JAMES McDonald’s commitment to growing food for the most vulnerable is about to expand through a buy one, give one pledge he hopes will catch on.
The Mundaring grower will donate the same quantity of microgreens he sells at farmers’ markets to a charity that makes meals for the homeless.
Giving Greens is the next step in his model to provide food to those most in need by having those able to buy the microgreens help fund the project.
“When I first started the Perth Urban Farm Project in 2014, the whole idea was based around being able to provide quality fresh produce in unused spaces for those less able to buy it,” he said.
“It’s estimated about 5 per cent of Australians experience food insecurity, but Australia reportedly produces enough food to feed 60 million. These statistics suggest we don’t have a supply problem, just a distribution problem – I’m hoping to help change that.”
The 30-year-old philanthropist realised after a few months of growing and selling microgreens that he could support himself well enough to give away supplies of the nutrient-dense vegies.
He launched his buy one, give one initiative at the Perth City Farm and Stirling farmers’ markets last week and set aside the same amount of baby greens for the charity Manna Inc in Victoria Park.
“Manna will be using them in the meals they distribute to those in need,” he said.
“Given these microgreens are incredibly nutrient-dense and organically grown, those experiencing challenging times can still have access to quality food.”
He grows the microgreens in a potting mix in an open environment in less than a month on unused land given free of cost.
“In general, microgreens are more nutrient-dense than mature vegetables per gram,” he said.
Red cabbage microgreens reportedly contain six times more vitamin C, 40 times more vitamin E and 69 times more vitamin K than mature cabbage, as well as other valuable nutrients.
Mr McDonald was a finalist in the WA Young Australian of the Year in 2016 before he completed his Bachelor of Sustainability at ECU the next year.
“The idea for my projects came to me when I was travelling; I would sit with people on the street and talk with them,” he said.
“They had little access to food and because I had worked on a farm growing food, I saw the potential for land to be better used.”
In between projects, he runs a permaculture orchard in Sawyers Valley and manages production of bush tucker at a farm in Mundaring.
His Facebook page asks the question: could we feed Perth’s entire population from within the greater Perth region?
He believes ultra-local food production would reduce the energy taken to produce food and through a combination of community projects and home gardens, combined with technology and under-utilised urban spaces, it may be possible.
For more, visit www.facebook.com/sociallyconsciousmicrogreens.