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March Against Monsanto: Melbourne

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on May 23rd, 2013

25 May , 2013
2:00 pmto4:00 pm

March Against Monsanto

This event is for the fight for our food!! We deserve to know what we are eating. Food sovereignty and food security starts with us. Biotech companies are slowly killing the world with their patented seeds, domination of the distribution of food and deadly DNA interrupting chemicals, which we ingest everyday.

The day commences at 2pm, we have expert guest speakers, acoustic entertainment, a seed swap/giveaway and public discussion forum…it’s going to be huge!

328 Swanston Street Melbourne

>> March Against Monsanto global site

>> Melbourne’s March Against Monsanto facebook site

People’s Food Plan: Public Forum

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on October 15th, 2012

21 October , 2012
2:00 pmto4:30 pm


>> Melbourne Forum October 21
>> Bendigo Forum October 24th

New Fairfield Farmers’ Market: Saturday 15 September

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on September 14th, 2012

15 September , 2012
9:00 amto1:00 pm
Source: Melbourne Community Farmers’ Markets

Poster via

From the MCFM newsletter:

You asked for it, so here’s the low down on our newby market in Melbourne’s north…

Fairfield Farmers’ Market had a previous life run by other management and feedback from customers and stallholders alike was that they couldn’t work out ‘what was wrong’ because it had such potential in a great part of town. We were offered the contract late last year and, after hearing the stories, we figured the main concerns that seemed to exist were integrity and quality. So the first thing to do was address those issues by working on accreditation for the market through the Victorian Farmers’ Market Association.

As a result, the market bounced back to life in May and things are looking up! Despite some challenging weather, we have had a great customer support and the feedback is very satisfying. It’s not surprising as the stallholders are a brilliant bunch, some you’ll know and others are getting a new opportunity at a city market.

Our plan for Fairfield (and the new markets in the pipeline) is to be smaller in number, just as much variety but without the duplication of stalls. The current vegie growers Spring Creek Organics and Somerset Heritage Vegetables have started the ball rolling with brilliant winter staples but look out for asparagus this Saturday with broad beans and snow peas coming very soon.

In fruit we are lucky enough to have Marie and Chas Harding from Hardings Orchard in Pakenham join us. They offer many old fashioned varieties of apples and pears including Winter Nellis pears, Golden Delicious and Fuji apples. Beenak Farm biodynamic kiwis are very popular over winter as is The Orange Lady’s range of citrus. That’s got Vitamin C covered! Berries are returning in summer…mmm.


You may have heard the hype from across town and now it’s official…MoVida Bakery is joining Fairfield from this month, offering Spanish pastries and specialty breads. They use local free range eggs, Victorian flour, citrus, butter and fruit.

And in dairy, many of you will now know Simon Schulz and his Friesian cow’s milk; thick, rich and straight from the farm at a fair price (not $1 a litre like the duopoly offers shoppers with nothing for the farmer). Schulz Dairy also have skim and unpasteurized milk, quark and fantastic yoghurt. Simon has also introduced us to his Timboon neighbour Mattieu from L’artisan cheese who’s now a Fairfield Farmers’ Market regular with his superb hand crafted cheeses.

Brekkie while you shop is covered with Janet’s chai stall, The Little Coffee Van, Taiwanese pancakes, hot baked bikkies, Betty’s BBQ and the school parents’ Dutch pancake stall.

And there’s so much more, so why don’t you pop in on Saturday morning and see the rest for yourselves?

When: 3rd Saturday of every month
Where: Fairfield Primary School, Wingrove Street, Fairfield
Time: 9.00am – 1.00pm
Cost: Gold coin donation for specific kids’ school projects would be appreciated

Investing in a fair food supply: Insight from Britain

Posted in Opinion by Kate Archdeacon on July 25th, 2012


Photo by Sue Peacock via flickr cc

From Food prices are at the mercy of global pressures that we struggle to control by Jay Rayner:

“But if it doesn’t happen, if Britain doesn’t do more to feed itself, if it doesn’t do more to support struggling sectors such as the dairy industry, we will be left at the mercy of the international markets. The food price rises we would see then would be excruciating.”

