Local. Seasonal. Ecological Food Direct From Your Farmer

News & Events

We've got your Xmas sorted

We are so excited to announce that this year we have partnered with some of our favourite people and are bringing you the solution to all your gift giving headaches! We have two beautiful hampers small and large that include the gorgeous cookbook from Real Food Projects and a selection of local artisan products from Ugly Duck Preserves Olsson's Salt Urban Honey and more. Click here to order. Limited numbers only. Delivery available or pick up from the homestead. Yours in ethical festivities! The Food Connect Team p.s. We are also welcoming corporate orders of 5 or more with a 10 discount. Email our wholesale team to organise. p.p.s. Only 7 weeks to Christmas!!
November 13, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Food Citizens Unite!

Hi Food Connectors! We've been talking a lot about food citizens in the office this week and what that means for our local region's resilience. Coming up with ways that people can participate more in the world they want is always on top of our minds and we've been reflecting on the Principles of CSA and continue to look for ways to walk the talk. Luckily we're seeing a lot more people taking part in the effort so there's something for everyone. Events like Snubbing the Supermarkets will be an exciting way to get more information about who's who in the fair food zoo. There's also our Buy Local Twilight Hub Markets - we had so much fun the first time we're putting another one on! And of course if you want to really get a feel for being part of a local ethical food system you can put your money with your values and learn how to eat with the seasons of South East Queensland! We're offering you a rare chance to become a subscriber and enjoy a little bonus too. Enjoy!
November 10, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Week 45 E-Farmie

All the latest news from the homestead Click here to read
November 4, 2017
Posted by: Tan-Ni Clancy

MORE THAN PORK ON YOUR FORK

MORE THAN PORK ON YOUR FORK Something that's very dear to our hearts here at Food Connect is the ability to bring you the story behind the food that you consume. Meet Randal and Juanita Breen from Echo Valley Farms who have been supplying us with eggs since 2015. We love their philosoply of "Practicing the 4 Goods - Good for the animals Good for the land Good for the farmer and Good for you". Their hens roam outdoors all day every day! But lets talk about their pork. Bushranger pigs - pasture raised - rotationally grazed on native forest country. Their diet is supplemented by chemical-free grains and get this......SAUERKRAUT from our mutual friends at Gutsy Ferments! Echo Valley have teamed up with Garry from Elite Meats in Boonah to process their meats. Garry uses traditional butchering methods and hangs his hams for a much longer period than most. So when you receive your ham rest assured that a whole lot of thought and care has gone into it's production from raising the pig to producing the ham. Wait till you taste it! ORDER NOW
November 3, 2017
Posted by: Tan-Ni Clancy

Wk 44 E-Farmie

News from the homestead Click here to read
October 27, 2017
Posted by: Tan-Ni Clancy

Twilight Market

The Food Connect Foundation proudly invites the Brisbane community to buy really local at a series of Twilight Hub Markets this year. Featuring our incredible food makers operating out of our Community Kitchen as well as other local and talented sellers with food gifts and music. The first Twilight Hub Market will be held on the evening of Thursday 2nd November to give shoppers an ethical alternative to their normal Thursday night Christmas shopping.
October 26, 2017
Posted by: Tan-Ni Clancy

We are now a proud B Corp!

Food Connect joins the B Corp Movement Today we re incredibly proud to announce that we recently earned the status of a Certified B Corporation . As a reflection of our values and operating principles we wanted to share this important news with you. In a nutshell here s what it means What is a B Corp B Corporations are a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. It s like a Fair Trade certification but for a business not just a bag of coffee. There are currently over 2 100 Certified B Corporations from 130 industries such as textiles solar energy and law. Here in Australia Food Connect will be keeping good company with Patagonia Stone amp Wood and SilverChef. We are proud to join them in redefining success in business so that one day everyone uses business as a force for good. Why did Food Connect become a B Corp While many of you know us as a Social Enterprise that amorphous entity that sits between corporations and nonprofits we believe that a certification instrument can set the bar for business that has a higher social purpose beyond simply profit. B Corp reflects the values upon which our company was founded 13 years ago and our operating philosophies today. We became a B Corp because we believe that doing business goes beyond the financial performance of a company. So what are some of the practices that earned Food Connect this Certification - 100 of our products come from local small-scale suppliers who are fairly paid - We have a 2 1 wage ratio between the highest and lowest paid employee - Unique community food distribution system shortens the supply chain - Zero food waste through food processing poorer grade produce and composting - 40 of total power consumption is generated by our rooftop solar array Why should I care Our business model which supports a community of small family farmers at scale is showing how business can redefine success and build local living economies. B Corp certification provides accountability and a roadmap to become an even better company over the years. We know that you care about your community - we do too. Beyond just delivering the best local food we re focused on doing our best for our community. Time to top up the piggy bank To celebrate our B Corp certification we're giving you the opportunity to stretch your hard earned dollars further. Throughout the whole month of July those who invest 2000 worth of credit will get 150 added to their account. Top up with 1000 and we'll add 50 or with 500 and get 20! If that's not enough you ll also receive a bonus gift with your next scheduled delivery. Topping up your credit is the best way to pat our local farmers amp makers on the back as they begin planting crops for the second half of 2017. Just to sweeten the deal even more customers who invest 2000 in credit will automatically go into the draw to win a 10-course degustation for 4 people at two hatted restaurant QAGOMA cooked by chef-extraordinaire Josh Lopez . Valued at 4000 this prize will be drawn on Tuesday August 1
June 30, 2017
Posted by: Joel Y

