Hidden Harvest at Peppermint PepTalks


Illawarra-based group Hidden Harvest is on a mission to tackle food waste, one tasty plate at a time. Formed in 2015, the team holds pop-up events that spark lively conversation – transforming food that would have gone to waste into delicious feasts, and literally bringing the topic of discarded food to the table. Their new Pickle Pals project sees them training and educating young people in the art of pickling and preserving – and as the winners of our Sydney PepTalks Peppermint Pitch, they’re now sharing their wisdom here.

Tell us about your new pickling project.

The Pickle Pals collective brings together young people from all over the Illawarra to learn how to reduce their food waste through pickling and preserving all sorts of wacky – and normal – food items. This is important because Australia’s food waste is getting out of hand, with the average household throwing away a staggering $1,036 worth of food every year. This not only hurts our pockets – it also has a detrimental impact on our environment.

Currently there’s nothing quite like Pickle Pals in the Illawarra – it teaches young people valuable cooking and food prep skills, and has a positive environmental impact in reducing food waste. Pickle Pals will be self-sustaining – becoming an ongoing initiative as we use discarded food (so free of cost), and partner with local cafes and venues to host our monthly sessions.

What inspired you to get started?

We saw the need for a more hands-on approach to helping people reduce their food waste. In the past we’ve held numerous events to ignite the food waste conversation, and now we’re ready to start teaching skills for people to take back and practice in their homes. We hope to not only teach young people food preparation skills and give them confidence in the kitchen, but also have a collective environmental impact on reducing participants’ ‘food print’ – saving tonnes of food waste from ending up in landfill.

What have you achieved so far?

In our previous campaign, ‘More Taste Less Waste’, we diverted a collective amount of 4,344kg of food from landfill. This was a combination of using Hidden Harvest food at events, as well as participants recording what they had saved at home after events. This shows the impact we can have with only small tips and resources. In passing on skills, we think we can have an even greater impact.

What excites you most about the project?

We already have such a wonderfully supportive and engaged community. This new project let’s us share our skills with them, whereas before we could only share food waste tips, facts and the delicious food we’d prepared. This also lets us potentially start producing food waste products to sell within our local community – making Hidden Harvest a more sustainable social enterprise, as we can then funnel money into developing future food waste initiatives.