The British like cows. We like to see them in fields and regard the dairy industry as much more than merely a part of our food system. Rolling green fields filled with the familiar dots of black-and-white Friesian hide are a key part of our cultural identity. Which explains why, late last week, Twitter came alive with demands from far beyond the farming community for us all to get behind the nation’s dairy farmers in their fight for a fair deal. The announcement by the major processors of a 2p per litre cut in the amount they would pay for milk has pushed the farm gate price well below the average of around 30p per litre cost of production. Dairy farmers, who have been suffering for years, are being pushed to the edge of bankruptcy.

The irony is that too many of the problems in the British dairy industry have been caused both by patterns of consumption by those very same consumers who are leading the charge and by the way they have connived, albeit passively, with the supermarkets to keep prices low. But that is only a part of the story. For the problems experienced by British dairymen are actually representative of something much, much bigger: it’s about the way our national food supply has been left at the mercy of huge international pressures from increasingly volatile food markets.

If the dairy industry were simply a vertical business model involving the retailers paying the cost of production to farmers plus a little bit more, these issues would not exist. Unfortunately it isn’t. The price of milk is dependent on the European market price for its cream component and it’s the value of that which has collapsed. In June of 2011, it was £1,800 a tonne. Now it’s just over £1,000 a tonne. A sudden surge in demand for dairy in the past few years as a result of an emerging, milk-loving, middle class in China resulted, almost inevitably, in global over-supply. Few of us drink whole milk these days and the skimmed-off cream – sold to the cheese, butter and yoghurt markets – has become a vital part of the business model for the processors, which needed it to offset the brutal deals offered by the likes of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. It is the collapse in the value of cream that those processors are now passing on to the farmers.

Of course, in an ideal world, dairy farmers would break their contracts with those processors and find a different model, but they can’t. They have nowhere to go.

The savage, grossly irresponsible way the supermarkets have forced dairy farmers down on price has also put independent processors out of business. And consumers, apparently delighted to pay £1.18 for a four-pint bottle of milk, haven’t helped. Indeed, for all their talk, consumers show huge reluctance to pay more. For 15 years, Booths, the small, family-owned supermarket chain in the north west, has offered Bowland Fresh, a brand of milk sold at a premium – 52p a pint as against 49p – all of which goes back to the farmers. It accounts for just 10% of sales and has never gone beyond that.

The way a little-known international market in cream is impacting upon dairy farmers here is not a one-off. Our food supply system is now entirely global and exactly the same shocks are being felt elsewhere. In May, as the G8 met at Camp David to talk about plans to tackle chronic malnourishment in the developing world, concerns were expressed that commodity prices were heading towards historic highs not seen since the food price spikes of 2008, which resulted in murderous riots and export bans across the world.

Late last week, those historic highs were breached. In 2008, corn spiked at $287 a ton; last week, spurred on by drought conditions in the American Midwest, the futures price went to $340 a ton. In 2008, soyabeans hit $554 a ton; last week, a ton was costing just shy of $660. For the moment, the prices of the primary food security crops – wheat and rice – remain down on historic highs, but there are fears that if the corn harvest suffers further, then prices in wheat and rice will follow.

These are not abstract issues for money men and markets. They affect people at the bottom of the economic heap. Right now, for example, there is an acute food deficit problem in Yemen. People are starving in their millions. Children are dying. The problem is not a lack of food. There is food in the country. It is that the economy has collapsed to such a degree and food prices have risen so high that people cannot afford to feed themselves. Aid groups such as Oxfam say they are as likely to be handing out hard cash in Yemen right now as they are food aid.

In Britain, we will also feel these shocks. For example, corn and soyabeans are primary livestock feed and with the Chinese and Indians ramping up their meat consumption the cost is bound to shoot up.

The real issue is that, just as with the dairy industry situation, we have no protection from this price instability because of the behaviour – once again – of the British supermarkets. In the early 90s, the UK was more than 70% self-sufficient in food. Today, many experts believe we are down to just 50% self-sufficiency. The reason: the major supermarkets have been so vicious on prices paid to farmers that huge numbers have left the industry.

