Volunteering at Cropfest – Youth Food Movement

Organic produce is not that perfect carrot, potato, or eggplant at your local Coles or Woolworths. Like humans, they come in all shapes and sizes and on Friday March 28, 2014, St Mary’s Cathedral square was a celebration of all sorts.

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“Youth Food Movement aims to be a nation-wide movement that brings young people together around food.  We strive to make our generation aware of their power as conscious consumers by building understanding and value for the food we eat.”

YFM Cropfest - photo 18In front of St Mary’s Cathedral on a Friday night was not your average bunch of tourists taking photos of the cathedral itself, but a bunch of passionate youngsters ready to cook and eat, listen and learn about food that could’ve been otherwise wasted.

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Wooden stools, potted plants and paper flowers made the unique setting a pleasant night.

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I was a volunteer for the event, meaning that it would be free and we each got a dinner token at either Bar Pho or Feather and Bone. The huge pig on a roast proved to be an even bigger tourist attraction in itself.

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The lights lit up the place and you could enjoy a drink or two at their bar selling organic juices ($3), wine, cider or beer ($6).

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There was even an interactive board on the steps so you could post your thoughts and grab a few brochures to learn about sustainability and green living thanks to City if Sydney.

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Throughout the night, there were some workshops you could attend. I ended up helping to Punk Pickles and Preserves first up. To be honest, there wasn’t much to do as a volunteer except to make sure everyone was wearing a Youth Food Movement apron, had their hands sanitised, and wasn’t doing anything dangerous. Easy! And everyone should do it!

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The pickle boys had split their class into four groups and each of them made a beetroot fennel, cucumber or cauliflower preserve. It was very hands on hence why you shouldn’t bring your alcoholic drinks inside.

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We were all given recipes to follow. Although I was supposed to be making sure everything was going smoothly, I ended up helping the fennel group, chopping them up and making a lemon, sugar, vinegar, oil, water preserve. They all tasted delicious and would’ve been perfect for some salad.

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We all bottled our goods and got to take them home…except someone took mine while I was cleaning up the benches. Sad.

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The station next door was run by OzHarvest and their wonderful volunteers. Again, it was very hands on and everyone was cutting up those veggies to make it into a curried tagine. The best thing about was that we got to eat it with some bread afterwards!

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Yum! And the rest goes to OzHarvest to distribute to those with empty stomached. #winning

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The tent on it’s other side was called ‘Talk to your Food’. How do we talk to our veggies? This workshop is designed so that you can make quick and healthy meals using leftover vegetables in your fridge. Firstly, we made this delicious soup with chilli, capsicum, squash, eggplant and a whole heap of stuff. We passed it around and added cucumber tossed with lemon dressing, diced tomatoes and smoked eggplant.

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Then the guy also made raw zucchini pasta. You wonder how vegans survive eating raw food, right? Shredding zucchini, or even other vegetables such as carrot into linguini strips substitutes for pasta. It’s the same as blending cauliflower into a a rice substitute. It’s delicious!

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“Twisted Drinks” by these two boys in sunnies uses the carts from planes to serve their customers. They taught us how to make an apple and lemon syrup and added soda and rum to pour us cocktails! We used a machine to put caps on the bottles- my friends are going to have the best cocktails next night out!

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We also tried this pretty strong alcohol with mixed spices and herbs. I passed around the straws and the jar so everyone could have a taste of it. I could be sipping this all day if I was chilling at my (future) holiday house.

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There was a chill tent right opposite Twisted Drinks where people like Jo and Alex, the founders of YFM gave talks about food. Ronnie Kahn from OzHarvest and the short film, ‘Sourced’, was also shown to name a few..

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Towards the end there was an excess amount of food so we got to take some chilli plants, broccoli, squash, sage, etc home. The rest went to OzHarvest #sustainableliving

The night ended at around 9:30 with crazy cleaning and packing. I ended up leaving at around 10 but there were heaps of people who stayed longer. Mind you, the organisers have been there since 6am.

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Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product (Volunteering at CropFest for Youth Food Movement): =)

Ambience: =)

Service: =)

Value: =D

Would I volunteer at Cropfest again next year? There are several levels of volunteering when it comes to the Youth Food Movement. I was an event volunteer, meaning that I only helped out during the day. You can also be part of the ‘core team’, meaning that you can go on field trips to gather produce, make decorations, etc. Unfortunately I had a bit going on last month but I would happily help out more!

Would I donate the money I saved to a charity? Normally it’s $25 a ticket and this would be very useful to go towards meals. Did you know that $1 = 2 meals? That would mean that you helped feed one person for a full week! Yes. Let’s help the homeless.

Highlight: making the food! I love being hands on and doing things myself. I think the best was tasting the food we ate! Didn’t even need to use the food token we got given! I also loved how we got to rotate between workshops as volunteers so we could experience the night.

Suggestion of improvement: With the workshops, I don’t think people knew they had to sign up at first so it would’ve been better if it was noted on the event page. I also wished that all those who were conducting workshops and talks had a small microphone because a lot of the time I couldn’t hear them from one side of the tent to another. Other than that, it was a spacious area and nice music in the background.

Ends: March 28, 2014

Link: http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/

Angela Bee

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