By Bonny Burrows
Affordable food accessible for all.
That’s the aim of a new initiative coming soon to Pakenham.
The Community Grocer is a not-for-profit weekly fruit and vegetable market, providing locals with fresh produce at a fraction of the cost of local supermarkets.
Currently operating across Melbourne’s northern suburbs, the initiative is headed to Cardinia Shire to equip locals with the knowledge and resources to make healthy choices.
Market manager Tamsin Hadfield said it was hoped that by offering low cost, healthy produce, it would help curb local obesity rates and increase food accessibility for even the most disadvantaged.
“There’s a bit of a problem with food insecurity in the area,” Ms Hadfield said.
“We’re looking to increase that access by making healthy food more affordable.
“Parents with not a lot of money tend to go for more calorie dense food as they perceive it to be cheaper.”
Launching on Thursday 1 March and continuing weekly at Living Learning Pakenham, the market is also zero-waste.
Consumers will need to bring their own shopping bags, while any leftover produce will be sold in surprise mixed boxes or donated to local community groups and not-for-profits for use.
Along with a desire to one day host cooking workshops, Ms Hadfield hopes to see the market grow into one that predominately featured local producers.
“Because Cardinia Shire is such a food bowl, we want to tap into local producers,” Ms Hadfield said.
“There’s such a variety of great, healthy produce being grown locally. We’re really trying to make it a market with all the best of Cardinia Shire.”
While still seeking more local producers to put their hand up and take part, Ms Hadfield said those approached had been “really, really keen”.
“There’s been lots of support. Everybody’s really quite excited about it actually,” she said.
The official launch kicks off on 1 March from 9am to 1pm at Living Learning Pakenham and will feature live music, face painting and a full range of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Local suppliers interested in taking part in the weekly market can email: email@example.com.