Hidden right in the middle of The Mulch Pit Community Garden over 60 attendees enjoyed a sit down meal under the stars, and were served 5 courses, by volunteers and people who had chosen to get involved with the innovative ticketing system. The tables were decorated with local flowers, provided by a lovely participant and decorated with jars and op shop finds and the whole event was surrounded by many of the plants appearing on the plates.
There was an adjacent “chill out area” reminiscent of a Moroccan tent, adorned with fairy lights and lanterns, mats and cushions, but actually under 2 hills hoists covered in passionfruit vine.
The 5 dishes were created by local cooks, using local ingredients and accompanied by the creator’s story of their journey to Darwin or being from Darwin and connection to this place, to these people, to our produce, to here and now; the dishes were served to everyone with a heart felt story about why they were chosen by their creators. Yo Bell from Story projects helped the community cooks construct their stories and deliver them on the night.
This is not the first time GULP NT has run story telling and food events to inspire the Darwin community to embrace local produce, but the first time it has been the focus at a sit down meal. Some of the cooks have been involved before in either radio stories about cooking or at the community cooking stage at the Tropical Garden Spectacular, at the Local Roots festival or Banana Festival, or are familiar with the project so had personal connections and a love of local food.
Most of all we love to be involved in connecting community and connecting to our wonderful Top End produce and this is a wonderful way to bring people together.
The idea behind the event was to create a magical atmosphere to connect community, to connect people to their food and to encourage everyone to embrace growing and using local produce (GULP!) all held together by story telling; with the added bonus that those coming could become more involved and pay less or even pay more- with the mid ticket at an affordable price.
There was lots of preparation of the ingredients involved, lots of foraging, market shopping and coming together, there were menu preparations and story telling mentoring and there are many many people to thank- but we will do a little behind the scenes post separately!
So all those attending were welcomed to the space and to this place and blessed with the original food story, one of Larrakia legend, Leslie Gordon. The story was so much more than a ‘Welcome to Country” but a personal story of growing up in Darwin in the surrounds, spending time with family hunting and going bush for food, particularly on show day and learning to see yams with her siblings.
Leslie not only shared her story, but also Bush Tucker fruits (Syzygium fibrosum and Terminalia ferdiandiana) and “Long Bums”- a wild collected seafood that was cooked on the fire. It was so lovely to see Leslie in her element who has a connection to the GULP team, working in kitchen gardens years ago with Emma and now expanding her work re-connecting children (indigenous and others) to native foods.
After this wonderful welcome guests were offered a tour of the garden by long standing volunteers Lucy and Lia and some roasted green pawpaw to try, before sitting at the tables nestled in the garden.
Everyone was asked to then exchange the gifts and stories that they were encouraged to bring along to offer to people they hadn’t met. We witnessed some wonderful exchanges, including beautiful stories, sour dough starters, plants, jams and chutneys. This excersize hoped to bring out the stories that we all have within us that reflect our love of food, plants and sharing with others.
The evening was very well received by everyone and certainly there was a wonderful atmosphere and community connections. Co-founder of GULP, Bhavini Patel MCed the event and those attending enjoyed a garden greens pesto made by Mulch Pit and GULP members and local food enthusiasts Henry and Shirley, served with Alley Cats Bread. This was followed by a starter of Nummus (Pickled Fish) and accompanied by the story of another GULP co-founder and event creator Emma Lupin’s passion for the sea and gardens combining in Darwin, after arriving by boat and continuing her adventures with plants and places.
Zach Green, stepped in to tell the story of Ben, an Bininj indigenous man from Kakadu, sadly after coming up with an amazing dish that went hand in hand with a story about the love of the stars and connecting to country, and practicing his recipe with the GULP team, he was unable to make it. Ben’s story told of his family living on country, his upbringing involving hunting for foods, but also of a gift given to his family by a Greek Darwin family- a star fruit tree and that that gift that kept on giving, a tree representing connections to Darwin and cultural diversity. The stories and wonderful flavours kept on coming with an amazing dry Jackfruit curry from Biji, orginally from Kerala in India and a story of connection and family and food bringing people together in a new place; Zandro who was born in the Phillipines told his story of feasts and food and his love of local food and served up a wonderful salad of pommello, cucumber, sprouts and herbs, served in a lettuce leaf. Then came our desert, a traditional West Papuan Cassava pudding served up with a story of roots and bitter sweet times of struggling for independence and coming together with family. During the evening the food was accompanied by music chosen by Miss Possum (aka Gaia) that reflected the food and it’s cooks origins.. It really was a lovely evening and we witnessed so many great conversations and hope to bring people together again in the future We could not have done this without you- the people that came, the people that donated, so thank you; Thanks to Simon Whyte for coming and volunteering as a photographer and letting us use the above photographs (with the exception of the photos of Leslie Gordon, taken by Em Lupin) AWARD- There were awards for different events at the Fringe festival, which the event was part of and our hard work was apparently awarded winner in the Spoken Word Gold Category- which is pretty awesome, Lisa and I were at another friends show- not at the awards (which we were not really aware of) but we get a gold crocodile! MONEY RAISED We also raised a $200 “Hire donation” for the Mulch Pit / Frillies plus an extra $190 for the garden, which is great. ($390 total) This will go towards tools for the garden and materials. With money raised from ticket sales and donations we managed to buy the produce, give the cooks some money for their time, pay the chef and story telling mentor, hire lights/ sound/ tablecloths and the rest was down to wonderful volunteers (including volunteer organizers, MC, Mulch Pit servers and people washing up, decorators and musical entertainment and much more.) THANK YOU Thank you so much to our supporters that helped covered the above costs including- Don Whyte Framing City of Darwin Council Hon. Natasha Fyles (Local member for Nightcliff) Alley Cats Patisserie Greenies Real Foods and of course all of those who came along! THANKS once again for your time and we hope to do it next year.