A simple campaign driven by the popularity of a humble pub dish is spiralling into a groundswell of support for Australia’s farmers struggling through a cruel drought.
It’s called Parma For A Farmer. Eat a chicken parmigiana and registered pubs and clubs across the nation have pledged to donate a dollar for every one sold to the ‘Buy a Bale’ campaign, which is aimed at helping Aussie farmers, primarily by helping those struggling to pay the bills and feed their livestock.
Meanwhile, the #parma4afarma hashtag trending on Twitter and Facebook is proving fertile ground for spreading the word as more hotels and clubs join the fundraising effort.
The campaign is the brainchild of Amanda Kinross, who went public with her idea just over a week ago, and has since seen the Parma for a Farmer Facebook page going gangbusters.
On Sunday night, interest in the initiative from people and venues trying to register crashed the Buy A Bale website.
At that point about 100 venues had signed up – updated numbers and a list of participants isn’t yet available, because organisers have spent the day swamped replying to emails from more people trying to register.
Suffice to say the number of venues has now reached the hundreds, and if you’re at your local and that delicious combination of crumbed chicken schnitty topped with melted cheese and a tomato sauce nestled beside chips and perhaps a salad is on the menu, it’s worth checking if they’re in on the act — you just might have one more reason to order it.
Or check the Parma For a Farmer Facebook page — which shows posts from many venues announcing they’ve joined the cause — but be warned, there’s a plethora of pictures of parmas on there which will make you yearn to eat one immediately.
Ms Kinross, and English ex-pat who moved with her Australian husband to Australia 25 years ago, has been overwhelmed by the response to “what was just an idea”.
“A week ago, I was just a Mum,” she told news.com.au on Monday night, after spending the day fielding enquiries and snatching an hour to feed the kids (she didn’t give them parmas — “that was last night”).
She said her family aren’t farmers, but live in a rural area, and she had watched and read coverage of the drought with increasing sadness.
“One image – an interview of a farmer who was facing having to put down his starving stock and couldn’t even afford the bullets – just stuck with me,” she said.
“I just thought, there must be something simple we can do.”
Lying awake in the dark, she thought about what Australians loved “that maybe you could add a dollar to so they could contribute”. When the word “parma” entered her head, she paired it with “farmer” and thought “that can work”.
One Facebook entry later — picked up by her local Triple M radio station, who jumped on board to support — and the campaign has gone nuts.
Ms Kinross and her offsider John Ridsdale — a volunteer who offered to help when he saw the campaign — are now answering emails as quickly as they can, and hoping to get some help setting up a website on which venues can register state-by-state to show who is participating in each area.
“The local radio stations all over, and Rural Aid and Buy A Bale have been fabulous — although run off their feet,” she said.
Venues wanting to get involved should check out the Buy A Bale link, The Parma for a Farmer Facebook page, or email email@example.com.
The Australian Hotels Association is urging pubs nationwide to join the Parma for a Farmer campaign, as the movement gathers force on social media.
Chief executive Paddy O’Sullivan said pubs had a long tradition of helping out during tough times.
“The local pub is the heart of the local community,” he said.
“Publicans see themselves as a community facility where locals can all come together, and the local public is always a great centrepiece for the community in order for these sorts of causes to be supported.”