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Tasmania: recipe book project underway

Tasmania: recipe book project underway

Story and photos by Russ Grayson, June 2023

The days were cloudy, cold and wet but the food was really good. Our assignment to collect recipes and photograph community gardens and food preparation for the forthcoming community garden recipe book and website project — Flavours of Launceston — turned into something of a gastronomic weekend. 

Fiona and I were with Jo Dean, Tasmanian coordinator for Community Gardens Australia and project manager for 24 Carrot Gardens, the education and nutrition program in disadvantaged Tasmanian schools that are funded by Material Institute, a not-for-profit organisation linked with Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art—MONA. Jo is managing the recipe book and associated website project for Community Gardens Australia (CGA). Fiona Campbell is designing the book and developing the website, a job presently underway, and is one of CGA’s website volunteers.

Jo is a quietly-spoken woman with a history of working with community gardens and refugees, and at times organises Permaculture Design Course training in northern Tasmania. Her sense of organisation and her methodical manner make Jo the ideal person to manage the recipe book project. Fiona is a retired local government sustainability educator with a background in community education, food security in international development and book and website design.

A gastronomic weekend

City Seeds Community Garden

City Seeds Community Garden on the North Esk River floodplain at St Leonards was our first point of call. Here, Afghans, Fijians, Solomon Islanders and Australians manage a garden of raised beds growing a range of herbs and vegetables.

Like most community gardens, as well as food the garden yields social contact, communication and cooperation. Some Hazari women cooked an Afghani soup called Ash-e-reshte, which included vegetables from the community garden as well as noodles. People talked about plants and cooking as we sat eating the shared meal. 

Ravenswood Heights Primary School Community Garden

Our second garden visit was on the next day, Ravenswood Heights Primary School Community Garden is one of the 24 Carrot Gardens projects, a multi-ethnic garden of vegetable plots and raspberries, their canes are now deprived of leaves as the cold weather sets in.

This was another gastro-ethnic feast, a lunch cooked in the ground in an earth oven made early that morning by people from Fiji. Pork, chicken, fish and potatoes appeared as the oven was opened and steam gushed out. One of the cooks said that cooking takes about an hour in Fiji but in Tasmania’s colder climate, it takes two and a half hours. 

Inside the school building, we gathered around a table laden with the earth oven’s produce as well as vegetables and other foods prepared by the Fijians.

It was a convivial meal during which we recorded a short video interview with a man from the men’s shed (which also has female members) at M.A.C.S Community Garden, a large and well-ordered community garden beside a narrow stream located not all that far away.

Photo: Thomas Wood

A project underway

The two days we spent in Launceston mark the start of compiling recipes and food stories that will appear in the recipe book based on Launceston’s community and school gardens as well as on the website.

After the book is launched at AgriCULTURED in a couple of months, the website will be opened to any community garden in Australia that would like to contribute recipes and food stories. 

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