Tina Kao - Chippendale Food Cooperative
Founder of the Food for the Future Fair, Chippendale

Tina Kao has dedicated her career to organizing local initiatives that teach residents the importance of green living.

“Professionally, I dedicate a lot of time to sustainable community projects and events that encourage the community to do sustainable things. It’s personally something that I am very passionate about,” says Kao.

In 2008, Kao organized Chippendale’s first Food for the Future Fair, which taught local residents how to plant their own vegetable gardens, while educating them about their origins of food.  

It’s about bringing the community together to make sustainability fun and engaging. We invited as many local food suppliers as possible within a 160-kilometre radius to come to Chippendale to sell their produce. We sold gardening books and plant shoots, and showed residents that there is an alternative to buying all of their groceries at big supermarket chains.

- Tina Kao

The first Food for the Future Fair in 2008 attracted between 5,000 and 6,000 people, and the second fair in 2009 attracted 8,000 people. In fact, it was so successful it sparked the formation of the Chippendale Food Co-operative, which now delivers more than 30 organic food boxes every week, and runs a weekend grocery outlet on Kensington Street in premises donated by Frasers Property.

“Sustainability is about making small steps and changes and encouraging families to engage their kids to in sustainable activities. A lot of people go green when they have children and realize, ‘My life is not just about me, it’s about my children and their future’,” says Kao. 

Other sustainable initiatives in and around Chippendale include the ‘Chippo dollar’ (a local incentive to help small businesses sell their wares), community gardens, and The Watershed Sustainability Resource Centre, which is located on King Street in Newtown. 

Kao believes Central Park will contribute to Chippendale’s sustainable future: “Cities have an inevitable need to provide office and residential spaces close to the city. By bringing people closer to where they work, there are less vehicles on the road, people can walk to more places, and travel shorter distances to work.” 

As for Tina’s dream for Sydney: “I would love to see a whole array of community-initiated events that engage people in sustainability. That’s absolutely the way to get people into action by showing them ways to make their lives more sustainable,” she says.

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