‘From the soil to the plate’ might be a fairly new concept for some people but it’s not new for Chilean woman Milca Perez. Her grandmother was a farmer, so Milca grew up in an environment where there were lots of family gatherings on a long table, enjoying social connection and fresh food.
As a member of the Huon Valley Food Hub reference group Milca wants to make a difference in food systems in the valley, particularly for future generations.
“I am a mother, I have two little children, so I’m very worried about the future of the new generation, the disconnection that it can have with these cultural flavours like gathering, happiness of being together as a community.”
Milca moved to Dover with her husband and children after living mostly in big cities. After reflecting on how unsustainable their lifestyle was, they were determined to live more sustainably.
“We had been thinking about changing our lifestyle and since we became parents this motivation became more strong. Living in big cities, having a consumerism lifestyle, going out for food, buying the food, it got to the point where we asked ourselves are we going to continue this or are we going to change it and we make the decision to change it, that’s why we’re here.
“We love Tasmania, we came ten years ago for the first time and then we came back four years ago for three months. We volunteered in different permaculture farms around Tasmania with two little boys – two and three years old – they loved it and the farmers loved it too. They couldn’t believe that a family was doing that and that’s when we decided this is the place that we want to live.
“So we’re trying to build that dream but also, it’s very difficult because we have external factors like the weather for instance, and political issues you know.”
Milca has a background as a fashion designer, and she’s been involved in a lot of creative projects as an entrepreneur and has worked in community development. Last year she finished a diploma in sustainable living.
“I think the biggest challenges in food insecurity is geographic and climate change… In Tasmania we’ve been talking about food insecurity for the last 30 years so there’s nothing new here. What we’re doing is we are specifically working in the Huon Valley trying to solve some gaps and issues related to this geographic specific area.”
Milca believes a sustainable food system involves reducing transport costs, becoming producers in our own food chain, soil regeneration and using natural pollinators.
“I think we do have the tools, but we don’t have enough communication between the communities and that is something cultural… When we change something in the system it has to come from the heart, so if we really want to have access to healthy food, if we want to give our kids the skills to survive in the future, it needs to come from the heart.
“When the community all have this synergy to move forward then we can see the changes. Otherwise, if your heart is still blocked or selfish, it’s not going to happen even if you have a million dollars available.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Huon Valley Food Hub please contact Emily Samuels-Ballantyne, Huon Valley Food Hub Project Officer on (03) 6264 0300 or email email@example.com.