By GWEN HARPER*
AFTER many months of planning the Spring Food Festival sprang into life at the Gagebrook Community Centre last month. The idea for the festival was to raise awareness of healthy food options, the profile of Waterbridge Food Co-op and launch the 24 Carrot/Community Blitz ‘My Vegi Patch’ project. Festival goers were tempted with a variety of delicious healthy food options and by 1000s of vegetable seeds, seedlings and kitchen garden plants on offer.
For the festival organisers, Waterbridge Food Co-op, Centacare Evolve Housing, MONA 24 Carrot Gardens and Community Blitz, they were delighted that more than 450 people showed up on the day. The fact that so many people turned up to support our Festival is a great tribute to the organisations that helped make it happen – Jordan River Service, Vinnies Growth Centre, Loui’s Van, Youth off the Streets, Red Cross, tagari lia, Colony 47, the list goes on. It was an amazing example of what can be done when so many organisations come together.
A major drawcard for the festival were the door prizes with 10 ‘My Vegi Patch’ kitchen garden kits were won throughout the day. ‘My Vegi Patch’ kits consist of an apple crate garden bed, soil, edible seedlings and gardening equipment, all designed to make growing edible food at home easy, attractive and fun for families. ‘My Vegi Patch’ runs in conjunction with the MONA 24 Carrot Garden program at Gagebrook Primary, Herdsman’s Cove Primary and East Derwent Primary Schools, is funded by Community Blitz, and supported by the local community centres and Vinnies Growth Centre. There are 50 kitchen garden kits in total so expect to see them popping up all over the place!
Another runaway festival success was the cooking demonstrations hosted by MONA Chef Tony Carruthers. His healthy ‘cook once, eat twice’ recipes were a real hit with the audiences, and his three recipes can be found on www.waterbridgefood.org/kitchen/. Kids and adults alike also loved Snakes Alive, Mrs Posie Flowers, face painting and the balloon artist in the Children’s Entertainment zone.
The weather was perfect for showcasing gardening focused businesses and organisations. Waterbridge, Tasmanian Horticultural and Landscape Supplies and Jordan River Learning Federation Farm School all ran gardening demonstrations to show how easy it is to grow a kitchen garden at home. But it was the healthy food on offer that wowed so many festival goers, with two gourmet food vans, Big Henry’s Food Truck and Sip & Spoon, tempting everyone with sweet potato fries, spicy fried broccoli popcorn and delicious, guilt free smoothies and desserts. Herdsman’s Cove Primary also cooked delicious, healthy barbecue burgers containing lots of ‘hidden vegetables’ and were the first food stall to sell out!
The Waterbridge Pantry saw a large amount of visitors enjoying their cheap fresh fruit and vegetables, with many people visiting the Pantry for the first time. ‘I didn’t realise you were here!’ was a common comment, with many more delighted to discover that the pantry sells fresh produce and frozen meals at below supermarket prices. “We were thrilled to see so many new faces,” said Natasha Turner, Waterbridge pantry officer. “It’s local people coming to our pantry that will keep our Food Co-op open after grant funding ceases next June.”
The Pantry is part of Waterbridge Food Co-op, who also run gardening and cooking programs for local community members. Community Blitz and Waterbridge Food Co-op is funded by the Australian Government through Primary Health Tasmania. For more information on their projects, events and activities and an overview of their partners visit www.waterbridgefood.org or www.communityblitz.org.au