“These are the interactions with people who live so close to us, yet I doubt we would have chatted if not for our little stall… I can’t even describe how nice that feels. It’s somehow… hopeful.” Koren Holbig
The year of 2020 has seen a renewed interest in a growing food & a sustainable and local food supply. This week we have a guest post from PA member Koren Helbig, on Kaurna Land, South Australia. Koren chats to us about her new project – The Local Yum – an urban street stall promoting local food with some unexpected positive outcomes along the way.
“In September 2020, we launched our tiny Adelaide honesty stall, @the.local.yum. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. A way of connecting with the community, sharing the story of growing good food in urban areas, and inching (in a small way, admittedly) toward more local resilience.
Months of planning ensued, as I sought advice from friends, fellow gardeners and members of the Permaculture Australia Official Facebook group about the do’s and don’ts, as well as other useful lessons folks could share from their experiences.
Some of my favourite tips included:
- Keeping a little notebook on the stall, so neighbours can leave feedback and words of encouragement.
- Using the word ‘honesty’ in signage, a reminder to people of what the whole project is about.
- Ensuring prices are round figures, the kind that are both easy to add up and easy to pay for with small change or notes ($4 rather than $3.50, for example).
- Including bank details so even folks who don’t carry cash have a way to get involved. (This has actually worked so well!)
My partner Carmelo and I pondered for months on how exactly to make our stall. We didn’t want to buy anything, but rather reuse materials wherever possible. Then one day, walking home, I noticed a giant junk pile in a neighbour’s front yard – and spied some brilliantly rustic old shelves amid the jumble. We returned that arvo and this neighbour was delighted to lessen his landfill pile, even chucking everything in his van and delivering it for us!
Then our lovely next-door neighbour let us use his tools – and his considerable knowledge – to repair the broken doors, attach a roof, and grind a money slot in the old blue cash box I picked up at a secondhand store. He even gave us some off-cuts from his decking project, which I turned into hand-lettered signs.
All was going well. And yet. I was simultaneously being hit with a pre-launch neg storm, often from people who’d never tried anything similar before themselves. “It will be stolen overnight.” “People will just take things without paying.” “In that area of Adelaide? It will never work.” “You’re naive.”
It all got a bit much there for a while. I started to lose faith. But thankfully I had kind and calm words to guide me when I freaked out. Sally has run her brilliant @jembellafarm honsety stall at Angaston (Barossa Valley) for years.
She was realistic, yet encouraging. It was a lifeline. She helped me see this wasn’t such a crazy idea after all. “Give people a chance to be honest,” Sally suggested. Such beautiful wisdom.As we set up the stall on launch weekend, amazing things started to happen — even before we sold anything.
Danny, a local chef, stopped by to chat and offer help in any way we wanted. A handyman named Spog passed by right as Carmelo needed a hand fixing our fence. When Spog returned with his tools, he brought us goji berry cuttings, native finger lime seedlings and a luffa from his own garden. That last one is just too coincidental; I’d been hunting for local luffa seeds for weeks without success. Thanks to the stall, they were literally delivered to us. Free. Oh, and we got to pat a greyhound!
These are interactions with people who live so close to us, yet I doubt we would have chatted if not for our little stall. We made three sales on our first day, all from lovely nearby neighbours. I can’t even describe how nice that feels. It’s somehow … hopeful.
We can’t know what will happen to our stall in the future. But I love that it’s already pushing me to redefine my definition of success. Yes, the willingness of people to buy our things is heartening, exciting even.
But there’s so much more to this, I think.”
Koren is a member of Permaculture Australia, the national member-based organisation in Australia. Sign up as a member here today to join hundreds of members across Australia like Koren advocating for permaculture solutions.
This article aligns with the permaculture ethics (Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share) and permaculture principles including Produce No Waste, Integrate rather than segregate and Use Edges and Value the Marginal. Find out more about the permaculture principles and ethics here.
You can follow the journey of @the.local.yum via Instagram or visit the stall in Adelaide to check out the local range of produce. For more South Australia activities, check out Permaculture South Australia and the SA Urban Food Network