Fresh food markets an initiative for local communities

CULTIVATING COMMUNITY’S FRESH FOOD MARKETS are tenant run, not-for-profit initiatives that aim to increase access to fresh, in season and affordable produce for the tenants of the Fitzroy and Collingwood public housing estates as well as wider communities addressing issues of food insecurity and social isolation.

The project aims to assist information exchange and to be a training ground for tenants, a place where they can build skills in everything from English expression to retail, business to community development.

The project also aims to break down some of the barriers between the wider community and public housing communities. The market has volunteers from cultural groups including Vietnamese, Chinese, Pakistani, Greek and Sudanese.

Why a market?

The idea for this project follows the identification of food security as a major issue in the Collingwood and Fitzroy public housing communities, with many tenants in the most vulnerable food insecurity categories. In the Collingwood and Fitzroy areas, there is only one local supermarket where produce is often expensive and of poor quality.

The project has been running since 2004, initially supported by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Fitzroy Office of Housing. Funding ran out in December 2005 and the project is currently being run solely by volunteers.

How it works

Food for the markets is purchased at the Footscray Wholesale Market by the buyer who shops for the CERES Market in East Brunswick. This in-kind contribution is invaluable.

Although the aim of the project is to supply the cheapest produce possible, an emphasis is also placed on quality and sustainability, so the food is bought when it is in season and with an as-local-as-possible ethic.

Some produce is sourced directly from a farmer in the Southern Grampians who heard about the project and wanted to be involved. Other produce is grown for the markets at the Richmond Fellowship’s Sprout Supported Community Garden project in Thornbury.

The produce is then dropped off at the estate where tenant volunteers set up the shop.
Each volunteer takes home a $10 box of produce to reward their efforts.

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