Su Dennett

The honey dripped off my sourdough toast and I licked it off my wrist. The honey is from bees pollinating the fruit trees in the orchard, and the flour is milled from grain from an organic farm, eighteen kilometres away. The bread is baked in an oven f ired with wood from the trees around the property; any leftover scraps go to the chooks, who provide eggs in return. This is closed-loop eating, and it’s all about good permaculture design – having the right things in the right place.

Su Dennett has been sourcing, cooking and serving fair food for three decades. Su’s kitchen is at the core of the Melliodora Permaculture Farm, Hepburn Victoria, and feeds up to twelve people on a normal day; and dozens more when the house is open for public tours. Her deep commitment to ‘being the change’ means that much of the food she serves travels just a few metres to her kitchen, making ‘food miles’ almost irrelevant.

Every food source is considered, including weeds and trees on public land, and every opportunity is taken: Su can do things with food that most permies throw away – carrot tops are part of the salad, and dried broad beans are a staple. When the parrots learned to get the walnuts before they were ripe, Su organised a team to pick them green for pickling.