Earlier this year, the TEDx gathering of 2,200 people at the Sydney Opera House decided to put its money — or, in this case, its locally grown produce — where its mouth was. Springing from the Grow It Local movement, the idea was simple: Crowd farm the event by asking all of the participants to bring homegrown vegetables to help feed the crowd. Easy enough, right?

Sure… unless you're the chef. Aria Catering faced the real challenge of the proposal because the staff wouldn't know what ingredients they had to work with until a day or two before the weekend event. Further still, the TEDx attendees did not have ready access to things like meat, dairy, honey, and grains to contribute. No worries, mate. Area farms, dairies, beekeepers, and bakeries — and a brewery! — stepped right up with contributions of their locally sourced products because "TED's coming for dinner." 

In the end, everything from quail eggs to spring onions made the table. And, apparently, so did a palpable spirit of community achievement. The hot meal-time discussion topic was what each person had grown and brought. The participants who didn't contribute any ingredients to the feast dug through their initial shame toward inspired action, with plans to plant some sort of garden — even if only in a windowsill.

Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

Things I share: I seek. I write. I think. I roam. I listen. I care. I wonder. I help. I flirt. I try. I dream. I grow.