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MamaBake

by The E.A.T. Team

Hannah bonded with the MamaBake parrot.. maybe.
 
ON THE MENU 
Beef Stew
ON THE GLOBE
Lennox Head, Australia
ON THE TEAM
Michelle Shearer, MamaBake founder

Working together benefits our friends, our families, and our children.

MamaBake is a community of mothers who cook big batches together so that, at the end of the night, each mama goes home with a few ready meals to serve her family that week. At a most basic level, it saves a busy mom time and frees her from relentless kitchen duties for a bit. On another level, it’s about bringing women together and building a community, experiencing a strength in numbers, and bonding over food. What started as one small group on the east coast of Australia has exploded into pop up communities worldwide.

We found MamaBake via facebook during our 17-day campervan trip up the east coast, and messaged them asking if there were any MamaBake meetups going on. Within an hour, we had an invitation to dinner and a home to sleep in from MamaBake’s founder, Michelle Shearer.

“WHAT?!” thought Hannah and I in amazed unison. Overwhelmed, once again, by the kindness of strangers and the wonder of the power of the internet, we quickly closed our gaping mouths and worked out a time to meet.

After two cold and stormy nights sleeping in our campervan, walking into Michelle and Steve’s home was a true treat. It was also an entertaining circus! One of their parrots swiftly landed on top of my head and made itself at home, nestled in my hair and bit my ear. Their sweet baby boy ran around screaming, throwing puzzle pieces, and force-feeding us tortilla chips, and his older sister happily modeled my glasses while recreating a truly superb LA valley-girl accent.

We sat down to Michelle’s gorgeous Beef Stew dinner with them and a couple of friends, including the lovely and talented Australian surf artist Christie Rigby. We learned a bit about what it takes to be a mum, MamaBake’s history, and how to harness the power of “strength in numbers”. Read on.

What was the idea behind MamaBake?
It all started when I was given a lasagne and that made me think immediately of wanting to reciprocate the gesture. I thought about mothering and how we don’t really like to receive help. As mums we like to give the impression that we’re OK, so it’s more like a transaction than a ‘Thank you very much’. There’s not much of a community around motherhood, there’s no real connections. If you look at how the tribes are doing it, women are always working together. In today’s society the numbers of mothers with depression and mental issues after childbirth is surprising. MamaBake is bringing community home and back to where it needs to be. When mothers bring that home they actually find themselves liberated. It’s so simple, try it and see what happens! It’s group big batch baking and it’s gone bonkers across Australia.

How did you come up with the name ‘MamaBake’?
I guess it was fairly self-explanatory. It really was the first thing that came to mind.

Do you do it here in Lennox Head?
Yes. We do it here in this house. We’ve got groups all over.

When was the first one?
The first one was in February 2009.

What was the first strand and how did it spawn in to such a huge movement?
It started in real life with a group of 4 people. Those 4 people told their friends.

How did the idea of MamaBake spread?
It started here. I posted a group on Facebook and it grew from there. I guess people just thought it was a good idea and talked about it.

Did you intend to start such a big movement?
Not really. I’m just a small part of something that represents a much bigger picture. I think we’re all looking for a new way of doing things. We’re sick of striving for the wide screen TV.

Do you enjoy cooking?

It started in real life with a group of 4 people. Those 4 people told their friends.

I do enjoy it and I enjoy raising my kids but there are days when you just need a break.

I can imagine it’s isolating to be at home so much of the time taking care of children?
Yes it can be. Many mothers have moved away from family and friends and we tend to bunker down when we have small children. MamaBake brings much needed community and support where it’s needed most as well as lightening the woman’s domestic burden.

Do you make sure all of the food you’re making is natural?
We [MamaBake] get together groups of women and they work out between them what their food values are; it might be a group of women who are really passionate about organic produce, then there might be another group whose main goal is to cut costs.

Its hard to really know what a mum does until you are one. How do people know how to be before motherhood happens?
Exactly! We should be telling people now and forming communities. I believe that it’s my generation who is bringing mums together. The next generation will bring the previous generation in to it too. What MamaBake is doing is demonstrating how community can work together. Sometimes we have over 40 women come together plus all of their children, they are there seeing their mothers working as a group, that’s a really powerful legacy.

Sometimes we have over 40 women come together plus all of their children, they are there seeing their mothers working as a group, that’s a really powerful legacy.

So the idea of MamaBake is not about food but about the sense of community it brings? Working together to make something greater than the individual part?
It’s bringing the meaning back to mothering. It’s absolutely essential to every point in our society. It’s bringing it home. We’re focusing on the cooking as food is a chore that mothers have to think about all the time. You can’t quit just because you’re tired or sick, you have to keep going, you need community and other mothers to back you up. Working together benefits our friends, our families, and our children.

 

 

For more information on Mamabake, visit:

The Mamabake website.

The MamaBake on facebook

And don’t forget to check out MamaBake’s Big Batch Recipe e-book Cookbook

 

Special thanks to Michelle, Steve, the Shearer kids and Christie Rigby.


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