While it’s great to be able to grow and eat our own home-grown food, most of us still need to shop for produce beyond our own backyards. So how do you go about finding locally grown food near you? Nick Ray is the Project Co-Ordinator of Local Harvest, a website created to help answer that question. Launched in February 2012, Local Harvest ‘helps people find local and more sustainable food sources, and to become more connected with their food and the processes and faces behind it’. Currently it has over 2000 listees on their map. We spoke to Nick about the site, their one-week challenge and his own garden in Footscray, VIC.
Why did you start Local Harvest? The project came out of our work with the Ethical Consumer Group which involves educating people about the wider impacts of their everyday purchases. We soon realised that although there are ‘better choices’ within the supermarket and department store, the real answers are actually outside the industrial food (and production) system. We found lots of great alternatives around, however there was no resource that mapped them all together and allowed people to find what was close to them. Check out our video ‘A little Local Knowledge‘, a good introduction!
What’s the Local Harvest Challenge? Run in April, the Local Harvest Challenge is one week each year where people take on the challenge of eating more locally and being more connected with their food. You can read about people’s experiences here, and mine specifically, here.
What’s your passion? Seeing the connections between our food and the processes behind it. For me, I’m especially excited when I see waste transformed into food. I do love compost! Recently my 4 year old son and I have enjoyed our regular wheelbarrow ride through our neighbourhoods streets collecting leaf-mulch.
Do you currently grow your own food?: Yes, some. We live in a regular inner-city rental, yet have filled up the backyard and front with ‘growables’. Neighbours often come and chat over the fence about chickens and the amassing silverbeet.
Your favourite meal with food/produce straight from the garden?: Janet, my wife, says Basil, Tomato and Halomi (not our milk, but close); for me – the simple man – it’s a freshly-picked cob of corn and just-laid egg (poached).
Your biggest garden failure: We have guinea pigs which mow the lawn from within their movable cage, but they escaped about a year back and were free-ranging for a time. I thought this was fine, until I went to harvest the pumpkins. The undersides were almost completely eaten away!
Your favourite type of tomato: Roma – very versatile – makes it’s way into pasta, pizza, relish, tomato sauce, and the odd sandwich.
Find out more about Nick’s gardening adventures-of-late at his Local Harvest blog posts.