Coast, community and kai

Jono and Saras adding the finishing touches to the food at the Raglan Old School Arts Centre Photo: Catherine Fry

Real estate agent Jono Hutson and artist Saras Howie share a passion for community, health and vegetarian food.

Throughout the summer of 2020/21, the Raglan couple served delicious food from what locals call the Tiny Shop - a 2.8 square metre shop squeezed between Trade Aid and Bohemian Gypsy on Bow Street.

“I grew up in the Hare Krishna movement,” explains Saras, “and vegetarian meals are eaten communally.

“I remember helping prepare meals with others as a child in India, and I loved that feeling of community.”

Saras has been a vegetarian all her life, but for the first year of their 17 years together, Jono cooked a different meal for him each night, before he happily became a vegetarian.

“You have to be organised to eat a plant-based diet,” says Jono, “but you don’t need meat if you are doing it right.”

Eat a Rainbow is a nod to how to approach a plant-based diet, by eating as many different coloured vegetables and fruit as possible.

“Saras is an amazing cook, and for a while we were cooking healthy, good quality vegetarian food and doing a lunch and dinner delivery service in Raglan,” says Jono.

“When we stopped everyone really missed her flavoursome dishes. Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be boring!”

“It was really hard to find plant-based food in Raglan,” adds Saras. “There is such a demand for it, and it can be expensive. It feels wrong that healthy food is so profit driven.”

When the Tiny Shop on Bow Street became available, the couple saw an opportunity to start providing meals again. On most Sundays during the summer months, Saras and their helpers prepare the food in the commercial kitchen at Raglan Old School Arts Centre, and Jono takes it all by car to the Tiny Shop, unloads and serves it up.

A koha or donation is asked for, and people bring their own bowls and cutlery.

“It’s not about the money,” says Jono. “It’s about getting healthy food out there to people.”

“It opens it up so everyone can try plant-based food, whatever their budget is,” says Saras.

It’s a community effort, with Jono and Saras providing their time and many of the vegetables from their own spray free veggie garden. Soul Food Farm regularly donate their quality produce, and other donations come in through the community.

The Tiny Shop is used by other creatives during the week, and they make donations to use the space. For more information, check out their Facebook page – Community Kai and Craft.

Any excess money is donated to a Raglan charity.

During winter, the couple are hoping to serve plant-based soups with bread.

“We want to continue that real community feel and gathering of people,” says Jono. “It’s our contribution to maintaining Raglan’s magic!”

Eat a Rainbow can be found online by visiting Facebook.com/EatARainbowInRaglan

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