PepperGreen Farm. More than Food More than Coffee.

Recently I met friends for morning tea in the cafe at PepperGreen Farm in North Bendigo. I was looking forward to sitting in the very comfortable old tram which originally operated in Melbourne but, unfortunately, it was not open to the public, due to renovations.

PepperGreen Farm is open for breakfast and lunch, with a range of seasonal produce to enjoy with hot or cold drinks. In better weather, visitors can share in the nostalgic old charm while sitting out in the garden.
The Farm sits on the site of the historical Chinese Market Gardens where my father often took me as a child to meet his dear friend, Mr Jan O’Hoy. When growing up, I remember a Vietnamese community, which was developing in Bendigo and Heathcote, cultivating herbs and vegetables in that same area.

PepperGreen Farm is a not-for-profit social enterrpise operated by Access Australia. It trains and employs people living with a disability in the areas of small business, horticulture, retail, tourism, hospitality, and creative manufacturing. A range of short professional courses is also offered to support skill development, as trainees learn on the job or use online delivery.

Visitors can make their choices from herb and vegetable beds or colourful flowers as they stroll through the kitchen garden, then purchase their freshly picked produce on their way out. A display of relishes and honey is in the retail space, with a range of furniture and garden items. All the proceeds go back into the upkeep of PepperGreen Farm and further employment opportunities.

Garden and cafe waste is composted and used back in the garden. The Farm is committed to using environmentally responsible farming methods and a range of recycling and waste reduction strategies. These introductions to sustainable living and the support of those who have special needs tie in well with the views of many, including Pope Francis, on two levels:

  • His concerns for the economic and ecological issues that we see expressed as we read, “Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor”;

  • His statements about disability in “Fratelli Tutti, 98” in which he says that many persons living with disabilities feel that they exist without belonging and without participating.

I am sure the employees and trainees at PepperGreen Farm would deny any feelings of not belonging or not participating, because they all work together to supply Bendigo’s local businesses and visitors. We were made to feel very welcome with big smiles and great service.

No! I don’t have shares in the business! But I know that Pope Francis would be very proud of what is happening in this little corner of Bendigo.

 

Mary Pianta
Disability Contact Coordinator
Diocese of Sandhurst