Keeping relevant in today’s fast-paced, convenience-focussed world is a hard task, as many business owners will know. Prahran Market is no exception.
Founded in 1864, it is the oldest fresh-food market in Australia, and has over the years catered to numerous generations of loyal Melbournians. Central to the market’s success has been its ongoing commitment to supplying the finest-quality fresh produce.
Another essential factor has been the Market community’s willingness to adapt to the times, and to seek new ways to appeal to its audience to ensure it secures ongoing loyalty from the next generation. Reducing the venue’s environmental impact is one such initiative that has been achieved through the introduction of the Soilfood™ System following a sustainability audit.
A food waste disposal unit was installed at the market to be filled with the organic waste that is produced daily by the many different market stalls. The food waste machine is sustainably designed to slowly dehydrate the material until it forms a nutrient-rich, slow-release, soil enhancer - Soilfood™.
A total of 1,200kg of food waste can be processed into Soilfood™ each day at the Prahran Market. This volume of material is then reduced by a drastic 85% - a transformation that concentrates the matter into a potent and easily-distributed soil-conditioner. Only a small amount of around 100g-150g per square meter are needed to gain positive results.
The final food waste product is not a result of composting but classified as an organic fertiliser which has been tested numerous times across farms and domestic gardens and has proven benefits for growing healthier plants thanks to its high levels of nutrients. Lab results have reinforced these findings, revealing that Soilfood™ contains elevated levels of nitrogen not found in standard compost and fertilisers.
SESL senior soil scientist, Declan McDonald, states that Soilfood™’s “nutrient status positions it in a similar category to dynamic lifter and it should be used in the same fashion,”. For the benefit of green-thumbed market-goers, the final Soilfood™ product can be purchased onsite for a gold coin donation.
It’s a fantastic outcome for the Prahran Market and it’s tenants, who can be comfortable in the knowledge that they are both reducing their carbon footprint and their financial costs, plus giving back to the broader community at once using the approach. For some stall holders though, the rewards haven’t stopped there.
The Prahran Market includes three specialty florist and garden-specialist traders. For these small business owners, the Soilfood™ produced through the market’s food waste recycling system has presented an opportunity to engage in a highly sustainable and circular initiative.
By taking up to 7 tonnes of Soilfood™ per month offsite and back to the farm where they grow their produce, one enterprising florist is enhancing their product with a material that would otherwise be sent to landfill if not for the Soilfood™ System. Once that product - beautiful bunches of flowers grown locally - is ready to be harvested, they are transported back to market and sold into the community.
It’s an outstanding result that amplifies the core values of Prahran market - to supply the best fresh produce daily - while also helping the organisation to reduce its impact on the environment, and give back to the community.