Food Is Free: Neighbourhood lane becomes hub for free food in Ballarat, Australia

A community in Ballarat, Australia have set up a lane in between houses where people can drop off or collect surplus nutritious food  – including veggies, fruits, and herbs – for free and connect with the neighbourhood.

Food Is Free Laneway was founded by Ballarat resident Lou Ridsdale, who set up the laneway alongside her home to share food with the local community, beautify the landscape, and to encourage community spirit. Along the laneway, people can leave excess food, seedlings, plants and even food scraps for composting on permanent tables. Anyone can take food for free.

Lou Ridsdale was inspired by the Food Is Free movement, founded by John VanDeusen Edwards in USA, as well as guerilla gardeners like Ron Finley.

Food Is Free Laneway has proven so successful with the local community since launching in 2014, that two years later, Lou Risdale established the not-for-profit, Food Is Free Inc. According to its website, “Food Is Free Inc. respectfully acknowledges the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung people- traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.”

More than 20 volunteers assist at Food Is Free Laneway throughout the week. In addition to general duties such as watering the plants and other garden tasks, the dedicated team of volunteers welcome visitors to the initiative.

Food Is Free Inc. now operates over two sites – Food Is Free Laneway and Food Is Free Green Space, both situated within a short walk of each other in Ballarat.

Community garden beds and a recycling area make up the Food Is Free Green Space. At the site, the Food Is Free Inc. team is hoping to create their own soil from the organic items that visitors leave behind, enabling the community to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Food Is Free Inc.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at 


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