinmur Billabongs.

Not everyone can afford fresh food. Loretta at Open Door has been doing great work in this space to address the stigma attached to poverty and to tackle barriers that stop too many in our community accessing fresh food. For more people than you might first realise, there are hurdles to cooking food at home. First, you have to have the skills; you have to know how to cook. Next, you’ve gotta have the time. There’s no point getting free food if you don’t have the skills or the time to prepare and cook it.  Then you need the utensils and equipment.  Loretta works with our community to address this.

Mary from the Wangaratta Farmers Market was also part of the Food Forum. Her story centres on relationships too. In her case, its encouraging farmers to come to a market to sell their produce and then encouraging people to come to the market to buy that local produce. 

Clare from Gateway Health is busy in this space too. She’s mapping food grown and manufactured in our region to draft a local food action plan with the aim of ensuring local produce is accessible to all. On the ground level, Clare and her team are building relationships with older men, a cohort that often finds themselves having to cook but lack the skills and equipment. Hello, Gateway Health cooking classes.

Then there’s me - what am I doing on this panel? Well, I’m at the other end of the food spectrum. I’m a local business that endeavours to purchase local produce wherever I can.  So yes, I am building relationships too. With local farmers and food businesses, with my staff to ensure they can research recipes using local seasonal produce and develop them into meals, then learning to promote and sell these meals to customers.

Food needs to be available to all. If you’re aware of a food-related opportunity or challenge, tap into the network. If you’ve got an idea or are part of a local food initiative – and that might be a food swap, fruit and veg box, breakfast club – tap into our network. See our Facebook Page.