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Tag Archives: food security

Tucker Patch Open Day kicks off on Sunday – free fun for everyone

Make a day of it at the Tucker Patch. If you’re in NSW and at a loose end this weekend the TuckerPatch Open Day is on this Sunday, 21 April. There’s all manner of fun to be had for the entire family, with entertainment by Bec Willis, seasonal produce on ... Read More »

Welcome to Sydney Food Fairness Alliance

2013 promises to be a busy year for SFFA with the release of the Federal Govt National Food Plan due, and the alternative ‘ grass roots’ People’s Food Plan launched by the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance. SFFA will play an active role in the discussion about what kind of food future we want and how we need to shape it now. Join us to be part of it! The Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA) is a network of consumers, rural producers, health professionals, community workers and advocates who want to see food security for all within a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable food system. Read on for SFFA's aims for 2013 Read More »

Goodlife Food Co-operative: a thriving local community addresses food security

The problem

Since the 2013 floods that ravaged the East Coast of Australia, it has become abundantly clear that Australia’s current system of producing and consuming food is endangered by such extreme weather events. Large-scale market systems are simply not adaptable to change. The region has experienced three 1/100 year floods in just three years, causing farmers in Queensland more problems and heartbreak than ever before. While banks and insurance companies move in to take over farms, the big super market chains post record profits. How can this be? The age old debates on Climate Change have been silenced, we know now what we are up against. It’s time to look for solutions.

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A real solution

The Sunshine Coast’s Goodlife Food Co-op offers a real solution where people are working together to source quality food that is produced locally. The Co-op’s recent inaugural whole-group meeting was about celebration, reflection, and planning for the future.

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Celebration, reflection and planning

On a rainy night in mid February, 45 people politely scramble to take their seats in Coolum Community Hall.  A call goes out for a working laptop, somebody dashes for an extension cord. The scent of a still-warm upside-down pineapple cake wafts gently across the room. Mouths water as ears strain to hear over the thundering of the rain on the tin roof.

A gentle hush hovers as an air of anticipation moves around the circle.  People of all ages have gathered to discuss principles of co-operating in the context of sourcing and sharing good food. Tattoos mix with business shirts, dread locks mingle with grey hair and wrinkles. Farmers sit side by side with the very people who eat their produce.

It’s time for the ice-breaker. “Please tell us your name and your favourite fruit or vegetable”, and the meeting is underway. The individual co-ops in Mudjimba, Coolum and Peregian summarise their experiences in 2012. And there’s a whisper about a new Buderim group, starting up imminently. The Finance report is followed by an item of no less importance: a Brisbane co-op can lend a canning machine so that fruit and veg gluts no longer mean wastage - think tomato chutneys and onion jams! Questions are posed, promises for working bees are made, and hands are raised to help. Co-op farmers are acknowledged and sincerely thanked, for in one year we have collectively cracked 12,500 eggs; chopped 10,000 tomatoes; peeled 7800 bananas; and fried 800kg of mushrooms.

For some, this is the first time they have met our Co-op farmers, while others are old friends. New members mix with experienced old hands. Children laugh and babies babble, tummies rumble and brains tick over. Slowly we work through the night’s agenda.

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Good food

At last, “It’s time to eat!” Legs find springs as everyone dashes for a plate. Smiley faces are met with heaped spoons of delectable dishes and tantalising delights that members have contributed: freshly prepared breads, Dahl, vegetable curries, lasagnes, quiches, dips and rice. And a few indulge in lovingly prepared home-brew. Taste buds dance, as conversations flourish amongst those eagerly waiting in line. Then quiet descends as bellies are filled, and it’s not long before seats are taken for what promises to be the most important part of the evening.

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Brainstorming the principles of co-operation

Hands go to pens, and pens go to sheets of butcher’s paper blu-tacked about the room. Voices layer on voices as members get down to business. Discussions break out in small self-selected groups, and community is weaved into co-op principles, whilst farmers discuss logistics with mothers. Important tasks are formed into working groups: ‘finance’, ‘the computer system’, ‘communication’ and more. However it’s the paper marked ‘future growth’ that draws the most attention. For here we are building the framework, setting the roots if you like, for a system that is resilient, sustainable and healthy. A system developed by a community for the community. A system developed by farmers and their consumers.

Inspiration mixes with productivity, reflections of the past blend with dreams for the future, as something slightly magical unfolds in the room. People are working together, taking control, taking ownership of a system many thought we couldn’t change.  As members stand back proudly to display their colourful butcher’s paper, sneaky giggles are heard from behind the white board as the youngsters join in too. Soon the room fills with the sounds of clapping and laughter as each group unveils its contribution to the system.

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All too soon we are saying goodbye, and thanking each other for a successful meeting. There are plans for more similar get-togethers.

A willing community

And as you look about the room, healthy bodies and vibrant minds reflect people’s devotion to abundant, fresh, local produce. Smiley faces and recently-filled bellies tell the story of a community willing to make change, willing to work together to take back their power over the food they eat. This is a community willing to adapt and co-operate for a GoodLife.

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To find out more about the Not-for-Profit Goodlife Food Co-op, please contact:

'Good-is-Better' blog reflections

The meeting was very capably facilitated by Tilly Hinton who blogged here about what it meant for her.

So, what about you?

Please share your own co-op experiences in the Comments. We'd love to know what you think are the key 'success' factors in being part of a co-op, and what challenges co-op'ers need to be aware of.

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Meet the real organic food heroes with Costa

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Costa hosts The World’s Biggest Organic Feast The Sustainable Living Festival is in full swing, with over 300 events running throughout Victoria. Whether you’re a passionate advocate for environmental issues, casual green thumb, intermittent recycler or romantic designer, the Festival has something for everybody! This year, the Festival is asking ... Read More »

Treat yourself – & the planet – to a day at the Sustainability Festival

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It’s all systems go for Melbourne’s Sustainability Festival The Sustainable Living Festival is set to kick off in Melbourne with vege swaps, sustainable garden tours and art exhibitions, setting the scene for three weeks jam-packed with events. The festival aims to  raise awareness of, and provide tools for sustainable change ... Read More »

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