Since the 1970's when they started an intentional community called Compost in Thornbury, Gil and Meredith Freeman have left a trail of inspiration in their wake (that's them above). They're this two pronged unstoppable force for good, solving problems wherever they go with the good humoured power of resilient people based projects. As teachers in the 1970's they wanted to work outside the mainstream so they helped start the Sydney Road Community School. After the success of Sydney Road Meredith went inside the Education Department to work for curriculum change for all while Gil helped found our very own CERES; a place for children and adults to experience hands-on environmental education.
When they retired from the education sector in the 90's instead of European river cruising they began their agricultural phase. Shifting from Thornbury to Tarnuk, a ten acre property in the Strzeleckis, they pioneered cool climate bushfoods; growing warrigal greens, mountain pepper, lemon myrtle and bush mint. The local industry needed a focus so Gil and Mem brought other fledgling farmers together to found Prom Country Bushfoods Association.
On top of their bushfoods they also ran a small veggie box scheme for friends based around whatever they were growing on the farm that season. When demand started to outstrip what their garden and chooks could produce Gil and Mem brought Grow Lightly into being. Recruiting like-minded local growers, from the smallest backyard blueberry grower to large organic spud operations all within a 50km radius of Korumburra, they started a local business that is about so much more than feeding people. Helping 70 local farmers to sell an amazing array of produce, Gil and Meredith coordinate up to 40 volunteers to pitch in to pack the fruit, nut and veggie bags which are then sent out to pickup points in 8 different South Gippsland towns.
Gil and Meredith are now in their 70's and it seems like they are actually picking up the pace. A couple of months ago they turned Grow Lightly into a not-for-profit and opened the Grow Lightly Food Hub and Cafe next door to Coal Creek Heritage Village in Korumburra. When you walk in the door you can feel a welcoming, delicious and committed community at work here. So if you're heading down to South Gippsland any time soon, drop in for a coffee or a bowl of soup and stock up on some local produce. And while you're there say hi to these elders, these real local heroes. They'll tell you to stop making a fuss of them and cleverly distract you by letting you in on their next amazing project.
Grow Lightly is open Fridays to Sundays.
The sliding doors of oval autumnal fruits
I can't help smiling, every year it happens like clockwork. And this year it's been no different. As soon as Paul Haar says feijoa's are finished the phone rings and Ian Cummings is calling to talk kiwi fruit. Ian came in the other day looking very well now all his fruit is in. It looks like he'll have a couple of extra tonnes of fruit for us this season which is always great news as the fruit bowl starts to look a little low on variety at the end of winter. You'll find Ian's kiwis in the webshop and also in our set boxes this week.
Generous Cooks, Good Gut? Tell us what you reckon.....
Last week we launched the Generous Cook's Box and a few weeks before it was The Good Gut Box. What do you think so far? Let us know if we're on the right track or is there something we could do to make them better - email us here
Have a great long weekend
CERES Fair Food's weekly update with stories from our farmers and producers, Food Hosts, the Fair Food warehouse and theworld at large.