Post by Adriana Alvarez.
Ever since Maccas has come to Tecoma a lot of emotion, debate and activity has been stirred in our community. And it’s not just the protest against Maccas which has gathered a great swell of support, the rumblings from all parts of the community are being heard. The fight, which is still raging, has given us cause to think about the things that are important to our community and unique culture. None more important than around the concept of the food we all consume, which has become a hot topic of debate worldwide.
Enter Holly Desmond, Laura Spirt and Shakti McLaren with The Hills Food Frontier. It was started when the proposal for Jamie Oliver’s ‘pop up kitchen’ competition was won by somebody else. The campaign to win Jamie Oliver’s competition was very strong, it had an incredible wave of support in the Hills from schools, businesses and volunteers, including a kitchen space offered for the project by Burrinja. “It had such an incredible groundswell of interest” says Shakti, who had seen the success of pop up kitchens before and knew it could work here as well. “After losing the competition, we decided we can’t loose this momentum, we have to keep it going.”
“We want to inspire the people in the towns and villages of The Dandenongs to grow, cook, share and learn about good food” adds Holly Desmond one of the founders. These three local women have joined forces to head this project, between them they have a knowledge of health promotion, community development and IT skills and hope to harness the support of local people and businesses in their vision for the Hills. “We want to increase promotion of projects and businesses that provide good food options and strengthen good food activities in The Hills.”
The Hills Food Frontier believes that good food is nutritious, wholesome, affordable and where possible grown ethically by local farmers and producers. It’s about advocating the best food options for people, this invisible ‘Frontier’ has been created around The Hills community, to ensure that local good food is readily available, sustainable and promoted to locals and tourists alike.
Picture a food forest planted on public land where all the produce is available to locals, or a seasonal slow food long lunch, a weekly farmers market, or kitchen gardens flourishing in all schools. Sharing, growing and cooking food is a way to promote social connection and these women are passionate about bringing people together.
“We all love food, we cook together, Holly taught us how to make gnocchi one day” says Shakti. It occurred to them that ideas like this, simple cooking, learning techniques in ‘pop up’ kitchens could catch on. “There are many people in The Hills who eat alone or don’t have the skills to grow and cook food, we want to develop a way for these people to get together.”
A gathering to discuss ideas with the local community will be held on Sunday 18th May at The Burrinja Cultural Centre, Blackbox Theatre, Glenfern Road Upwey. Because they are all about good food, they are asking people to bring a plate to share at 12.30 with proceedings starting at 1pm. The meeting is a starting point for ideas, to find a couple of activities that the community can work with, as this will be a community driven project.
“We should be greatful to Maccas for getting people to connect” says Shakti. “A lot of good things are coming out of it. It’s liberating to see what has come out of it. That makes us unique because nowhere else in the world would have had that response.” Before Maccas got us all thinking, this debate about good food would not have been so rich and it’s certainly a conversation worth having.
For more information go to the Hills Food frontier Facebook to leave your ideas or a message if you can’t make it to the meeting. Or call Shakti Mclaren on 0416 149 776 or Holly Desmond on 0407 319 916
Photos courtesy of the Hills Food Frontier facebook page promoting local food producers.