Earthbound was born in 2019, the child of Luke & Rach McGregor-Allen. Luke, a hospitality veteran turned aircraft engineer, and Rach, a primary school teacher, began Earthbound with a simple and clear vision to hold a space, open to the community of Eltham town and its surrounds, and to serve decent, honest food.
Luke wrangled fresh produce into his menu, changing seasonally, anchored in his belief that a dish should include simple ingredients and no additives (and particularly, garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander - his staples), with a major vegan focus.
Invited to be part of the movement were local suppliers, local not-for-profits, local writers, musicians, Kutcha Edwards, local artists and makers. Taken by the space, Trevor Hay wrote Earthbound into his book The Tengu, a tale of the loneliness masked as the idealised solitude of Roy, who lives in the dwindling bushland of the outskirts of Melbourne, lured back into society by his migrant neighbours and their wonderful food. Much, we think, akin to Earthbound itself.
On a family holiday to Nambucca Heads, awed by the town and not enamoured by the idea of another bitter Melbourne winter, the McGregor-Allen family happened upon a new chapter for Earthbound, lovingly titled Earthbound Bowra for the street it lives on. The search began to find the folks who would continue with the Earthbound vision.
What started as a conversation over wine between two friends, Andrew & Simone, quickly became a reality.
Andrew, a chef recently divorced from the fin-tech corporate world had been wondering: where to from here? He had been on a mission for years to minimise his environmental damage, striving to reuse or recycle everything he could, eating a vegan diet (although he would say veganism is a lifestyle.. in fact he did, loudly, at least five times whilst we were writing this), and certain that someone's purpose had to be more than their salary, or lining the pockets of others. How can something be genuine when it provides nothing back to the community who grew it? Growing up as part of a minority group in Scotland, and having been determined since the dawn of time to hold space and stand together with other marginalised groups, and also a casually obsessed craver of Luke's amazing food.. Earthbound seemed liked the perfect opportunity.
Simone, mildly opposed to vegan food until she actually ate it (she pulls a face during writing because she regrets her years long opposition and protests about tofu being 'rubber' or something.. because that's all vegans eat), a fully cemented-in Diamond Creek trader who owns the classic Fossick, was looking to build further on her ethos to bring people together regardless of their backgrounds, ages, and stages.
Between the two's individual ambitions, it became apparent that Earthbound was the space that they were both looking to hold, and, a space they hoped that the community so in love with Earthbound would hold them within. And so it became a conversation again about how to build personal ethos into business.
We won't lie, that one wasn't too funny.
We are so blessed to have been able to keep Earthbound alive during a period that was so fractious for so many.
Working like a hive, our Earthbound family, Here For Ya, Mate, and the local community flanked us through Melbourne's second lockdown - a time like nothing anyone living has been through previously (and, dare we tempt providence, will never have to go through again).
We used this time to connect with our regular patrons (whom we barely got to know before being plunged back into closure), to help build our friends at Here For Ya Mate's vision of community kindness, to be a vehicle of connection for families separated by travel restrictions and for people for whom lockdown was especially challenging, and we took the time to learn who our people really are, and plan for our future. What we saw throughout Melbourne's second lockdown was really affirmative for us, and told us that we were in the right place with the right people.
Simone has said often that this was the outcome of my dedication to Earthbound, output and good choices - I disagree. I believe our survival during this period is a debt of gratitude owed to our community - a group of people who, having met us perhaps only a couple of times, stuck by and supported a pair of virtual strangers to help us continue what Luke & Rach began inn 2019, a vision of community, togetherness and equality.
We can't say thank you enough - thank you for supporting us, thank you for believing in Earthbound, thank you for continuing to guide us and cheer each other on as we clean up our side of the street. Thank you for the conversations, for the friendships, thank you for the laughs, for sharing the peaks and troughs, the bartering, sharing and trading.
Our food is real, and made from fresh ingredients. We can tell you the ingredients list - our team will never say 'I'm not sure, let me check with the chef.'
Our dishes are made simply and lovingly.
We know where our produce came from, and it is never genetically modified, it is always fresh and of high quality.
We'd never screw anyone else for our own profit.
Our coffee comes straight from the growers through to Wild Timor, so there's no tracing to source required - it's origins and fairness are clear, and our growers are being treated fairly and correctly.
Our retail items are all ethically sourced and provide real income to people who need it.
We don't buy our ingredients or our produce from people who use unsustainable practise to produce.
We are on a mission to reduce our waste; we recycle all recyclable items, we store and recycle our soft plastics, our food waste goes back to our friends at The Veggie Empire.
Nothing can ever be perfect, but we are doing everything that we can. We know we can do more; as we figure out what these things are, we are doing them.
If everyone does their best, we'll chip away at the problem. We're trying our best to be clean.
Everybody out there has a story.
Our small shop is a space for everyone to share theirs.
We tolerate no discrimination, everybody is welcome. We recognise that an inability to 'see' is as problematic as its opposition; our community thrives on discussion, openness and love. We recognise that some groups may need a hand up to begin the discussions that are important to them; our privilege is to provide that to them. We stand together as one.
Our space is one for discussion, for empowerment, for philanthropy, charity and kindness.
Anything less, in our books, is unacceptable.
Copyright © 2020 Earthbound Bolton - All Rights Reserved.
The Earthbound team wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land that we live and work on, and we pay our respects to the elders past, present and emerging. We strive to continue learning, building and working together on land that always was, and always will be Aboriginal land.