by Tori Moreton  
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About Magic Harvest

Magic Harvest is a program that assists groups to learn together how to grow and cook food. Everyone grows food in their own backyard in one square metre plots or in boxes on balconies which means Magic Harvest can be run anywhere, by anyone. 

Currently the program is being run by community groups, schools, workplaces and neighbours. From two Hubs in a Pilot Program in 2010, Magic Harvest has grown to over 200 Hubs across Australia in 2015.  Many Hubs are run by individuals self-funded just using the idea as a way to connect to their neighbours, many more are funded by councils and organisations running programs for community development, food security, health and wellbeing aims. 

Changing the way we eat through growing some of our own food can be simple and enjoyable when we do it together.  The Magic Harvest program works to create confident home food gardeners and cooks in one season through a series of workshops, field trips, passing it on and swapping produce all based on simple growing, cooking methods and a bit of magic!

Background on Magic Harvest

Magic Harvest was created by Tori Arbon (Producers) to support home food gardening and cooking everywhere - especially for those most in need and with no experience. 

:"Good food is accessible to everyone when we grow our own and prepare meals from scratch.  Yes, but we don't... 'no time, don't know how, too hard to start, no skills, no interest'!

There is loads of information available on what we should eat (often conflicting and confusing) and plenty of how-to books and websites on kitchen gardens but not much practical help on hand for taking that first step in setting up your own healthy home harvest.  Magic Harvest provides the motivation to start and local support to keep going.  Feeding ourselves can be done with ease and pleasure, and ultimately with celebration. 

Magic Harvest creates that local support group where we can learn and share our skills. Learning about food in the garden, around the table with our family, friends and neighbours.

The Magic Harvest Program uses simple methods to great effect.  My ideas evolved from the back of an envelope scribble to a functioning project with lots of help from some gifted individuals that excel at simplicity.  My collaborators include the inspirational food gardening educator, writer on food security and promoter of community garden programs Lolo Houbein, it was her stunningly simple yet brillliant gardening plots described in One Magic Square and Outside the Magic Square (published by Wakefield Press) that gave the project both shape and the name. 

My neighbour, the wonderful food gardening educator, organic seedling grower and supplier, Diana Bickford of Bickleigh Vale Organics shared her invaluable advice and robust seedlings. 

The program adopted visionary Jamie Oliver's 'Pass It On' as a great way to spread these skills in the community. 

Harvest Cooking is learning from the ground up - starting in the garden and using instinct, flavour and passion.  We learn how to really cook rather than follow recipes - no 'cooking classes' we use hands-on workshops learning basic 'from scratch' skills that allow anyone to prepare anything they grow in the garden.

The Pilot Program in 2010 got off the ground with great help from staff of the Neighbourhood Development Team at my local council The CIty of Onkaparinga, headed by Megan Guster.  Initial and ongoing support came from the Health Department's OPAL program coordinator Terri Lamoree.  This government collaboration provided the essential connection to community, shared local vision, expertise and vital funding. 

I created the 'Do It Yourself' guide book in order to assist groups anywhere to create their own Magic Harvest Hub.

The Program's success was greatly assisted by the screening of the documentary Magic Harvest commissioned by 2011 Adelaide Film Festival's Director Katrina Sedgwick, creatively produced by Julia de Roeper of JDR Screen and beautifully brought to life by filmmakers Jeni Lee and Sieh Mchawala

As more groups start their own Hubs daily and train their neighbours to run yet more Hubs I am reminded of the power of working together and making a difference with small steps. 

From little things, big things grow!"

Happy Harvesting!

Tori Arbon (nee Moreton)

Testimonials

'Magic Harvest has changed our life, what we eat, and our whole attitude towards food!' 

Jeremy, Participant since 2010

'Through Magic Harvest I have learned to grow my own produce, and also how to cook it and am now quite good in the kitchen and it has become a passion of mine to pass it on to other people'  Allan, Participant since 2010

"The Magic Harvest project at Huntfield Heights, Hackham West and Noarlunga Downs this year is focussed around community gardens as the neighbourhood hub.  This not only provides inspiration, connection and encouragement for magic harvesters and their endeavours in their home gardens but brings activity and invigoration to the community gardens"

Megan Guster, Senior Community Development Officer, City of Onkaparinga

'.... Magic Harvest is the future of Community Gardens' Richard Schirmer, Community Development Officer, City of Onkaparinga (from Magic Harvest Training DVD testimonials)