FIF Frankston's photo

Food is Free Tecoma launch – October 25

FIF Frankston's photo

Photo courtesy of FIF Frankston


‘Food Is Free’ is an international food movement towards food security for all. It started as a simple community garden in Austin Texas January 2012 and grew into a worldwide movement now involving over 350 cities.

The concept is simple – with an excess of food from home gardens or from bought produce, no single person should be without healthy food.

Food Is Free Tecoma is a community initiative and collaboration between Tecoma Uniting Church and The Hills Food Frontier, assisted with funding from the Shire of Yarra Ranges. The aim is to reach out into the local community to provide a source of free, healthy, and where possible, organic foods.

Food will be stored at Tecoma Uniting Church, 1566 Burwood Hwy, in a Coolgardie safe. Space will also be provided for dry goods and other items.

Community members will be encouraged to leave any surplus fruit, vegetables, herbs, seedlings and seeds, and dry goods, and/or take what they need.

Ballarat and Bendigo cities are now both hosting ‘Food is Free’ in laneways and the concept has become increasingly well known.

The FIFT project will be officially launched on Sunday October 25th at 1pm at Tecoma Uniting Church as part of Fair Food Week. Lyster Ward Councillor Mike Clarke will be present.

Everyone is welcome. Come along to find out how to make a straw bale garden and ways to improve your soil. Show your support for Food is Free Projects in the Hills. Bring your children and experience ‘Nature Story Telling’ or let them play in the garden playground. Real Food Cafe Tecoma will provide us with a healthy afternoon tea.

For further information about the project and movement see:

Food is free Tecoma flyer

Burrinja logo

The Storehouse Mt Evelyn

Local is the new black

The Storehouse Mt EvelynThe Storehouse Mt Evelyn

Post by Amy Middleton.

Graeme and Jacqueline opened The Storehouse in Mt Evelyn only a few weeks ago with the purpose of giving the ‘little guy a leg up’. By ensuring that all produce is sourced locally and stocking artisan wears of local makers, this husband and wife team seems to have created a little hub of wholesomeness.

The storehouse produce

The Storehouse sells a wide range of self serve bulk wholefoods, including flours, seeds, nuts and dried fruits. They also have a good collection of sustainable living personal and household products. Locally roasted coffee from Capulus Roastery makes the perfect companion for the cakes and muffins baked down the road by Mel McGregor from Sweet Feast. All the fresh produce used by the cafe is supplied by Organic Empire a few kilometers away. You will find original artworks hung on the walls and the curious terrariums from Little Lands in Monbulk delight the solid timber tables crafted by Jayden Lucas, who also happens to be member of the family. Needless to say ‘local is the new black’ and this pair have style!

The Storehouse Mt Evelyn The Storehouse Mt Evelyn

The Storehouse has a really relaxed atmosphere and as I stood back to watch Graeme and his Dad have an arm wrestle over the counter, it gave me that ‘feel good feeling’ to see a group of people having fun, whilst looking after the little guys.

Oh, and if selling organic and locally sourced goods wasn’t doing enough to encourage a healthy lifestyle, they also have some exercise equipment out the back. If you can do 30 pull-ups without stopping… you’ll win yourself a free coffee!

For more info head to their Facebook page, or pop in for a cuppa.

The Storehouse Mt Evelyn

Burrinja logo

The Hills Food Frontier – a community inspired good food project.

Food Frontier2Food frontier

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.

Food-frontier-collage food frontier1

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

Food frontier5

Photos courtesy of the Hills Food Frontier facebook page promoting local food producers.


Food? Culture? Community? YES PLEASE!

Post by Amy Middleton.

When I meet someone who is passionate about art and food, I know I am onto a good thing. Add calm confidence and an ethical conscience and I have to write about them!

Daniel Rigos is both an artist in the Hills, and the head Chef at Lentil as Anything at Abbotsford Convent. Lentil as Anything is a unique not for profit community organisation where customers are encouraged to ‘pay as they feel’ for the food they eat. Customers give what they feel the food is worth and have the opportunity to contribute towards a world where respect, generosity, trust, equality, freedom and kindness rule. (Preach it!) As well as creating amazing food, Lentil is involved in a number of community projects that bring food, community and culture together. Whilst Lentil welcomes donations and relies on their volunteers to maintain a sustainable model, it is also a very well run business that attracts great chef’s and produces an incredible fusion of Indian, Asian and middle Eastern food.

Daniel joined the Lentil team three years ago after traveling the world. He arrived back in Melbourne, needed a job and the rest is history. As well as being a generous hearted chef, Daniel is also an artist. His paintings draw inspiration from the landscape, they blend together elements of impressionism, abstraction and the surreal. His painting process is fluid and dynamic, as the paint is built up slowly in numerous subtle glazes. Life in the kitchen can be chaotic and Daniel described his studio practise as a way to slow down and be in control. When talking about living a balanced life Daniel said, “I love the freedom a creative life gives me. Every day is different and that is important to me.”

For those of you who feel inspired to create a delish treat, Daniel has shared one of his favourite recipes with us…. Yummy!

South Indian Coconut Chutney
This chutney is usually served with South Indian and Sri Lankan breakfasts such as dosas (savoury fermented rice and lentil crepes) or idlis (fermented and steamed rice dumplings).

2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander (including roots), washed really well to get rid of dirt
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 inch ginger, roughly chopped
1/4 medium onion, roughly chopped
1-2 fresh green chilli, roughly chopped
Spice powder
1 tsp split urid dal
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
Tempering spices
1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Dash of hing (asafoetida)

Soak coconut with water until just covered by water (it will absorb all the water in about 10 minutes)

Put the urid dal in a small pan and toast until it has turned a pinkish brown colour. Take out and toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant. Blend in a spice grinder or coffee grinder until totally smooth.

Using a blender, blend this spice powder with the soaked coconut, coriander, garlic, ginger, onion, chilli and a little salt until well blended. Add a little more water to help the blending if necessary.

In a small pan heat the coconut oil or ghee until hot. Add the mustard seeds and cook for about 15 seconds – they should splutter if the oil is hot enough. Once spluttering add the cumin seeds and the curry leaves and cook for another 15 seconds. Add the hing and then immediately tip the oil into the blended chutney.

Season the chutney to taste with salt and lemon juice. It should be strong and flavoursome and very lemony.

Note: You can omit the spice powder if you are in a hurry or don’t have a spice grinder.

To see more of Daniel’s work head to, or meet him in person at the Dandenong Ranges Open Studios on the 3rd and 4th of May.