Contributing to Ballarat Businesses: Food Is Free

At Inspire HQ, we are big on supporting and giving back to the community in which we operate. We love to share our knowledge and contribute to building a better Ballarat and regional Victoria for everyone. You’ll often find our team members volunteering in the local community, as our team is made up of Ballarat locals and they’re invested in the community. Read about one of our clients we provide in-kind services to here.

In this week’s blog, I would like to introduce you to another one of our in-kind partners, Food Is Free.

Food Is Free exists to build community resilience and environmental awareness by providing education about living sustainably, growing and sharing fresh nutritious food.

Starting back in 2014 by founder/Director Lou Ridsdale, when she took over the laneway space beside her home to create a small instant guerilla garden. Her inspiration for the project came from John VanDeusen (founder of Food Is Free in USA) as well as Ron Finley and other guerilla gardeners. Soon after, Food Is Free Ballarat was born!

Our team recently went on an excursion to visit the Food Is Free Laneway and Green Space, receiving a tour from Lou who educated us about the great work Food Is Free does in the food security and sustainability space. Sharing her passion and dedication for this amazing community project, we had the opportunity to learn more about one of the clients we provide in-kind HR services to.

Greeted by a colourfully painted laneway, lined with veggie boxes and produce tables, the Laneway and Green Space are both very welcoming and inclusive areas.

A main purpose and incentive of the Laneway is that it enables gardeners not to waste their food and encourages healthy eating. The space is available for anyone to drop off, or collect free nutritious food (veggies, fruit and herbs) at absolutely no cost and no questions asked.

People can also leave things like recycled bottles and jars (for pickling, preserves and fermenting) and garden pots to give you the helping hand to start your own garden along with a seedling stand and a seeds toolbox. The laneway has its own street library filled with books you can read and exchange for cooking, gardening and self-help books.

Food Is Free had the opportunity to expand in 2019, which allowed the launch of their Green Space, located a short walk from the Laneway. The Green Space is purpose-built with 40+ garden beds for all to enjoy. Anyone is welcome to pick food from this space at any time; the space is accessible 24/7, 365 days of the year. Education is at the very core of all they do. The Green Space is where they run classes and workshops for people of all ages and all levels, from amateur gardeners to experienced green thumbs.

Their Green Recycle Depot allows for people to drop off their kitchen scraps into their compost bins, or shredded paper, egg cartons and toilet rolls which aid in the composting process.

We were amazed to hear that the laneway receives over 100 visitors per day and currently has 80 volunteers. With many visiting to connect with like-minded people, over the love of fresh food, or to pay it forward with food for others.

To date, Inspire HQ’s in-kind services to Food Is Free includes being a go-to source for people advice and support to help Food Is Free achieve their goals and objectives. Personally, I am pleased to have worked closely with Food Is Free to help them employ their first employee, prepare an employment contract and position description along with policies and procedures to ensure a genuine employment arrangement.

Inspire HQ is proud to be able to provide in-kind services to Food Is Free and help them make a meaningful impact in the Ballarat community.

Food Is Free relies on the generosity of the community to sustain itself, so if you are in a position to support or would like to learn more about Food Is Free, feel free to reach out for more information or check out their website here.

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