Ch ch ch ch changes…

ten years of PttP

Back in the summer of 2009 I had a glut of tomatoes in my backyard garden, couldn’t give them away because it seemed like everyone I knew also had a tomato abundance so I pondered and processed and Produce to the People Tasmania was born.

What began as a way for backyard excess to be shared locally has grown over the years and transitioned so many times it makes my head spin.

I had no real plan, had never worked in community services and was equal parts naive and determined.

Note to self : have a plan

So, for a while I just organised for excess backyard grown produce to be left at local cafes or CommBank branches and made sure it got to whomever the local community organisation was who already worked with people who might benefit from some fresh produce in their diet. Then I was made aware of the bulk produce that went to waste – the too big carrots, the not quite green enough broccoli, the too creamy in colour cauliflowers and thought well, we can do something with that!  And then began the gathering of half tonne crates of produce, the deliveries to organisations and Primary Schools.  A short chain distribution network that meant we only gave away what we gathered in one day so there was no need for storage facilities which is where things start to get $$$. I had a small team of volunteers who helped with deliveries – one of whom still gathers and gives (Raylene you legend!!)

I also began a series of gardening programs in Primary Schools – ably assisted by our Snack Garden Guru – who taught kids how to grow their own veggies, compost and generally be creative in the veggie patch.

Note to self: as soon as you get one more person involved things begin to get complicated

Funded by a series of grants that became harder and harder to get as food projects suddenly became sexy and every person and their dog it seemed wanted to start their own version of what we were already doing.

Note to self : the community services space is some of the most competitive, take no prisoners, we will duplicate your service because we have more resources to write grant applications space I have ever worked in. Be careful who you “work” with. To be honest, I was really only screwed over by one organisation but it did make me learn to trust my gut and the PttP ethos of trust relationships has really worked well for the most part.

This went on for a number of years and my naiveté around – well we have such a successful program doing such good in the community, of course we will continue to be funded – was challenged pretty much every time there was an election, and my wordy we have A LOT of elections.

Note to self: don’t give up your day job

There are so many flaws in the way community programs are funded and I am sure there is no one right way to do it but my gosh there are better ways and there seriously needs to be bi/tri/partisan agreements as to how changes can be made for the good of the most vulnerable in our community. Preferably local solutions not held to ransom by bureaucrats who don’t live outside of cities.

As time passed the lugging of bulk produce started to lose its allure.  People wanted more – different varieties, more deliveries, less deliveries and I decided to take up the offer of reinvigorating  The Farm at Burnie High on the then Principal’s second request.  Luckily for me I had the most amazing farm manager Kim by my side and we managed to do some amazing things. Once again though changes in government meant changes to funding which meant one minute staff, next minute no staff. Not a sustainable way for any business, not for profit or not to thrive.

Moving to The Farm also meant I could develop a place, a home where we could not only offer gathered produce but also grow our own.  The food hub opened up with its “ask no questions” policy and quickly became a haven for our community to access produce to feed themselves and their families with no judgement.

Note to all: the only people who have ever questioned whether we are taken advantage of have never had to access food relief.

There has been so much good – the wonderful volunteers who give their time without question and volunteer in the true sense of the word.  The students and staff of Burnie High who LOVE The Farm and what we have made it into.  The School of Special Education students and staff who I think have been just about the best thing ever. The many producers big and small who give graciously. The staff who have come and gone.  Our Patrons. The amazing people we have collaborated with on events. The Board members who have come and gone and persist. The people who come to nurture clients, themselves and families fresh, healthy food. Each and every seed with its potential to grow into something

The not so good – the constant struggle for funding, the constant lobbying – politicians here one day, gone the next, start again, sigh.  The minority of volunteers who make trouble (a real nightmare). The new reliance on “social enterprise” being seen as some kind of win all model that is being embraced by all sides of government.  It is not.  You can not expect underfunded organisations to take on developing and then the running of a micro or small business that is not supported and potentially in competition with the private sector to become a source of financial independence. Likewise, you should not expect organisations to manage teams of volunteers – who all come with their special kind of circumstances – without support. It is overwhelming and does not make for healthy workplaces.

Note to self: remember to have a life outside of PttP

Whilst I do not believe I have come anywhere near to fulfilling Produce to the People’s potential, I reckon we have kicked a hell of a lot of goals.

I hope Produce to the People will continue to grow, gather and give. The reality is that each year we have more people accessing fresh, nutritious food via our food hub, the service providers we work with, and the elders we delivers produce boxes to each week. Whilst pensions leave people living below the poverty line, with women becoming the highest rising cohort facing homelessness and many more students living outside of home there will be a need for assistance.

Note to all : our service is accessed around 2000 times each month

I leave my hands on role with PttP in my tenth year with a blossoming social enterprise arm – our awesome micro green and edible flower venture – the next three years funding in place and another Federal election around the corner where hopefully whomever becomes in charge of the next Australian Government will consider funding local programs doing exceptional work. I am thrilled that the Tasmanian Government are again funding School Farms and that Burnie High will have a two day equivalent farm teacher next year.

