Cultivating Food Communities

Many communities, like ours in western Melbourne, are almost completely reliant on industrial agriculture to grow food; farmers would grow the food, harvest it and load it to carrier vehicles such as planes, trucks or ships where they are taken to distribution centres across the country before making its way to supermarkets to be purchased. 

Not only does this huge supply and demand chain negatively impact our world’s climate, food waste and global pollution levels, but it also has a direct effect on families and communities alike—a separation from experiencing and taking part in the growth and consumption of naturally grown foods in our own backyards. 

One element of our placemaking work in the City of Melton is bringing communities together to take greater responsibility for their food system. By educating communities on food waste, growing, cooking and preserving, we are hoping to strengthen and empower local neighbourhoods to grow healthy, chemical-free and nutrient-dense food right here where they live. 

In early 2021, our newest social enterprise, Eat Grow Garden, built a new veggie patch in a local Aintree early learning centre where my wife, Katie, also works in the Kinder room. It wasn’t a huge surprise for most of the staff to learn that many kids lacked basic knowledge about food. Some were unaware whether a tomato was a vegetable or if it was grown underground or even if it was an animal product! A great number of kids were also wary about eating (or even trying!) vegetables for lunch. However, a shift happened when the children learned how to grow food themselves. 

We held a workshop for the kids that taught them how to grow their own garden. Over the next month or two, Katie and her colleagues helped the 4-year-olds tend the garden by watering it and feeding it “worm-wee” from their worm farm. Together they learned the joys of tending a garden as well as learning about how plants use their roots to suck up water and nutrients in the soil. 

When it came time to eating salad wraps made with garden-grown lettuce, some non-veg eating kids went back for seconds and even third helpings! And even a bok-choy stir fry was met with wide eyes and open mouths.  

A similar community called Magic Harvest, has seen 20 gardeners join together to grow a winter garden at home through monthly educational workshops that taught them how to make the most out of a small space to grow vegetables and to compost for the very first time.

 Placemaking programs like these cultivate small food-growing communities in the neighbourhood. Kids are going home and teaching their parents about the joys of growing food naturally with some even encouraging their families to start their own gardens and adults are taking part by sharing their recipes with each other. 

Eat Grow Garden has an integral aspect of our placemaking in the community at Aintree, teaching people the joy of working together alongside their neighbour in creating a sustainable, local food system that cares for people, places, and our planet.

#ThanksforCaring spotlight

On 7 August 2021, Baptcare celebrated national Aged Care Employee Day with a spotlight on Sue from Westhaven Aged Care Community! 

This year’s theme #ThanksforCaring recognises each and every team member involved in caring for the 1.3 million older Australians receiving home care or residential care services. This includes nurses and personal care workers, allied health professionals, hospitality teams, drivers, cleaners, volunteers, lifestyle officers, administration staff and many, many others. 

 “The best part of working in aged care is that we can make a difference in a resident’s life every day,” Sue says. “Putting a smile on their face is a reward in itself. Being able to make the resident feel special, loved and cared for, is such a privilege.” 

Known as “one of our treasures” by the Westhaven Aged Care Community, Sue spreads much joy to the residents and staff alike with her warm, caring, fun and positive attitude. 

Whether you’re a carer, support worker, nurse, rosterer, case manager, chef, cleaner, receptionist, lifestyle co-ordinator or allied health professional – the Baptcare community and wider Baptist family are so grateful for all that you do. 

Rev Dave Harrison starts at Waverley Baptist Church

“You get a sense in your spirit that it’s time for a change. Often when you get that prompting, you’re the one that has to step out of the boat and make that change.”

Rev Dave Harrison was an associate pastor at Kingston City Church for ten years before a prompting from God last year led him and his wife Heather to step into a new season of leading the church at Waverley Baptist Church. 

Enthused by the prospect of leading Waverley into new heights in service, Rev Dave, along with the Waverley Baptist Church community prayed in earnest that the appointment is right for both him and the congregation as a whole. 

“When you step out, God always steps in,” Rev Dave said as he recalls the five occasions he’s met with the church leaders and how, prior to his appointment, it had all felt so right.  “Waverley felt like such an excellent fit and is ripe for this new season that God has in store.” 

One of ministries that Rev Dave is looking forward to the most at Waverley is working alongside the young adults of the church through mentorship and discipleship. Having experienced a life-changing event in his late teens when a man of God “stood in the gap” for him at a time when he really needed someone, Rev Dave is passionate about encouraging the younger generation to look beyond the current challenges and difficulties they’re facing and to instead, “make a difference, go the extra mile and sow into people’s lives”. 

“One of my strengths and something that I’m excited about is to mentor young people and to instil in them a self-belief and confidence in God that they too can step out and take risks [in ministry and mission] and that they should have high expectations for what God can do through them.” 

Rev Dave will start his appointment at Waverley Baptist Church next week!