Food Connect – A Collaboration Between Local Farmers and City Folk
Food Connect is a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) enterprise based in Brisbane that distributes ecologically sustainable, affordable produce by collaborating directly with local farmers for a fair financial return helping the local region to be more food secure.
(Please note: A Community Shared Agriculture differs to a Community Supported Agriculture as the former is explicity a two-way relationship between farmer and consumer.) Their goal is to provide fresh, local, predominantly organic, affordable (their boxes are twenty per cent cheaper than the supermarkets), seasonal food with the best outcome for farmers, communities and the environment.
Food Connect is built on equity with customers buying a share in the harvest purchasing a minimum of four weeks boxes in advance guaranteeing a market and income for the farmer even if the crops fail while also ensuring people who are unable to adequately budget their funds to continue to eat healthily. The produce from Food Connect is sourced within a five-hour radius of Brisbane and they provide a range of boxes on a subscription basis offering a mix of standard, fortnightly and seasonal produce.
A side benefit of this CSA enterprise is that farmers can trial a wide variety of old traditional varieties that have disappeared from popular consumption. The operation has approximately thirty paid staff (with no volunteers) with only two pay scales – $15 p/hour or $17 p/hour. The CSA works by delivering food directly from the farmer to “City Cousins” (there were 80 City Cousins at the time of publication), delivery points based across the city that are usually family homes, community centres or schools. These delivery points save time and complications for drivers, cut food miles and reduce emissions related to vehicle use.
Additional innovative factors of this scheme includes establishing an Australian-wide young farmers support program and a “supported mutation model” to help further replication of the Food Connect model. Food Connect also has the intention to establish a land trust to buy land back from developers with Food Connect to act as a custodian. At the time of publication, Food Connect in Brisbane had approximately 1,500 active consumers purchasing around 900 boxes of produce each week. They were also planning to establish another branch in Melbourne in 2009.
For more information about Food Connect visit their website at www.foodconnect.com.au.
This is from “Social innovations in Victorian Food Systems’ case studies by Ferne Edwards.