Sharing is caring through the Food Is Free movement with “tables” of produce setup around the Illawarra, ripe for the taking.
You don’t have to subscribe or pay to join, the movement is simply about offloading excess produce from people’s home gardens and eliminating waste.
“I just feel as though any wastage is such a shame,” co-founder Cath Chisholm said.
“I grew up on a farm, and we would just use everything ... there is also a bit of a move towards noticing your waste and trying to reduce your waste.”
Ms Chisholm and Tessha Mearing began the Illawarra initiative after hearing about a similar project run elsewhere in Australia and overseas, but which had more of a focus on community gardens.
The local contingent has a network of tables from Fairy Meadow down to Dapto, where people with garden surplus (like fruit, veggies, herbs, eggs, seeds, worm castings, jams, seedlings and cuttings) can drop them off.
People leaving surplus produce upload a photo of the goods to the Facebook group to let its 1,800+ members know what they can get and which table to find it.
As backyard gardeners you tend to put in more than what you need in case half of it dies.Cath Chisholm
The tables are non-intrusive so you don’t need to feel bad about walking up to someone’s porch and grabbing an apple.
“It was Tessha’s idea but we were both complaining about how we had a glut of [food] at the time,” Ms Chisholm said.
“As backyard gardeners you tend to put in more than what you need in case half of it dies … and then you end up with more than you really need, and it’s such a waste chucking it in the compost.”
The last year’s drought has affected many of the group’s home gardens, she said, with less produce available.
However, Ms Chisholm maintained that regardless of how much free food was available, it was a great way to enjoy organic food in an affordable manner.
You don’t need to leave food to be able to take some, though swapping is welcomed.
Tables can be found in Fairy Meadow, Port Kembla, Figtree, Dapto, Thirroul, Farmborough Heights and Balgownie – with hopes to expand into other areas so the whole region can share.
To find out more information on the movement, join the Facebook group Food Is Free Illawarra - Homegrown produce sharing.