Local partnership enhances down to earth program
A NOT-FOR-PROFIT regenerative farm based in Freshwater Creek and two organisations operating out of Geelong have joined forces in providing fresh produce to people in the region who need it most.
The Common Ground Project in Freshwater Creek has been running its Staying Grounded program since the pandemic began, allowing employment opportunities at their location and producing numerous meals on a weekly basis.
Geelong’s Give Where You Live (GWYL) Foundation has given The Common Ground Project $18,000 to help continue the initiative’s operations.
The added funds will not only allow participants within the Staying Grounded project to learn new skills, but they will also teach them to supply emergency food relief to those in need.
The GWYL Foundation gives out two different grants per year, with numerous applications being received during the selection process.
But The Common Ground Project’s philosophy was a main attraction for the foundation’s team.
“What really highlighted this project as a candidate for funding was their breadth of support that they are providing across the community,” said head of the impact team at GWYL Kerry Farrence.
Conversations about the grant between the two parties began more than a year ago when the pandemic was in full swing.
“They approached us to see how they could support people in the food relief space at a time where demand for food relief was increasing significantly, then they started producing these meals and giving them to local organisations like OneCare,” Ms Farrence said.
OneCare is another local organisation from Geelong that helps deliver the food created by initiatives such as the Staying Ground Project to disadvantaged and isolated communities through their food bank that runs every Tuesday.
Community program director Simone Hughes emphasised her joy at all these bodies banding together for a combined cause.
“It all ties in together to have someone like GWYL that can look at an organisation like The Common Ground which has the potential to have an impact on the community, but just needs to get that little bit of money to be able to do that,” Ms Hughes said.
“Then we can do our little part of delivering the food made, which creates a flow-on effect where we can all work together.”
According to facilitators of the Staying Grounded program Greta Carroll and Ivan Blacket, many if not all their participants come from the Diversitat community.
“We saw that there were a lot of people during COVID-19 that required employment,” she said.
“So we decided to employ some of the most disadvantaged people in the community cooking for people who didn’t have access to food, which is how it started and has kept growing.”
“Mainly in the Staying Grounded Program we get new migrants or refugees that are settled in Geelong, and we work really closely with Diversitat to find people who are going to fit in well with what we want to do,” said Mr Blacket.
Some of these participants have come from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq.
Money from the grant will be directed towards the wages of employees of the Common Ground Project, wages to the participants and money to purchase the produce.