When mother of two, Georgina Prasad, took long service leave from her public service job last year to pursue a passion of healthy food, she never thought that within a single year she would be the proud owner of an online food marketplace and a mobile commercial kitchen in Canberra.
But interest in her business Homegrown Me is growing fast, both for its ability to provide an online space for foodies to sell products and share ideas, and as a rent-by-the-hour commercial kitchen space for start ups and market stall owners.
Homegrown Me online helps local produce and food businesses sell, exchange or giveaway their products. Listings are as diverse as homemade chocolates, muesli, fresh fruit and vegetables, tea, soups, flowers and skincare ranges.
It was while Georgina was working on this website that she discovered how many local producers were in desperate need of an affordable space to prepare their products. The majority were crammed in their kitchens or pleading with local restaurants for use of a commercial kitchen after hours.
Serendipitously, it wasn’t long before Georgina found Daana Indian Foods, who were selling their commercial kitchen in Westside Container Village (Acton). The Village is set to close from 30th April 2017, and many businesses which have used the container concept to test their menus are now setting up permanent restaurants elsewhere.
Wanting to help everyone she had spoken to, Georgina seized the opportunity and bought the container. It is already fitted out with a complete commercial kitchen including sinks, bench space, cooker, oven, refrigerator, freezer and more.
“There are places in Sydney and Melbourne that do a short-term hire of commercial kitchen space for market stall people and micro foodie start-ups,” says Georgina. “But in Canberra, I’ve only really come across expensive options geared more towards caterers.
This (Homegrown Me) gives people a highly affordable option with all the facilities they need, and it is also completely compliant with ACT health regulations.”
Foodies can now rent the kitchen from just $28 per hour (in minimum three hour blocks).
Once the Westside Village closes, Georgina says the container will simply be moved to a new location.
“It’s sad that the village is closing, but it won’t be stopping me! I’ll try to find a location as central as possible to ensure people who have stalls in the City, Belconnen, Fyshwick or even Bungendore can get easy access.”
Georgina, who is a passionate gardener and health-conscious eater, speaks excitedly about the whole Homegrown Me concept, and where she hopes it will take the local food industry.
“Think of the online marketplace like Etsy for healthy food. There are so many wonderful, creative people in Canberra and we are so lucky to have access to so much fresh produce. Our market stalls are second to none, and I hope that the online Homegrown Me helps facilitate more local trade, and the physical commercial kitchen gives people the space and facilities they need to run their businesses efficiently.”