About Us

About Us
Our positive impact
Education

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Food security

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Community cohesion

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We’re a community led
not-for-profit providing
food security and education.

Food Is Free Inc. is a community-led not-for-profit benefitting all Ballarat citizens, focusing especially on those experiencing disadvantage, with the purpose of assisting food security education and community inclusion.

Food Is Free Laneway solves food waste issues whilst assisting those food insecure: visitors access free fresh food (fruit/veg/herbs only), seeds and seedlings donated from citizens’ gardens and from our Food Is Free Green Space (2018).

Food Is Free Green Space is a purpose-built, 40+ garden bed classroom, for all community members to enjoy, particularly at-risk/marginalised community members. We specialise in accessible, skills and empowerment-based building workshops. Anyone is welcome to pick food from this space at anytime. We also host monthly markets here, first Sunday of the month 11am – noon.

A short walk from each other, both enjoy over 100 visitors daily and are cherished by our citizens. Both spaces are accessible 24/7, 365 days of the year, as food security is an all-hours issue.

"From little things, big things grow..."

I set up Food Is Free Laneway up on a sunny day on 18th October, 2014 beside my home with some pals.

Heavily inspired by John VanDeusen Edwards (founder of Food Is Free in USA), as well as Ron Finley and other guerrilla gardeners, the Food is Free Laneway is a magical space for people to drop off, or collect for free, nutritious food (veggies, fruit, herbs etc), and connect with the neighbourhood.

Food Is Free Inc. Board was established in April 2016 when I saw a need to create a not-for-profit organisation from the success of the Laneway and community response.

Food Is Free Green Space was launched on 25 March 2018, and is a large community gathering space where food is grown in 40+ garden beds, workshops conducted, school and other group tours take place etc. Our sites are on Wadawurrung land, and Green Space was kindly made possible from City of Ballarat, to nurture our community via food. Here anyone is allowed to wander around and pick food, and make connections. We host many activities & events from our Green Space, and it also is a place for food waste activities: our 12 highly-frequented compost systems, plus worm farms pump out high volumes of compost donated by the public (about 240 litres of food scraps weekly!!). This welcoming, colourful site is a welcome relief of greenery for visitors, and it brings so many positive mental & physical health benefits.

We also host monthly markets selling garden goodies plus Food Is Free Inc. merch on first Sunday of the month from 11am – noon at our Green Space.

All Food Is Free Inc. projects are run by an amazing group of passionate and committed volunteers. I cannot thank them enough for believing in the cause.

Relying on the generosity of our community to sustain itself, Food Is Free Inc. gratefully accepts financial donations, no matter how big or small. Help us make a meaningful impact in the Ballarat community by donating or volunteering today!

Together we can create change.

Founder & Director,

Lou Ridsdale

Driven by committed volunteers and board members.

We have a team of approx. 70 marvellous volunteers who assist with regular weekly Food Is Free Laneway and fortnightly/monthly Food Is Free Green Space shifts varying from 30 mins up to an hour per session. Duties carried out ensure the health & safety of all our visitors, and tasks include disposing of perished food, general tidying, attending to the jars/bottles and garden pots recycle station, watering our plants, and other gardening tasks.

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Our 2021 community impact...

2021 was undeniably a very tricky year. The bulk of it was spent in lockdowns for Regional Victoria, impacting our volunteers and workshops/events, which were all pretty much sidelined for the year.

Despite that we managed to seize the opportunity of ”downtime” to deep dive into strategic planning. Have a look at our Food Is Free Inc. Board Annual Report 2021 to know all about it!

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