Can you change a community through food? These women thought so and now we have Harvest Launceston to tantalise our tastebuds and connect our community with the people who grow our food. Founder members of Harvest Launceston, Mary Mulvaney, Kim Seagram and Kim Hewitt, met with Devita Davison of Food Lab Detroit during her visit to Launceston.

Devita Davison, a native of Detroit and granddaughter of a preacher, lived almost 19 years in New York before moving back to her hometown of Detroit in 2012. Her words are not just letters strung together; they are vessels for love and fight, heart ache, wisdom, and profound joy. To say she wears her heart on her sleeve is an understatement; whether decrying injustices in the food system or expounding on the beauty of a ripe strawberry in summer, her passion for food justice is palpable.

Devita Davison is the Director of Marketing & Communications at FoodLab Detroit, a nonprofit organization that works to provide entrepreneurs with technical assistance, workshops, resources and the skills they need to start and grow a strong values-based food business. FoodLab is committed to serving low-resourced entrepreneurs of color and sees good food entrepreneurship as a way to build power and resilience for traditionally marginalized people and communities and promote environmental sustainability through business practices and civic engagement by entrepreneurs.

Devita propels the growth of FoodLab Detroit by planning, developing and implementing all of FoodLab’s marketing strategies, communications and public relations activities, both external and internal.

She was previously the Community Kitchen Managing Director for Detroit Kitchen Connect, a network of shared, commercial kitchen spaces that provides community resources and an array of industry-specific services to burgeoning food entrepreneurs.

Devita combines her passion for culinary arts with activism and entrepreneurship. Devita has worked with the Brooklyn Food Coalition, facilitated workshops for the WKKF Foundation, spoke at the Just Food Conference, Netroots Nation, TEDxDetroit and the BALLE conference. She has a BS in Social Science from Michigan State University.

Devita writes on local food systems and has been quoted in the media including: Civil Eats, Policy Link, The Detroit News and Urban Innovation Exchange.

Devita spent 6 days in Launceston to take part in the Food Justice in the Suburbs workshop, proudly supported by University of Tasmania, Northern Suburbs Community Centre, RedCross, Life Without Barriers, Business and Employment, Starting Point Neighbourhood House (Ravenswood), Tas Dept of Health and Human Services.

It has been designed for organisations and individuals who are interested in ensuring that everyone living in the ‘suburbs’ has access to good, healthy food. The workshop delved into:

  • The role of social enterprises in achieving food justice
  • Engaging people power to shift the food system
  • Using economics to engage decision makers

Monday evening a public event, Feeding change: Creating a community of food innovation and entrepreneurship in Launceston, was held at the School of Architecture and Design, with Devitia appearing alongside speakers Dr Roger Stanley of Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, Sally Milbourne of The Cultivate Group and Louise Morris of Rebel Foods Tasmania.

Listen to Devita and UNSW food researcher Luke Craven speaking to Belinda King about the collapse of manufacturing jobs in Detroit when GM Holden closed down left lots of people not only without jobs, but without access to healthy, fresh affordable food. But a bunch of people had a vision to start businesses that would not only get jobs going, but were centred around fresh food.