13 years in review.

13th Anniversary of Food Connect 13 years ago this week we launched Food Connect proper. After a wild 3 month trial the previous year in late 2004 following a rare and unusual interview with ABC radio s Steve Austin we could see that there were people in Brisbane very keen on supporting a model that addressed a lot of concerns they had about the industrial food system and being connected with local farmers.. Relaunching in late May of 2005 was a considered punt based on the incredible community support we had received during that trial period. Remember this was before Facebook Twitter and all other social media channels. I didn t even own a mobile phone and VOIP was only just being invented with online ordering still a thought bubble. Looking back it was a huge leap of faith to start a business based on an idea and a common set of values aimed at tackling the deeply entrenched issues in the food system. We had a vision we had a pretty radical business model and we had developed a strategy that was based on restoring farmers faith and regional food resilience by only getting food from within a 3 hour radius of Brisbane. Personally being an ex-farmer I was very keen on every customer having their food come from somewhere not anywhere . I was also really committed to the idea that everyone should also know their farmer and eat with the seasons. I did not want to do the bog-standard home delivery either not only because is it just as inefficient as going to a supermarket but it also kept people holed up in their homes. I was pretty keen to see food as a connector - not just between the city and country but in all sorts of other areas in our lives where there was disconnection hence the name. Original Food Connect Schematic I was ideals-driven to create a business model that had a heart where the values of the business were not disconnected from our deeper human values. Being an ex-dairy farmer who lost the family farm 7 years previously I had a fairly good idea of what the business needed to be both in its constitution and in its operational systems. In the 10 years prior to losing my farm mid 1980 s to mid 1990 s I had witnessed the complete demise of the cooperative model through to the point where the Co-Op I was a member of the same one my parents and my grandparents had been members of had been completely taken over by corporate executives gradually demutualised and then corporatised to withstand the onslaught of supermarket power and its pressure on prices. In my vision the business had to have things like a 2 1 capped ratio of pay between the lowest and highest wage Australia s average at that time was 1 300 . There were to be no agents no middle men and to have a direct relationship with all our farmers. Farmers were to be the price makers not price takers. They should receive 40-50 of the retail dollar the national average then was around 10-15 . All the profits should go back into fulfilling the mission of the business. It was going to have a circular design not linear. The business was never going to be for sale floated or IPO d so I put an asset lock into the constitution. Financial transparency was going to be a key ethic in not only how we communicated the business internally but also the transactional side with our farmers and customers. We would look at every line on the chart of accounts through an ethical lens. Where are we going to get our fuel toilet paper packaging boxes vehicles etc from What businesses should we collaborate with How did we go about developing relationships with each other I was really keen for the people who worked with me on this project actually enjoyed working with me and their co-workers. How were we going to make decisions collectively I wanted to take the whole crop from each farmer not just glamour produce which forced farmers to spend huge amounts of money on grading machines waxes and polishes to meet these insane cosmetic standards. Back then if a customer rang me about a grub in their apple I would thank them for letting me know and then tongue in cheek offer to charge them more for the extra protein and wasting my time. I was pretty unapologetic about this. All of our farmers had to measure up to a holistic set of ethics much deeper than just being chemical free or certified organic. They had to be willing to accept visitors grow more diverse crops and take more responsibility for their landscape and waterways. Those early farmers had to step beyond their farm and be active in their community and demonstrate what the food system should look like. I knew that farmers were silently suffering and not speaking up. Suicide rates back then were not known publicly but we all knew it was happening a lot and it was silently eroding regional morale. Before starting Food Connect I spent many years of dark wandering completely lost in my pessimistic and angry thinking that society was beyond salvaging. Over time I realised that I needed to change my thinking and stop blaming. I decided to get focused around long term business solutions that made the old model obsolete. Admittedly it had some elements of my hippy dippy days after losing the farm but I was pretty intent on it being a serious business built on solid ethics that could not be diluted over time. So looking back what has happened to those dreams What s changed and more importantly did we stick to our guns on some of the deeper issues The Wider World But first what has happening in the wider world since we started Well bucket loads has changed and mostly for the better. For those who ve been watching the War on Waste Series on ABCTV I think we can say that the awareness of food waste is now becoming fairly mainstream. Increasingly more people are aware that local food is not only really good for their health but for the local economy as well. There s still a long way to go in this space though. There s a lot of awareness now about Organics - regarding its achievements... and its limitations. Farmers are now acutely aware that monocultures growing only one type of crop have damaged the ecosystem. Conversely agroecological farmers around the world are proving that they can build back biodiversity with a polycultural system while at the same time lowering their costs and reliance on chemical interventions to protect crops. A very recent report from the UN s FAO Food and Agriculture Org proves these farms are also more productive per square metre than conventional farms. Look out for the word Regenerative Agriculture as the new term to describe a more holistic framework that goes beyond Certified Organic. In fact it s the new buzzword word in finance and business to describe this concept aimed at solutions beyond sustainable . In the business world the term Social Enterprise has leapt onto the scene in a big way. Richard Branson has repeatedly said that if you're not a Social Enterprise in the next 10 years you won t be in business or shouldn't be anyway . Pretty much every University Business School in the western world now has a Social Enterprise stream with some now incorporating Social Enterprise into the mainstream curriculum. A recent survey showed that 80 of Generation X will be Social Entrepreneurs. To validate this BCorp Benefit Corporation Certification is now gaining popularity with the possibility that it will become a legislated legal model in Australia. Over thirty states in the US have now legislated B Corp plus France