Grow Free flourishes from Fleurieu Peninsula as a way for gardeners to share organic food

One of Grow Free's organic produce sharing carts, with the movement'sSouth Australian  founder Andrew Barker (inset).
Main image by Photograffix

Grow Free is a concept, started by Andrew Barker on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, that has spread interstate with an early foothold overseas. The grassroots community movement is built around placing share carts on streets where locals fill them with excess organic food produce from their gardens. People are free to take as much or little as they need from the carts.

The location of carts on a map is shared via the Grow Free Facebook group. Grow Free also offers seedlings for heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Grow Free founder Andrew Barker developed a taste for gardening when he moved onto a farm at Meadows on the Fleurieu Peninsula. But his epiphany came at a local supermarket where he was surprised by what people were buying and eating and passing these habits to their children. He realised even middle-class families weren’t able to afford organic food.

Barker started what became Grow Free by giving away seeds and seedlings from his home. This grew into people wanting to help and be involved. Grow Free was soon helping people set up gardens, organising sharing carts, attending sharing markets, cooking at a meals program, and promoting good health and abundance in the community.

Beginning in Victor Harbor and Fleurieu towns of Goolwa, Yankalilla and Strathalbyn, the number of Grow Free carts has grown past 100, including appearing of the streets of Melbourne and Perth, as the “Take what you need and give what you can” philosophy spreads. The Victorian chapter of Grow Free has expanded rapidly and there has been interest from the Netherlands, Iceland and the United States. 

Grow Free's excess produce is also donated to charities such as food banks and homeless shelters.

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