ReActivate’s food for thought

VRI volunteers Jennifer Cruwys and Jon Bundy with ReActivate Latrobe co-director Joh Lyons (centre). photograph michelle slater

VRI volunteers Jennifer Cruwys and Jon Bundy with ReActivate Latrobe co-director Joh Lyons (centre). photograph michelle slater

A range of local green thumb initiatives that encourage people to share ideas and grow healthy produce have been recognised with a cash donation by a leading Gippsland vegetable industry group.

ReActivate Latrobe Valley was given a $500 donation from the East Gippsland Food Cluster through VegNET Gippsland.

ReActivate co-director Joh Lyons said the money would help continue three local projects that are providing people with the skills for local food growing opportunities.

"It promotes growing, and gardening makes people happy, it creates skills and fresh, local and healthy food," Ms Lyons said.

The #GetStuffed food swap project invites the community to donate and swap excess produce in several locations around the Valley.

Other projects include the #GetGrowing gardening classes, which this year included a series of soil improvement workshops and the #GetHerbed vertical herb bed, selling herbs to local restaurants.

Ms Lyons said they were able to employ one part-time gardener, but hoped to put on more staff as the projects expand.

She said the projects also allowed volunteers to learn about gardening, bounce ideas off one another and develop related skills such as building greenhouses.

The donation was raised from attendees at a Gippsland Women in Horticulture conference and was matched dollar-for-dollar by VegNET Gippsland.

Ms Lyons said some of these projects were being run out of The VRI in Traralgon, working closely with other community groups to maintain a place where people can learn and thrive.

"The current projects are only a fraction of what could be delivered with a stable funding model. That's why we are very appreciative of this donation as it comes at a time when it is needed most," Ms Lyons said.

East Gippsland Food Cluster industry development officer Shayne Hyman said the group would continue to work with the VRI and ReActivate to develop these sorts of community-led social enterprises.

"The East Gippsland Food Cluster has participated in projects in the Latrobe Valley to improve healthy choices and nurture the consumption of fresh produce, so the link between the objectives of the organisations is clear," he said.

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