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Homegrown + homemade

Astrid O'Neill

Meet the local entrepreneurs bringing homegrown, homemade food to Canberra

‘Good food to me is gold,’ says Georgina Prasad, the Canberra woman behind Homegrown Me.

Unscrupulous producers pinch words like ‘locally made’ and ‘local food’ to greenwash their products. This way, they can capitalise on the increasing demand for food produced within a community.

Local women Georgina Prasad and Teena Thaliyath are responding to this demand in an honest way. They’ve created platforms to bring food made in the Canberra region right to our doors.

Homegrown me – never miss a farmers’ market again

Georgina Prasad, creator of Homegrown Me.

Georgina Prasad, creator of Homegrown Me.

Last year, Georgina decided to create a transparent, dedicated online marketplace platform that allows food producers and buyers to connect directly. She’s already received many calls and emails from strangers who are curious and excited about her initiative.

Through Homegrown Me , a range of fresh and seasonal produce can now be bought, sold and exchanged. This includes fruits, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, meat, ready-made meals, coffee, chocolate, flowers, tea, garden supplies and jams.

‘Good food to me is gold,’ says Georgina. ‘I love growing it and cooking it. This is a way to merge my passions and help other people to get their thing out there.’

Homegrown Me started out as a quest for a delicious dessert.

“Late last year I was sitting at home in the evening thinking, ‘I really feel like a good dessert!’” says Georgina.

“I didn’t want something from a store. I wanted something really delicious and thoughtfully made but didn’t feel like cooking.”

Georgina, who’s an avid gardener and a member of the Canberra Organic Growers Society, knows local people who grow and make fantastic food to sell at farmers’ markets and the Old Bus Depot Markets.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could contact them right now and arrange to have something delivered or picked up?’ says Georgina.

“I know there are some websites out there that facilitate food exchange but I realised it would be great to extend that service to include a whole range of things – like biscuits or cakes or an amazing from-scratch pasta sauce made by someone you know.”

Georgina loves visiting the markets because they allow us to connect with ‘real food’.

“The food industry is a bizarre thing,” says Georgia.

“A free-range hen should be the norm. Organic, locally produced food should be the norm. These things are labelled as the exception – we’ve lost our connection to what real food is.”

An online marketplace can steal back personal time for market-goers.

“I love looking at the food and meeting the people that make it but on the weekends I have limited time since I’m a mother to two young children,” says Georgina.

“Many of us know the regret of missing the market, and a lot of stallholders know the exhaustion that comes from being prepared and present during the day.”

Producers, who are licensed to sell food in the ACT, create a profile when they sign up to Homegrown Me.

“That way, buyers see the seller themselves rather than me or a company claiming that it’s from someone local without any kind of evidence” says Georgina.

“It’s a conscious decision to be very clear and transparent about who our people are, where they are and what they’re selling.”

Later this year, Georgina intends to open the Homegrownme Hub – a cashless physical hub. Here, people can either pick up pre-ordered products, purchase stocked food to take away with them, or organise for food to be delivered to their home or workplace during the week.

Hometaste – authentic, homestyle dishes delivered to your door

 

hometasteFor the convenience of food that’s delivered, we often sacrifice quality and, ultimately, our health – until now. Hometaste showcases authentic dishes cooked by local chefs, delivered to homes around the city between 6pm and 7:30pm each day.

Hometaste was born from Teena’s own pregnancy experience.

“I live with my husband and we don’t have our family here – I didn’t have anyone else to help when I was pregnant,” says Teena.

“Restaurant food and takeaway was too rich, too heavy. I couldn’t find comforting homestyle food to suit me.”

Through Hometaste, Teena provides a platform for people who make fresh, authentic food and those who want it delivered conveniently to their door for a good price.

“People can be very isolated here,” says Teena.

“They don’t even know who their neighbours are. Food is such a powerful way to connect people and I wanted to make that accessible to a wider audience. Technology is a great way to do that.”

Teena’s background in the IT industry has helped Hometaste get up and running. As an IT business consultant in Canberra, she knows it’s important to refine end-to-end business processes to provide a seamless experience for clients.

Recently, Teena has been awarded a place in the Griffin Accelerator 2016 – a three-month intensive program run by seasoned Canberra entrepreneurs who invest in, host, teach and mentor selected startups.

Through this program, she hopes to turn Hometaste into a trusted platform for both home cooks and professional cooks.

‘Professional cooks can be restricted by the menus set for them in their establishments,’ says Teena. “Through Hometaste, they can experiment, be creative and get some feedback.”

Teena hopes the platform will also be a way for people to reduce food wastage.

“When I make food for my family I often make a lot,” Teena says.

“Now, I can use Hometaste to share a few portions with someone else within my own neighbourhood.”

To showcase food through Hometaste, people firstly have to pass a strict vetting process to ensure they are certified food safety handlers who produce quality meals.

“So far, the people who have eaten the meals have loved it,” says Teena.

“They comment on the quality of the food. Some restaurants freeze the batches, the sauces, the bases and so on, but our food is made from scratch using fresh ingredients.”

Teena understands that people want to know where their food comes from.

“Our professional content marketing specialist will profile each of our chefs and their recipes on our site,” she says.

Ultimately, Teena wants Hometaste to create local jobs.

“As part of my research I’ve spoken to a lot of people, especially migrant families,” Teena says.

“There can be a lot of barriers for them. For example, I know a woman who was a professional dentist in her home country but couldn’t get a job here. She can cook really well, so Hometaste is a way she can earn some money again and become part of her community. I know stay-at-home-mums may be interested in joining the platform. We want it to be good for the community. We want to empower people through food.’

 

Astrid O'Neill

Astrid O’Neill has joined the HerCanberra team for a writing internship. Previously she’s studied at the University of Canberra and the University of Oxford, and worked for a bold little New York publishing company. She’s a Southsider at heart but now lives in Braddon with her fiancé, where they’re often planning their travels over a local brew. More about the Author

  • Ante

    There’s a local Canberra based business that makes certified organic, pre made meals and they deliver. Very affordable considering they use certified organic ingredients.

    A chef and a holistic coach foundered it. It’s called Primal Move Food.

    Check it out http://www.primalmovefood.com

  • Hollie Bell

    I’m sure Teena will turn it into a massive success.