Down a laneway in Ballarat is a hidden gem that inspires a true sense of community at its best.
Pip had recently seen a feature story on the ABC’s Gardening Australia about Ballarat’s Food is Free project. So, when arriving in Ballarat on our Victorian road trip, we were keen to check out the Food Is Free Laneway.
It was not the best day for a walk as it was bitterly cold, with the wind-chill factor making it difficult to walk because we were freezing. But we persevered and eventually found the Food Is Free Laneway.
We already knew from the Gardening Australia story that Ballarat resident Lou Ridsdale founded the Ballarat Food Is Free Laneway in October 2014. The laneway is adjacent to her home – at 305 Ripon Street South, near the corner of Ripon Street South and Warrior Place.
We also had foreknowledge about the purpose of the Food Is Free Laneway; that it is, as the name implies, about sharing food for free. People drop off their excess produce, which is accessible to everyone at no cost (except perhaps a chat with a neighbour). This sharing has gone a long way to building community interconnections and engagement.
Boxes and tables of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, donated by the public for people to take as they want, extended the length of the laneway. There were also drawers of seeds and excess pots and jars for the taking.
We didn’t meet Lou but chatted to the volunteer who was manning the laneway and keeping things in order. She told us that a team of volunteers help out at the site. This is important as people will want to drop off, for example eggs, but only fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs can be accepted.
The Food Is Free Laneway is a unique project for sustainably managing excess food, assisting those less advantaged, and building community through collaboration. It is a credit to Lou and the volunteers, who donate their time to this community initiative. It is also a credit to the Ballarat community who have embraced Food Is Free.
As we were leaving, a lady arrived to drop off some vegetables. We were off to find hot soup.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.
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