#Sow The Change
What is From Paddock to Plate?
From Paddock to Plate (FP2P) was founded by Walkley Award-winning journalist Louise FitzRoy in 2008. It is a national food education platform designed to conquer the rural-city divide and ensure that ALL school students have the opportunity to learn where their food comes from. FP2P supports Australian farmers, increases awareness of locally produced foods and fibre, educates people about the origin of foods, encourages healthy eating and assists to combat childhood obesity, improves mental health and wellbeing, reduces food waste and food miles, provides social benefits and a sense of community and inspires careers in Agriculture.
FP2P includes a unique national Schools Program developed to meet the Australian Curriculum requirements for Year 7 to Year 10 students in the subjects of Maths, English, Science, Geography, Design & Technologies, Food Technology, Home Economics and Agriculture.
Food education is critical for everyone, not just those students who choose to study Food Technology, Home Economics and/or Agriculture. The comprehensive Program currently includes 9 virtual excursions (videos on specific food and fibre industries), 108 comprehension worksheets, 126 teacher manuals (case studies, fact sheets, news articles, research projects, experiments, recipes, cooking tips, useful words and phrases), 4 DIY school garden videos, over 50 recipes and student certificates. Louise’s vision is to see this Program become part of the Australian Curriculum and a compulsory learning requirement for all Australian students in Year 7 to Year 10.
The From Paddock to Plate book (a collection of delicious homemade recipes from farmers across Australia accompanied by their stories) and the Paddock to Plate app (that instantly connects users with local farmers to source entire ingredient lists to cook a variety of recipes) are also part of the expanding FP2P program.
FP2P’s core value is to embrace and drive change to make a difference using integrity and passion.
Where did you get your love for food come from?
I grew up on a beef and sheep property in northern New South Wales. From a young age I was knee-deep in dirt planting seeds and harvesting vegetables (apparently I excelled at growing Jerusalem artichokes - we always had far too many to know what to do with!) and helped my family take care of our animals. Food was always associated with happy memories. A fun day on the farm was coming home covered in blackberry juice from picking berries all day or racing the birds for the apples to make homemade apple crumble.
Why did you choose “food” as your way of communicating to people and what do you see in today’s culture, especially in Australia, that makes it more relevant?
Food is an integral part of everyone’s lives, everyday, and farmers produce our food. There’s nothing quite like sweet ripe strawberries or juicy red tomatoes to get someone’s attention. My job is to turn this focus back to the origin of the source, the farmer. Without this local farmer, you will not have access to these fresh and tasty foods. It’s very simple.
As changing weather patterns, prolonged drought and water scarcity become more prevalent in Australia, food security is becoming far more relevant. Communicating the importance of supporting our farmers, buying their produce, eating locally-grown foods and encouraging healthy appetites, inspiring careers in agriculture, reducing food waste and food miles and increasing sense of community (all objectives within my national FP2P Schools Program) is essential. If we don’t start changing our tune, Australian farmers won’t have the support they need to stay financially viable on the land. They will disappear and so too will our luxury of having unlimited access to fresh, healthy and delicious food.
How do you select the recipes that you share in your website and book? Any particular type of cuisine or is simply the flavours that you like?
The recipes on the FP2P website and my FP2P book are strongly influenced by farmers across Australia and the food that they grow.
As an ABC Rural reporter travelling the country, I spent many an afternoon in a country kitchen watching eagerly as farmers cooked recipes handed down through the generations using their produce. It was uncommon to find a recipe actually written down, so I would watch carefully over their shoulders writing down whatever measurements I could so that the recipes could be included in the book. I can assure you that you won’t find these recipes anywhere else. They are truly unique and capture the fresh flavours of Australia down to a tee.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your enterprise so far?
Educating teachers about why food education is important for every student at a school regardless of subject and year level has been my biggest From Paddock to Plate challenge.
I understand that teachers are already pushed to fit the curriculum requirements into their teaching schedules. That’s why we’ve developed the FP2P Schools Program to meet the Australian Curriculum requirements for Year 7 to Year 10 in eight subjects. For example, a Year 8 Geography teacher can replace a section of their curriculum with the FP2P Schools Program and still cover the learning requirements of that subject and year level while educating students about where their food comes from at the same time. Pretty cool, hey!
This opportunity has never been offered to teachers in Australia before.
What is the biggest reward you have experience in your enterprise so far?
Listening to children who have experienced the national FP2P Schools Program excitedly explain to their parents about where different foods come from and how they are grown, as they recite a fun fact or a hilarious section of a FP2P ‘virtual excursion’ that they watched in class that day, has been extremely rewarding.
The impact that FP2P is having on society as a whole is so heartwarming and makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth it. It’s taken more than eight years to be where I am today and to know that the awareness of food origin around the average dinner table has increased tenfold makes me jump with joy.
What is your favourite recipe?
You must try the tomato chutney recipe from Bacchus Marsh tomato grower, Sam Dellios, on page 232 of the From Paddock to Plate book. It is sensational!
‘One specialty that has everyone talking is the fruit affectionately known as “Grandpa’s tomatoes”. And don’t expect to find them anywhere else, because bets are you won’t. No one knows where this variety of tomato originated from or what the variety is called – not even the Dellios family! “The only way we’ll find out is if we get them tested, which I probably will because people keep asking me.” This is the first year the tomatoes have been available to consumers, but they’ve been a staple of the Dellios family’s diet for years. So long, in fact, that it’s unclear how Grandpa Dellios, who came to Australia from Macedonia, got his hands on them in the first place.’ – From Paddock to Plate, page 230
Thank you Louise.
Louise FitzRoy is founder of the amazing education platform, From Paddock to Plate. she is also a walkley award-winning journalist, abc radio presenter, author, food writer and educator, public speaker, local food and sustainability ambassador and proud country girl.