Green Hip’s empowering and all-encompassing community is continuing to grow! We are always thrilled to meet new members of the Green Hip Tribe and what a treat it was to learn more about Kelsie’s journey into the permaculture world. Everyone comes from such unique and inspiring backgrounds, each with their own story to tell. In this week’s blog post we deep drive into permaculture and The Common Ground Project.
Lets talk about food...
Kelsie grew up on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsular and was close to her Grandma who is a passionate Gardener. It is her strong connection with her Grandma that drew her into the horticulture world at a young age. Kelsie’s passion for creating a sustainable future is obvious from the moment you meet her and you are instantly engulfed with her warmth and radiant smile.
Kelsie began her career in the hospitality industry but after many years of working with food and coffee and a stint in Interior Design she decided to study permaculture and horticulture at CERES in Melbourne. Kelsie is also an artist and since leaving high school has been commissioned to create works of art as a side gig. Creativity must be Kelsie's middle name! Working on the land has a very particular creative element and her decision to move into a new industry was only just the beginning of her passion and adventure to learn more about regenerative agriculture and horticulture. Kelsie has a strong connection to the earth.
After studying permaculture and horticulture Kelsie worked for an indoor plant company which she loved but was looking for something meaningful and then the universe presented itself; Common Ground Project. If you haven’t visited Common Ground Project in Freshwater Creek, it’s a must. The café is located on a farm 15 minutes drive out of Geelong, Part of the Mulberry Group, Common Ground Project was created to foster and support people who work in the hospitality industry. It’s a social enterprise and their delicious meals are a reflection of their commitment to rebuilding a conscious food system that nourishes people and the planet.
It was identified by the owners that mental health of hospitality workers needed more support and combining aspects of permaculture, regenerative agriculture and natural farming as well as cooking food, was one of the answers. The Café was the place that hospitality workers from far and wide who could come to work outdoors and re-invigorate their lives ready to get back into the kitchen.
With Kelsie’s hospitality background and the allure of the country life, Kelsie started working for Common Ground as a Bar Manager 4 days a week and 1 day a week on the farm, when COVID-19 hit and the Café was temporarily closed, Kelsie was asked to work on the farm full time which was Kelsie’s dream! Unfortunately due to COVID-19 the outdoor program had to slow down but it’s only a speed hump that won’t stop the project. Instead, they put their energy into creating fresh vegetable boxes grown on site and engaging with the community. Through the food hamper program they identified there was the opportunity to have a fortnightly farmers market where community can mingle and connect, learn and share.
The way of the future…
Over the last 18 months Kelsie and her colleague Simon have toiled and improved the clay soil and over a short period of time doubled the produce section of the farm. They turned a baron, over grazed paddock into a natural farming dream. Producing vegetables inspired by permaculture systems using crop rotation, companion planting and designing and implementing systems for accessing natural resources in ways that benefit both humanity and the environment.
Common Ground has also allowed Kelsie to work with multiple groups of refugees through a program in collaboration with Diversatat and also a pilot program working with school groups from MacKillop Education. She has a thirst to learn and teach the principles of permaculture and passing on her knowledge has been incredibly rewarding. It’s often not identified how much you really know until you start passing on your knowledge, a skill she has learnt from her Grandma.
Be sure to check out Common Ground Projects website and social media pages for upcoming markets and company developments.
Common Ground Project Website: https://www.commongroundproject.com.au/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/commongroundprojectaustralia
Instagram: @common_ground_project @kelsiecoombes