There is no one person replacing me. We are going to see how/if it works having two part time people – Michelle looking after food hub operations and Leigh looking after the microgreens.  Burnie High now having a farm teacher will take over the gardens – they will still grow for the food hub but the reality is we have not been funded to look after the gardens for a long time now and gardens need resources and someone to lead.  We will re-assess in six months. I am hopeful the transition from me being hands on will be drama free and enable PttP to grow in possibly different but equally awesome ways. I will remain on the Board in the short term to assist the transition and look after a few things I never had the time to pour any real energy into.

Personally – well I am taking a little break and will begin a new role with Many Rivers, a not-for-profit organisation that supports aspiring business owners with microenterprise development support and access to finance in order to see the potential of people and communities realised in mid January. This is a Tasmania wide role so no doubt you will see me around!

What a blessing it has been.

For now, goodbye

Penelope | Founder of Produce to the People Tasmania/Inc

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News

news december 2018

Hi all, with Christmas and a New Year just around the corner we thought we would give you the latest on what’s happening at Produce to the People.

Last night we held our Annual General Meeting as well as a General Meeting of our Board and there are a few changes at the helm.

We are so grateful to our outgoing President Catherine Gale-Stanton for the wonderful work she has done for Produce to the People over the past year – that gala would never have happened without her! Catherine has been a great asset to PTTP and her work, along with that of the Board, staff and volunteers has left us in a great position moving forward.

We are ever so pleased to introduce the new PttP Board: Dr Amina Keygan steps up from her VP role to become our new President and Corey Speers is our new VP.  Claire Smith remains as Treasurer and Simon Gates as Public Officer.  Our Secretary role remains a shared one.  General Board Members remaining are Penelope Dodd, Michelle Williamson, Lee-Anne Mundy and we are pleased to welcome new general Board members Steph Prendergast and Harry Cuthbertson.

We are thrilled that as of next year Burnie High will be getting a two day a week Farm teacher and happy to have that teacher, Steph Predergast join the PttP Board. More kids on The Farm more often…….brilliant!

Our other big news is that our founder and hands on everything person, Penelope Dodd is leaving her hands on role after a rollercoaster nine years as GM.  Fortunately she will continue to have an influence on the future of PTTP by remaining on the Board. The Board takes this opportunity to thank Penelope for her outstanding contribution, which has played a significant role in us continuing to grow, gather and give well into the future. And while it with sadness that we see her go, we look forward to an exciting year ahead of us with these changes on both the Board and on The Farm.

There will be more news to come as we firm up Penelope’s replacements and we’ll ensure to keep you posted.

The Produce to the People Board.

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Our new Patron – Brendon Gale, CEO Richmond FC

 

 

Richmond Chief joins Produce to the People

Produce to the People is delighted to announce its new patron, former north-west Coaster and CEO of the Richmond Football Club, Brendon Gale.

Produce to the People (PttP) , which operates a food relief hub, social enterprise and four-season farm on The Farm at Burnie High School welcomed Gale as its patron in May.

Gale has remained deeply connected to the Coast, long after leaving to join the Tigers as a young player in 1990.

Gale, who returns to Tassie regularly, took the opportunity to tour The Farm with PttP’s founder and general manager Penelope Dodd and Board President Catherine Gale-Stanton (Gale’s sister), in October 2017.

Brendon and Cat Gale

“They do a lot with very little,” Gale said. “Thousands of the region’s most vulnerable visit the farm to access the fresh food that PttP provides, and that number is growing. But, like many volunteer-run charities, the funding doesn’t grow alongside that increased need.”

“I’m humbled and happy to help where I can,” Gale said.

PttP’s founder Penelope Dodd was excited to welcome Gale, alongside celebrity TV chef Ben Milbourne, who is PttP’s first patron.

“We are thrilled Brendon is joining us as patron,” PttP founder and GM Penelope Dodd said.

“His connection to the Coast is so strong, and it’s clear he wants to see the best for the place where he grew up. We are immensely grateful to our donors, but we run on the smell of an oily rag; to continue to grow, gather and give we also need help from the community.

“We have recently been given Deductible Gift Recipient status, which makes donations tax deductible. We rely heavily on donations, fortunately DGR status makes donating to a charity an even more rewarding decision.”

In May this year 2146 people accessed fresh food from the Produce to the People food hub, a 26% increase on 2017.

“We provide an essential service for a growing number of people in our community who are in need,” Ms Dodd said.

“We are looking forward to our new patron’s role in helping PttP continue its role in the community.”

To find out how you can assist PttP click on this link.

 

Produce to the People

Penelope Dodd                   0409 484 152

Catherine Gale-Stanton    0419 257 626