Some time late last week I came home to find a flyer from a neighbour in my letterbox. She was inviting the residents of the street to participate in a local movement called #FoodIsFree. The idea is to leave any excess home grown produce (or any food really) outside your house, or in a prominent location like a bus stop, where people might pick it up and use it. This group started by leaving excess food in a laneway between two houses in a nearby street. The idea caught on with others and they decided to hold a #FoodIsFree Day this Saturday just gone. And that was what the flyer I received was promoting.
This could not have been timed better for me and my runaway zucchini plants, which are currently producing about 30 zucchinis a week. A darn sight more than we could use. I’ve been giving them away to family and friends, I’ve been making soup and zucchini slice like I’m planning to feed the army, and yet they keep coming.
So early Saturday morning I set up my little (or rather, going by the size of some of the zukes, BIG) contribution to #FoodIsFree day with my sign, bucket of zucchinis and a small tub of green beans. I was a little worried about it sitting out in the sun all day (it was rather hot for once) and on returning from a trip to the park I was a little worried to see that nothing had been taken. The concern was unwarranted because by about 4pm all but the colossal zucchini (that I was really hoping some little kid might insist on taking home so I didn’t have to deal with it myself) was gone.
I had a wander down the street to see if anyone else had put out their excess produce and came home with green capsicum, green chilli, basil, mint, one little but delicious peach and some plums. All from four houses in my street. And on the way home from doing the shopping this morning I stopped at the permanently appointed FoodIsFree Laneway Ballarat – which conveniently is located just near Miss Three’s kindergarten, I shall be stopping by regularly to leave or take produce. I collected some cooking apples (Miss Five will be rapt with some stewed apples for dessert), a few more plums (they don’t last long around here) and some nectarines.
Saturday was such a local success story, with over 100 participants, that the Ballarat Courier reported on it and there is now an established FoodIsFree day each month, on the first Sunday. That’s a sure fire way of spreading the zucchini love a bit further. And if we get a mild day I might even share some strawberries.
I’d love to hear about any acts of community spirit or generosity near you. Or why not start a food-sharing movement in your community. If you have lots of people walking by, place your excess out the front with a sign or leave it where people will find and appreciate it. It gives you a lovely gooey feeling somewhere inside to share with strangers.