A couple of weeks ago I went to Bendigo to the Community Food Hubs Conference. I’ve been going to local food gatherings like this for 15 years now and as I drove up the Calder my inner-curmudgeon grizzled, “Haven’t we said it all before?  Is there actually anything left to talk about?”

I’m sure it’s no different in any movement where change happens over decades, how easy it is to get fatigued, to not want to hear once again about the crisis we’re in; how the forces of big business are against us, how the government is disinterested, how the public put low prices ahead of principles, how our natural systems are barely coping, how overwhelming everything is!

I registered at the desk and walked in fearing the worst, but my ears pricked up hearing Jade Miles (that’s her above) talk about how the Beechworth Food Co-op feeds 800 Beechworthians a week. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – Beechworth has a district population of just over 4000. I did the calculations and it equated on a Melbourne scale to a food co-op feeding 800,000 every week. Holy cow share I thought!

Jade told the story about how Beechworth Co-op started with a handful of people. How they had to move shops three times.  How when the town supermarket closed the co-op filled a hole.  How more and more people came and it went from a place you could get a few basics to having hundreds of different products on the shelves. How it’s become a regular local hang out and sometime education centre and most amazingly how it’s all run by a dedicated group of 17 volunteers. It blew my mind.

Through the rest of the day as I listened I was reminded that actually a lot has happened in the past 15 years.  These days most kids have a veggie garden in their school, there are farmers markets, direct buying schemes, produce swaps, community gardens, farmer incubators all over the place.  And although most people still shop at the big supermarkets, unlike 15 years ago, they now know how badly they treat farmers and how they underpay their teenage sons and daughters who work at the checkouts. Which all just makes it that much more likely that when a friend suggests starting their own food co-op they’ll say “Yep, bugger them, let’s do it!

That night at dinner I saw all the old and new faces who have been working on changing policy, teaching courses, chipping away at all the projects that keep this date, almond and coconut ball of a movement rolling along and I said a quiet thanks to the Community Food Hubs Conference for reminding my inner-curmudgeon that there’s always more to talk about.


 

New Asian Cooking Box coming this Thursday

Just a quiet heads-up for this Thursday – due to lots of requests in this year’s Fair Food customer survey we’ve put together a box that features key Asian ingredients like coriander, chilli, ginger, garlic, Asian & other veg, lemons & limes.

We’ll be adding the Asian Cooking Box to our Set Produce Box line-up on Thursday 25th August (sorry you can’t buy one till then).

Read more … 

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