By Debbie Hunt, Community Campaigner, Oxfam Australia
You might have read that three Oxfam partners from South African organisation ‘Women on Farms Project’ visited Australia in early June. Colette, Roseline and Gertruida travelled to Australia to speak at a series of events organised as part of our GROW campaign. They were here to speak about the silent majority of people who are hungry around the world – women food producers. They also shared the inspiring ways that their organisation is working to tackle challenges of food insecurity and women farmers’ access to land.
Their first stop was Melbourne where they spent a busy six days meeting with organisations and politicians, and speaking at public events and to the media. Following Melbourne they travelled to Australia’s largest city, Sydney.
Our first activity in Sydney was a visit to a small-scale vegetable farm ‘Field to Feast’ run by farmer husband-and-wife team, Hapi and Cath. Even though it was a rainy day we shared a delicious lunch of produce fresh from the fields. I’d seriously never eaten lettuce that tasted so good!
Gertruida (a small-scale farmer herself), Cath and Hapi shared tips on how to cultivate healthy and nutrient-rich soil, approaches to composting and the challenges of growing vegies in changing weather conditions.
The following day (Tuesday 12 June) was an early start for Colette, who was interviewed on Radio National’s Breakfast Show. You can listen to the podcast here.
Then it was off to North Sydney Sustainability Centre for a morning of cooking! Using produce from Cath and Hapi’s farm, the three women spent the morning with Oxfam Ambassador and Inaugural MasterChef winner Julie Goodwin, teaching her how to cook a traditional South African meal of Tomato Bredie and swapping stories about the role of women in producing food and feeding their families and communities. They were all really nervous about cooking for Julie, but the Tomato Bredie was a great success!
That evening, Colette, Roseline, Gertruida, and Julie were joined by Oxfam Australia’s Economic Justice Policy Advisor, Kelly Dent, to speak on a panel at a ‘Challenging the Hunger Myths’ public event in Redfern. Despite it being a horrible rainy night, a good number of people came out for the event and there was much discussion about the role that we, as consumers, can play in reducing our food waste by purchasing seasonally, locally and consuming consciously.
The next morning, Wednesday, it was another early start to speak at a breakfast event, fuelled by some delicious local fruit and pastries. We rounded off the Sydney leg of the women’s trip with a couple of meetings with local partner organisations.
Then, with many long hugs and promises to stay in touch, I saw Colette, Roseline and Gertruida off at the airport to continue on to their next stop… Perth!