He calls himself “The Baker”. His labour of love is the Mixed Dozen. Find out how this local initiative is using food as a point of connection and how it is bringing the community together in this Q&A.

What is Mixed Dozen?

A Mixed Dozen meal is a celebration of the local and of neighbourly ways of being. It captures the old essence of swapping tomatoes over the back fence and brings people together to consider ways to repackage that. In a superficial sense, Mixed Dozen is a meal. But, it is more than that. It is spirited, playful and driven by a desire for us all to reconnect with the local. You can get more of an insight by reading our manifesto.

Who set up Mixed Dozen and why?

I established Mixed Dozen and brought together an unlikely cohort from the Uniting Church, social enterprise organic food distributor CERES Fair Food and ideas consultancy Project Synthesis. Collectively they had the resources we needed. We need to change our relationship with food and as a consequence with each other. We idolise food. We hold it up on some sort of Instagramic pedestal. Food is to be celebrated, but celebrated in a way that gives us joy and that feeling the Dutch call gezellig – an atmosphere that knows no time. A feeling of sharing and belonging and working with each other for and around food. This is what locavore food movements are about. It is not just about sustainability or supporting local economies or knowing that your food has been ethically produced. It is all that. But, it is the stuff that binds all that together that Mixed Dozen is most interested in.

Tell us about some of the recent Mixed Dozen initiatives/events

Mixed Dozen runs playful, spirited meal events. We have run over 10 events in the last 12 months and we are exploring ways to further build community around the concepts of locavore food. This is why we created Mized Dozen: DIY and we are going to launch a grants program. Our meals are about giving communities and meal makers agency – we want people to be empowered and recognise that they are best placed to be the ones to make change. So, offering a DIY model and grants is the natural extension to the meals we run.

mixed dozen meal

What sort of meals and local produce does Mixed Dozen promote?

We promote meals that are as locally sourced as possible, that is why it is important to have CERES Fair Food as a partner. They have a terrific existing network of providers, but also an audience who appreciate and value locally sourced, organic produce. Guests frequently are bringing along food from their own gardens and we encourage and support this. We also value those who make their own products and delicacies which they offer to a local community.

What community members does Mixed Dozen attract?

Mixed Dozen has been delivered in its current form, as an invite-only affair based around local communities in Melbourne. It attracts people of all ages – we have had babies attend meals with their parents, we have had retirees, we have had young people arriving on their bikes and city workers coming straight from the office. What connects them is the desire to commit and explore and share in the local and start a new conversation.

Do you have a favourite food and why?

My favourite food is any food that is made by someone else’s hands and shared with me. Obviously, I do a lot of cooking and baking myself, and value someone else doing that work – but importantly it is the time and effort and the giving that I think connects us as human beings to each other. And, that forms community. That is why I like my food that way.

bread - making it

What food issue gets your goat?

At Mixed Dozen, we are not big fans of waste. The lack of composting and effectively redistributing or repurposing food waste is another aspect of the locavore food movement that is really important.

How can people get involved?

People can register their interest at the Mixed Dozen website. There they can sign up to be invited to a meal, but they can also download our Mixed Dozen Handbook in the DIY section and have a look at any grants that might be available to support the delivery of their own local Mixed Dozen meal.

Find out more. 

Youth Food Movement