and a bunch of other countries. Accountability in business has changed so much over the past 10 years just look at the divestment movement and even now how CSR Corporate Social Responsibility is continually having to demonstrate its real effectiveness above and beyond a clever marketing strategy. A lot more focus is now on what the whole business corporation does not just what it does with its profits. If you are aware of the impact ethical investment movement you also know that capital markets are being shaken up. There s still a long way to go in terms addressing systemic change in the way business is done and the expectations around returns however there is movement at the station. I could go on about the massive changes happening in the big wide world and apart from some of the geo-political aberrations horrifyingly and humorously being played out most of it is very positive. If only the mainstream media world would report on it! Internally So what s happening down at Food Connect central Well we still have the 2 1 wage ratio - it currently sits at around 1 1.3. We still have an asset lock although we re currently changing the constitution to allow for equity ownership by our farmers customers and employees - more on this later. We still pay 40 of the retail dollar back to farmers - it did get up to about 53 at one stage but that seriously compromised our financial viability. We expanded the radius to get our produce from 5 hours for 95 of our products. We still enjoy direct relationships with our expanding circle of brilliant farmers and food makers and our average weekly food miles are down to 140 kilometres even though we have gone beyond our original radius - that s still 20 times shorter than the national average! The connection between farmers and customers has been one of the highlights for me. So much so that I ve lost track of all the relationships that have come out of our regular farm tours and events. From a business perspective it s still very financially tight. We have a lot more competition doing local fair food but we view that as a good thing. In fact we have been very active supporting and fostering many of these new businesses buyers clubs and cooperatives. We believe that growing the whole pie and collaborating with like businesses is the future. So whilst this strategy has it s downsides to normal business imperatives like endless growth building the local food ecosystem and public awareness with and for each other is critical to the future of the planet. Our business model is viewed by many to be the mother innovator Fair Food business. We have a prominent presence in research circles - being case studied many times in what s called the New Food Economies movement. This has also contributed more to our reputation nationally and internationally than business success at home here in Brisbane. On the other side of the coin out of that success is the unfortunate spin that is exploiting customers into thinking they re supporting local farmers and all the other values we very deliberately demonstrate. This is very frustrating as the marketing clout of some of these players makes it really difficult for us to cut through. Thank goodness for social media! At the customer level we have facilitated the formation of The Friends of Food Connect FoFC and equally we ve also seen farmers form their own network around the Food Connect Manifesto. Both groups have been extremely helpful in supporting and working with us strategically on our model as well as the movement more generally. This holistic integration from supply to customer is one of our unique successes. Led by one of our long term City Cousins Bronwen Irimichi the FoFC have provided us with much needed advice and perspective as we traverse the road of most resistance . Globally this year will be an historic one in that for the very first time an Australian farming organisation will be accepted as members of La Via Campesina LVC . This has been a 7 year journey that started with us partnering with Reciprocity to host the very first visit of LVC farmers in Brisbane back in 2010. LVC is the largest democratic movement in the world with over 200 million farmer members. Food Connect farmers Ray and Sam Palmer along with their children are currently in the Basque region of Spain where in July near the famous city of Bilbao the formal announcement will take place. Our customers have played a huge role in this when we crowdfunded five Food Connect farmers to attend the Global LVC summit in 2013 along with a few trips to Japan and Korea for the LVC youth summits for Ray and Sam. Twenty of our original farmers are still supplying us 13 years down the track and when we started with value added products in 2007 we have developed deep relationships with young ethical food entrepreneurs that are now significant brands in their own right. The Community Kitchen at the homestead has now incubated over 10 new businesses and now hosts 6 wonderful enterprises co-sharing the space. It has been amazing watching them create not just wonderful products but innovative partnerships and collaborations. Is it Enough Have ours and others efforts moved the needle on some of the now well-researched negative impacts of the current food system In our view not really! Whilst the renewable energy sustainable transport and green building sectors have become mainstream and doing their best to decouple from fossil fuels the industrial food and agriculture system system is still tied to an old and extractive business model. Farmers have been playing their part to a large extent however unfair globalised trade agreements combined with the centralised domestic market with unchallenged power in distribution both retail and wholesale is failing to tackle these obvious failures. Whilst we know a lot has improved and awareness is increasing most of the solutions aiming to address the root cause are very conventional and from a systems perspective will not be enough. This is why we have been trialling a Food Hub model that will allow us to scale our impact and at the same time deepen our values relating to the true cost of production affordability quality zero waste community ownership and collaborations transparency and local economic resilience. You will hear more about our plans furthering our Food Hub ideas in later updates as the Food Connect Foundation starts to roll out its community engagement plans. This is a very exciting initiative another first of its type in Australia. Stay tuned. If you have been with us for a long time we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We really appreciate you sticking with us and taking on the challenge of eating seasonally and going with the flow of all things Food Connect. For those that have recently joined us we welcome you with open arms - it s the beginning of a whole new world of eating and participating in the food system - your food system. It may be a challenge at times but we know over time you will come to appreciate the convenience and deeper pleasures of joining the Food Connect table. We look forward to the next 13 years transforming the food system with you and your family community working in collaboration with us and our family of farmers and food makers. May the farm be with you. Oooroo! Robert Emma-Kate Mark Luke Pallavi Jakub and the team at Food Connect.
June 16, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Produce Report- Week 14

