#FoodIsFree – a local initiative

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 know, my sign needs work.  I'll get Miss Five onto it next time.

I know, my sign needs work. I’ll get Miss Five onto it next time.

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.

photo (27)

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.

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8 Responses to #FoodIsFree – a local initiative

  1. potentialpsych says:

    Oh I just heard about this on Sunday. We have a pear tree in our back yard (new house) that will shortly deliver hundreds of pears. I will be depositing pears at the Laneway and definitely participating next month. Thanks for the news! x

    • Barbara Good says:

      Yum, pears!! I have a pear tree out the fron (only a year and a bit old) that isn’t looking like fruiting anytime soon. I hope one day I’ll have an abundance, but until then I might stop past the laneway and pick up some of yours! It is a terrific idea isn’t it.

  2. Erica says:

    What a fabulous idea! Hope it grows and grows.

  3. schoolofmum says:

    Gosh I love Ballarat. What a beautiful thing. I had seen this initiative but didn’t know how it went. So glad it’s going to turn into a regular thing now!

  4. What a brilliant initiative. I know at the end of our street there was a tray of free food left outside the carravan park which helped provide fresh food to the residents there. Sadly it disappeared a few months ago. I’m not sure what happened. I also love Ripe Near Me which allows you to list free food, excess food for sale, come pick your own or even reporting local “wild” food around the traps such as a choko vine growing over a suburban train station or wild harvest apples around town. 🙂

  5. Looking to start this in Golden, CO — Did you have any issues with food going bad or not getting grabbed? Just figuring out all the logistics.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Hi Tim, great to hear you’re thinking about starting something like this in your area. I’ve asked the two people who operate the stalls closest to me about food spoilage. Generally speaking they said that yes some food does spoil but that goes into compost or to chickens so is still used for food production so to speak. They are also pretty quick to let people know what’s been left at the stall (especially if it’s a big haul of plums/apples/pears/nectarines etc) so people know to come a pick it up. Being somewhere lots of people walk past helps too. Hope that helps you get your head around starting one up. I’d love to hear/see how it goes.

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