Ballarat’s Food is Free project is celebrating its second birthday with the best present of all – expanding and moving to Western Oval.
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While the project will retain its original Ripon Street site, it will essentially split in two. With the City of Ballarat’s help, it will also have a new home at the oval’s south-east corner at the Ripon and Urquhart street intersection.
The Food is Free concept came started in Austin, Texas, in 2012 with the idea of creating a community gardening movement that provides free vegetables and produce to not only the gardeners, but whoever needs it.
The project has gone from strength to strength since its Ballarat inception in October 2014, with the council offering the organisation a free, three-month trial at Western Oval earlier this year.
The new space will feature an edible vegetable patch thanks to a new partnership with LinkUp, which has recruited disengaged Ballarat Secondary College students to reconnect using the power of gardening.
“Partnering with sustainability teacher Liz Kelly at LinkUp makes so much sense and we are open to more community partnerships like this. LinkUp have donated a gardening bed enabling us to grow food along with the students and will be also donating water tanks to set up a space to demonstrate self-sufficiency,” founder Lou Ridsdale said.
“Moving to the Western Oval on a larger site will also give Food Is Free a real permanency and presence in Ballarat, not to mention safer access via allocated car parks, along with the benefit of better visibility with its location on a more prominent and accessible street corner.”
Ms Ridsale said now was the best time for a move, with summer harvests looming and the laneway receiving between 20 to 100 visitors each day, with 30 volunteers assisting.
“I particularly love the connections it’s forging in Ballarat, and to see it unfolding right outside my window has been magical to be part of. To expand over to the Western Oval is beyond my wildest dreams and certainly not something I envisaged during our humble beginnings.”
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