The aftermath of cyclone Debbie will definitely have an impact on what is available this week. A week s worth of rain has left rhubarb with rotten wet feet at Glenn s place. It could be a while before it returns. The amazing pineapple season is tailing off - fruit are getting a bit smaller and less numerous. It s been a particularly good season with the early dry warm weather - let s hope the next big flush in late spring is as good! kiwi fruit are not far away at Ros Cairns although I did speak to her before the heavier rain yesterday. Ros does have good drainage not to mention fantastic views so fingers crossed her dexter hayward and bruno fruit will be here in a few weeks. So for a little while until mandarins avocados and kiwi Fruit start there will be plenty of summerdel and gala apples in the boxes as well as winter cole and beurre bosc pears. The winter coles squatter than a bosc with a similar flavour and slightly smoother flesh. We have come to develop a real liking for them at the Homestead! While we can t enjoy fresh figs all year round you can enjoy Fig Jam from Michelle at Ugly Duck. Michelle s jams are batch made just the way your would at home- with figs from Shane Halloran and sugar from Northern NSW. Everyone s favourite green tree shaped veggie is back in earnest this week courtesy of David and Tammy at Black Crow. Now given the amount of rain that has fallen around that area we won t be able to take broccoli for granted in the coming weeks but they are a resilient lot so I m sure we will see broccoli continue as well as cauliflower and cabbages in the near future. Ian and Bev MacKinnon have started harvesting some beetroot at their farm near Blackbutt. They are not big growers of beetroot so do it bunched with leaves on. You can use the leaves in a salad or wherever you use kale or silverbeet. In fact the bright colours of the leaves and tubers is a hint that it s one of the healthiest vegetables going around. Beans are still in abundance and although the sugarsnap peas at Jon Dukamps did not hold up in the rain there are plenty of snow peas. Easter is almost upon us - if you can t resist getting into the spirit just a little early Leavain has hot cross buns available from this week. Available in wheat and the ever popular spelt they are of course best toasted with dollops of butter. Adding fig jam might just be a little over the top. With cold weather approaching we have the potent fire cider back from Buchi. While making no health claims the fire cider follows age old recipes that many folk swear by but be warned it is an intense experience for you and any lurgies it hits!
March 31, 2017
Posted by: Joel Y
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