Fabian Capomolla is a successful author, TV presenter, co-creator of the Little Veggie Patch Co. (since sold) and, more recently, The Hungry Gardener. He also presents Green Space on the Realestate.com.au Lifestyle channel. All these activities, however, have one thing in common – and it’s not a quest for fame or riches.
Instead, they’re all designed to empower people to grow their own vegetables or herbs – not as an end in itself, but so they can experience the effect that it has on how food tastes and how it makes them feel. Ultimately, it’s food that Capomolla is passionate about.
His interest encompasses the entire arc of food production and, in the process, turns into a philosophy. Get food production right, he says, and so many pieces of the puzzle that determines people’s happiness fall into place.
He’s seen first-hand, for example, the tranquillity instilled in troubled minds or stressed bodies from tending a garden. And his contagious energy is testament to the health impacts. Food also brings people together, reunites them with the state of the natural world, and binds them in shared cultures, he says.
Then there are impacts on how we design cities, especially in relation to green spaces; it’s an understanding Capomolla is now leveraging into a mission.
“In Australian cities, we’re so far removed from where food is grown that it affects how we treat and process what we eat,” he says. “The best-tasting foods are grown with love. But what we’ve become accustomed to is food grown to service the needs of retailers, including the need for long shelf life. We need to push back.”
While many may share his passion for food, few master the trick of pursuing their passion while achieving business success. Capomolla did graduate from Monash University with a degree in business administration, but he readily admits he chose the degree with no clear idea of what career to pursue.
“What I got out of university was not a career path, but the ability to learn and apply myself,” he says. “It’s important to have goals, of course, but I find it helps to remain fluid and open to change, to unimagined opportunities. I’m not a fan of the business plan.”
Like his gardens, he grows his businesses organically. With The Hungry Gardener, he continues the mission to “grow more gardeners”, but the venture is also drawing him down new avenues, such as education-based activity.
That includes revisiting his relationship with Monash, but not with any campus in Australia. The son of Italian migrants, he’s spent a year in Lucca, Italy, reconnecting with his family’s roots. In the walled city in Tuscany, he’s discovered a different way to configure the relationship between food, culture and landscape that keeps calling to him. Now, he’s throwing out lures to the Prato campus in Italy.
He urges: “Do what you are passionate about and the money will follow.”
For a fortnightly email digest of stories from Lens