Sandy Melgalvis | Common Ground Project

Getting your hands dirty
by Sandy Melgalvis

Sandy is the head chef at the soon to be open Common Ground Project in Freshwater Creek south of Geelong. She has previously worked at Top Paddock as head chef and in the kitchens of Red Door Corner Store and Ladro.

I’m excited to introduce the Common Ground Project a social enterprise café and farm that uses bio dynamic and regenerative farming practices. All of our proceeds are being donated to sustainable agriculture and mental health in hospitality.

Our core values are underpinned by sustainability; therefore, we are working with numerous local farms and producers. Common Ground Project is starting with extremely damaged and depleted soil that we will need to give back to for quite some time before we start taking from it - but that is all a part of the regenerative story.

Our goal is to educate not only other chefs but our customers and their children on the significance of knowing where your food comes from. This starts with the soil our produce is grown in - then to making more ethical and planet conscious decisions.

We are living in a day and age where too many people are being criticized for not taking enough action around planet conscious decisions, when in fact every effort made small or large should be commended. This is what we want to focus on, the positive steps we all make every day.

Each day on the farm is started with meditation and then a gratitude exercise. This encourages the team to start their day by focusing on something positive.

Mental health has become so prominent in an industry fraught with high pressure, long hours and unfair pay. The Mulberry group have done a great job of giving us the space to create a safe, healthy, balanced and mindful environment for not only the staff but the hospitality industry as a whole.

Access to the farm will be through subscriptions and to start will be available to a small number of venues that can provide their staff with access to the land and the farmers knowledge. Their staff – predominantly chefs - will spend a day a week getting their hands in the dirt and learning about bio dynamic and regenerative farming practices. The venue will also receive weekly veggie boxes.

I can’t wait to share this project with everyone.

If you would like to connect with Sandy to know more about the project, send her an email at sandy@commongroundproject.com.au