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A Love Affair With Food – Mat Pember’s “Garden to Plate” Passion

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on December 4, 2015

Mat Pember comes from an Italian background, and spent much of his childhood in his nonna’s veggie garden. These experiences would eventually inspire his love and passion for vegetable gardening. He is now inspiring others to create and maintain their own vegetable and herb gardens even amongst the complexities of modern urban life, through The Little Veggie Patch Co.

After living in Spain for four years, Mat returned to Melbourne and worked as a landscaper, where he “fell in love with working outdoors and working with my hands.”

“Fortune would have it I had a French roommate, Silvan, who would grow his own food,” he tells me.

“We would talk incessantly about food and eating, and it was at that point when I rediscovered my passion for growing my own food.”

Mat and Silvan took on the niche opportunity of starting their own edible carpet landscaping company, realising that there was a definite shift towards the slow food movement, as well as a change towards where people wanted to spend their money.

“People were really thinking about the food that they were eating,” Mat insists. He believes that just like him, people want to have more of a food adventure.

“It used to be go to the market, get the food, bring it home, start cooking and the adventure starts in the kitchen,” he tells me.

“Whereas now people are starting to get an adventure which begins in the garden. Many of us are so confined to our busy “indoor lives,” the opportunity to go back into a garden environment is so amazing and beneficial!”

Mat grows his own vegetables as he loves the “garden to plate” experience, as well as the crisp, fresh taste his food has as a result.

He explains that the fruit and vegetables that we get in markets and supermarkets today aren’t sold in season. Rather, they are picked when they’re really ripe, and are stored in zero oxygen rooms for around 12 months.

“So the produce now has maximum shelf life, but lacks in taste,” Mat claims. “Food is being produced not for the consumer but for businesses and for transportation.”

His passion for food, the garden and beautifully tasting vegetables is undeniable. I have never heard anyone get so excited about “vegetable porn.”

“I have this book and it has the most amazing images of tomatoes,” he tells me with excitement.

‘There are orange, yellow, green, black, purple and even red ones. And then there are big ones, gnarly-brained ones and little thin ones. It is just incredible, and I think that’s the most exciting bit about what is happening at the moment, which is people getting as excited as me when I open this book of tomatoes. Food truly is what drives us all. It is prevalent in every culture and so when you suddenly go from horrible, meek food to food of great diversity it’s going to uplift everybody!”

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