Sustainable eats workshop is an agent of change

The vegie patch of Mike Clark and Tanya Langlois provided ingredients for the Sustainable Streets feast last Saturday
The vegie patch of Mike Clark and Tanya Langlois provided ingredients for the Sustainable Streets feast last Saturday

Is it possible to cook up a delicious feast for a big gathering of adults and kids using almost exclusively locally grown produce?

The answer was a resounding yes in Mullumbimby last Saturday, as 'Sustainable Eats' workshop participants sat down to a mouth-watering spread of pungent curries and fresh salads, finishing off with banana lime ice cream smothered in a macadamia, honey and carob sauce.

The chicken was from Alstonville, the rice from Goolmangar, and everything else from the Farmers Markets or from backyard vegie patches, with just two or three ingredients sourced from further afield.

The workshop was held at the New City Road home of Mike Clark and Tanya Langlois, runners-up in the Sustainable Streets project, a project which, in conjunction with Byron Shire Council, is looking to encourage households in a step by step approach to reduce their ecological footprint while at the same time save money.

And it's an approach that appears to be working well, as Mike and Tanya, as well as Sharon Gibson in Stuart Street, who won the Sustainable Streets eco-home makeover, report huge interest in their vegetable gardens, and the inspiration they have been to others to do likewise.

“It's grassroots neighbourhood change,” said Byron Council's Sustainability Officer Graeme Williams, looking around at everyone chatting animatedly over the Thai chicken curry and haloumi and sweet potato salad, “and already people have started talking about bulk buys in solar panels, about sharing child care and about growing fruit trees.

“I always knew it was a street by street behaviour change, but knowing is never the same as seeing it in action, seeing the contagiousness of it all.

“People who were strangers yesterday have come together, people from all walks of life - this is the fabric of community.”

Over the course of the morning participants planted fruit trees - lemons, figs and feijoas - in nearby front gardens, a demonstration of one method of localising food production.

In the kitchen, Nina Bishop demonstrated the thermal cooker, a great way of improving energy efficiency in the kitchen, and talked about ways of avoiding packaging.

“If you take your own containers in to Santos between 8.30am and 9.30am you get a discount,” she told participants. “I've been doing it for years.”

And with everyone being very mindful of avoiding packaging, at the end of the feast there was only one small bread bag of rubbish to go in the bin -“the PLA cups can be cut up and put in the compost.”

Next year Sustainable Streets will be looking at running a similar project in other parts of Byron Shire.

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