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Sunday, April 7, 2024

Food enterprise provides youth pathway

By Christine McKee

Sustainable tucker and sustainable jobs were right up there on the agenda four years back when we started schemin’ up a local food co-op.

Today, we’ve got a real network of local food makers and a top-notch greengrocer sittin’ at the heart of Acres and Acres Co-op.

Finding decent gigs for young folks can be a bit of a mission in the bush, but we’ve got two crackin’ opportunities up for grabs at Acres and Acres.

Teaming up with VIC Health, our local mob’s taking a big leap forward by tossin’ two spots into the ring for young’uns aged 18-25.

One spot’s in the greengrocer shop, chattin’ up the punters and gabbin’ about all things sustainable tucker.

The other’s out in the fresh air, gettin’ their hands dirty, growin’ and maintainin’ the co-op’s gardens.

Nicola Costello, a teenager who’s been lendin’ a hand at the greengrocer for the past year, snagged herself a job through our youth initiative. But now she’s packin’ her bags and headin’ overseas, leavin’ a spot open in the shop.

She reckons she loved the vibe at Acres and Acres and the whole push for sustainability.

“I reckon I learnt heaps, and I actually enjoyed rockin’ up to work,” Nicola said.

“It was a ripper atmosphere to be in. Everyone was cruisy and positive, with their brains chock-full of good ideas and keen to fix problems.

“I reckon young people should get clued up about where our tucker comes from, so we can make smart choices about what ends up on our plates and where we shop, helpin’ build a better future.”

While Nicola’s off on her travels, Josh Collings, the big boss at the co-op, says she’s inspired us to rope in more young guns for the team.

“Our hook-up with Vic Health means we can keep backin’ projects that build a more sustainable and resilient community,” Josh said.

“Having young’uns right in the thick of it at the co-op is a big part of that.”

While she was here, Nicola got stuck into some garden graft, doin’ a bit of plantin’, harvestin’, and preppin’ fresh tucker. She got a real eye-opener into how much effort goes into growin’ the good stuff and came out the other side with a newfound respect for her grub.

“Spending a day sweatin’ it out in the garden and then tuckin’ into a dinner packed with fresh picks was bloody satisfyin’,” she said.

“Now I’m buzzin’ about the plans for the kitchen at Acres and Acres.

“It’ll mean we’re not chuckin’ any tucker in the bin and we can dish out some top-notch, fresh, healthy eats and snacks for our community.”

If you or someone you know’s between 18-25, loves a good yarn about community and the environment, and wants to make a real difference while workin’ in a crackin’ spot.

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