On July 1st, eleven years ago at our old warehouse in Beavers Road Northcote, Fair Food received its very first order.
The old warehouse is gone now, knocked over to make way for new townhouses. I ride past the empty lot on my way to work and wonder whether some of the new residents will get their groceries from us.
When I look at my calendar from this time last year, Zoë Fox was about to play her Live From the Packing Floor gig.
There’d be another four livestreamed gigs up on the warehouse mezzanine, employing musicians who were excluded from JobKeeper before infection numbers ballooned and restrictions restricted anymore shows.
Later in the year we’d support live music streamed from The Boite but it wasn’t the same as having a live band play as we packed everyone’s groceries.
Orders tripled again during the second lockdown – we put in long days and our 150 farmers, grocery makers and suppliers somehow kept us stocked – there would, however, be no toilet paper for weeks to come.
To help out on the busy packing line, stood-down teachers, café workers and managers came over from CERES main site in Brunswick East.
When we couldn’t do music gigs at the warehouse we decided we’d support unsupported artists in another way.
Animator Leonie Van Eyk and musician Dave Evans were employed to collect people’s favourite vegetable drawings, photos, poems and stories in an animation called “Hello Vegetable”.
In October after hearing news about stood-down migrant workers going hungry a pay-it-forward system began sending money to food relief organisation, Open Table’s, free fresh produce market.
So far you’ve paid forward over $20,000 – fresh food that could be cooked at home was never more important than during Melbourne’s most recent two week lockdown where casual hospitality workers were coming in numbers to the Free Food Market because they had no money to buy food.
In November we all joined together to help our friend and co-worker Mo get his smile back; raise $15,000 to reconstruct his mouth and replace his front teeth after a bike accident.
Then in December as the lockdown eased some of the people who came over from CERES Brunswick East went back to their old jobs, meanwhile, others stayed and have became part of our family.
January was quiet. Everyone was exhausted from the year that had past but February’s snap lockdown got the adrenaline flowing and took us straight back to 2020.
In March we sang, danced and celebrated the Harvest at CERES – one of the few face-to-face events that wasn’t cancelled.
In April, without fuss or fanfare, a Fair Food driver delivered our 500,000th order – David Cook, our website coder from the Open Food Network, picked up the milestone while installing new software.
In May we cut a gateway in our warehouse fence and went down to the Darebin Creek where elder Uncle Ringo Terrick welcomed us to country with his stories, a smoking and good company.
Come June there was another lockdown – which seems like second nature – others will along come but we know how to do this now.
And in the EOFY wash-up as we celebrate our eleventh year we see that through your support of Fair Food almost $700,000 will be donated to CERES.
This has, in no small part, kept education programs and the park in Brunswick East open for children and adults to continue to fall in love with the Earth together.
And for that we thank you – Happy Birthday Fair Food.
Have a great NAIDOC week,