COSTA Georgiadis was every bit as enthusiastic and friendly in person as he is as the host of ABC’s Gardening Australia. But when he came as a special guest to the Best Food Garden Big Lunch last Friday, he showed another quality as he addressed the crowd; compassion.
People who have played some part in the evolution of the Best Food Garden gathered for the lunch to celebrate the marriage of age, ability and vision for local food sustainability. There was music, performance, egg collecting, talk and lots of food.
Costa took time in the midst of the lunch to speak to the crowd. He related a memorable moment he and Best Employment social programs co-ordinator Danny Middleton toured the garden. Food is grown and harvested by volunteers from all walks of life and the unemployed, then delivered to 100 senior households.
Costa and Danny had regarded a large pumpkin intended for delivery. Where some might see a dollar value in the vegetable, Danny regarded it differently.
“He said, ‘Costa, you see that pumpkin? That’s a ten-pensioner pumpkin’, Costa said.
“Imagine that? What a beautiful way of looking at it; that I can cut that up and give it out to 10 of our elders.
“And when someone, or when an organisation is thinking like that, you suddenly look at this paddock with a whole different light. And that’s what touched me, the most.”
It did touch the visiting gardener. Costa tried to continue, but took several moments as he fought back emotion. When he regained his composure, he spoke about changing the vocabulary of food production from potential to earn to potential to feed.
“So when I heard that vocabulary, that thinking translating to that level of care, about what a pumpkin means, that’s, that makes me cry.”
Costa said the Food Garden defined what a community project should be in its intent and direction and delivery of lasting skills. He said it included all people, from elders to children, and added he would share the garden’s story as he travels the country.
The event was thrown in conjunction with Food Swell, an initiative grown from the Remote Indigenous Gardens (RIG) Network. Its founder, Anthea Fawcett said she had visited the Inverell garden last November, and the Big Lunch was positive about the day.
“I felt really joyful actually, because I think everyone who came along got something out of it,” Anthea said.
“I think it was a real celebration of a really major project that’s got very strong legs and looks set to grow even more.”
Danny grew the giving garden from small beginnings to an inclusive initiative that keeps expanding. He said Costa’s validation of all the work in the past two years was
“That was a very, very proud moment for Best Employment and myself,” he said.
“To be recognized. When Costa said it was one of the best models he’s ever seen; that was just awesome.”