Pressed on the issue, the British Retail Consortium, speaking for the multiples, points to a recent report listing the grants they have made to fund studies on environmental sustainability and waste-reduction. This, they say, proves supermarkets are investing in British agriculture. Nonsense. It’s pennies compared to their vast profits and nothing compared to the imperative of paying British farmers a fair price so they can genuinely invest in British agriculture for the future. This may mean price rises for the British consumer, and in a week when we have heard more than we may ever wish to about the boom in food banks, that may sound unpalatable.

But if it doesn’t happen, if Britain doesn’t do more to feed itself, if it doesn’t do more to support struggling sectors such as the dairy industry, we will be left at the mercy of the international markets. The food price rises we would see then would be excruciating.

Be in no doubt: the current crisis in Britain’s milk business is not an isolated incident. It’s a warning.

>>Read the original article by Jay Rayner on the Guardian.

True costs of imported food in Australian supermarkets?

Posted in Movements, Opinion, Policies by Kate Archdeacon on June 1st, 2012

Source: Food Magazine

Photo by Tait Schmaal in an article for Adelaide Now about the damage imported processed food is doing to local growers.

From “Where does the food sold in Australian supermarkets really come from?” by Jessica Burke:

One in every four grocery items now sold in Australian supermarkets is private label and of those, about one in two is imported.

The Age has conducted an investigation into the state of the supermarket sector, and the results would not surprise anyone in the Australian food manufacturing sector. It found the rate of imported food products is increasing at a rapid pace, as the only way for the companies to provide their ridiculously low prices is to buy food produced in countries by cheap labour.

South Africa and Thailand, two countries notorious for lacking in workers’ rights and having extremely low wages, are two of the markets commonly used by the cheap food retailers in Australia.  Researchers from the Australian National University embarked on a mission to follow the supply chain of many private-label products sold in Australia, which found them in South African fruit processing factories and canned pineapple facilities in Thailand. “One of the canneries made private-label products for over 100 supermarkets,” researcher Libby Hattersley, who inspected the South African businesses, told The Age. “They just slap the retailers’ label on it and send it out to them.”

Differing food safety laws a risk for consumers

While the ethical issues involved with sourcing food from such countries are becoming increasingly important to consumers, there are various other issues involved with these systems.

“[No Australian food manufacturers] can survive in this environment, most places I’m going, they’re even competing with their own plants in other countries, if the Malaysian or Chinese plant is going better, they have to compete,” Jennifer Dowell, National Secretary of the Food and Confectionary division of the Australian Manufacturers Workers Union (AMWU) told Food Magazine earlier this year.

“The problem with that is that people aren’t comparing like with like.

“We produce food to a very high level and what is being imported from overseas needs to be the same quality.

“There needs to be more regulation and better testing for what comes into our country.

“If food is imported from a high risk site, like China, that will undergo testing, but not if it’s from New Zealand.

“The way the import laws work in New Zealand mean that they can import a product from China, put it in a bag in New Zealand and ship it to Australia as a ‘product of New Zealand.’

“If we try to export to other countries we face huge barriers, but we have removed all the barriers for others getting food into our country.”


Read the full article by Jessie Burke for Food Magazine.

Growers and Eaters Forum

Posted in Events by kdonati on March 27th, 2012

23 April , 2012

Photo: Shari Mcdonald

Some of us are growers, but all of us are eaters. And we all want to eat well. In the face of an uncertain economic and ecological future, what does a truly sustainable food system look like?

A collaboration between Cultivating Community and Slow Food Melbourne, the Growers and Eaters Forum will bring together farmers and food experts committed to healthy and resilient food systems for the future. Food cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, farmers markets, urban agriculture and poly-farming are all on the menu. The all-day event will celebrate innovative projects and initiatives that are creatively reshaping relations between growers and eaters, valuing the people and communities who produce our food.

Conference registration includes a long, slow lunch featuring produce and wine from the region.

Keynote speaker and US farmer and author Michael Ableman will address how we can feed the future and present his ideas for achieving real change in the food system. Other inspirational speakers include Les Cameron, Goulburn Valley Food Cooperative; Carol Vincent, South Australian Farmers Federation; Neil Barr, author of The House on the Hill and Rod May, Captain’s Creek Organic Farm.

Monday, 23rd April 2012, 8.30am-5.00pm

‘Gravel Hill’ Salvation Army Complex
65-71 Mundy Street, Bendigo VIC

For more information: