Get To Know Your Farmer – The future of food relies on it!

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food farming

Agriculture and farming industry leaders are calling on Australians to buy local to avoid the impending food crisis.

As the climate catastrophe continues to disrupt weather patterns and geopolitical events cause uncertainty with international supply chains, the importance of food sovereignty to Australians has never been more apparent.

The extent of the food crisis is looming, yet consumers and industries are still operating as if it’s business as usual. One solution lies in transitioning to a more regenerative, short supply chain food system: buying from local farmers, eating seasonally, and reducing our dependence on increasingly vulnerable ‘big ag food ’systems. The regenerative food system is the way forward, but mobilising consumers to take action requires work.

In the winter of 2022, Australians were faced with the reality of the food crisis, when the price of iceberg lettuce rose to a high of $11.99. The extent of the crisis is seen by those who live in the cities when prices soar, but it is a reality that the stewards of our land – the farmers working to grow the food that we need in order to survive – face every day.

“We need to be supporting our farmers and paying them the price that allows them to keep putting nutrient-dense, quality food on our tables. We need localised, short-supply-chain food systems because they’re more resilient than the longer chain systems which – as we saw last year following the floods – can so easily break down” says Jade Miles, CEO of regenerative agriculture organisation Sustainable Table.

The environmental education centre and social enterprise CERES identified seven independent local produce providers that have closed in the six-month period between August 2022 and February 2023, including the direct grocery arm of Eco Farms.  While this rapid fall in demand for local, sustainably sourced food reflects the current cost of living crisis, it is also a reminder that Australians are forgetting about the role that shopping locally plays in our future food sovereignty.

“Australia’s local food system is in its infancy – with organisations like Brisbane Food Connect and Open Food Network leading the charge – but they need consumer support in order to survive. Lockdowns resulted in a massive surge in demand – including Open Food Network, which experienced a 400% increase in demand during this time. Since then, as pre-COVID life has resumed, it seems as though consumers have gone back to shopping at the supermarket without thinking about how that might impact local systems,” explains Miles.

Miles is among a key group of strategic change makers at Sustainable Table: the not-for-profit working to pre-empt Australia’s food crisis by connecting regenerative farmers and food organisations, whilst educating the wider public on the importance of sustainable food systems.

Another leader in the regenerative food movement is Serenity Hill, co-founder of Open Food Network.

“We are seeing extreme strains on the regenerative farmers and values-aligned food supply networks, precisely at the time when we need them the most. There is an urgent need for public investment in this sector – a regenerative food sector that’s building resilience for all of us, now and in the future,” Hill explains.

 

Sustainable Table is working to educate the wider community about the impact they can have as consumers – by getting to know their local farmer and reducing their food’s environmental footprint by choosing a shorter supply chain.

“There’s a huge amount of activity and imaginative thinking going into agriculture at the moment – turning problems into solutions, seeking the root cause of our climate and food supply conundrums. Sustainable Table is part of this vibrant conversation and growing community of investors trying to support the visionary businesses that are emerging to meet this climate action demand,” says Rebecca Gorman, holistic management farmer and former journalist, who has been tracking Australia’s regenerative food movement over the past several years.

 


Jade Miles, CEO of regenerative agriculture organisation Sustainable Table.

About Sustainable Table

Sustainable Table is a non-profit network of thought leaders and educators who are connecting regenerative growers with funders to regenerate Australia’s food system. Sustainable Table will extend its work in 2023 by launching a first-of-its-kind, national map of regenerative farmers and local food initiatives. The organisation will also be releasing a key body of research identifying the potential for private capital to revolutionise agriculture in this country.

For more information go to

Sustainable Table Transitioning to regenerative food and farming at scale is going to take more than just know-how and skills; it involves a seismic shift in identity, mindset and heart. It’s cultural.

Eco Farms A farmers’ collective that provides guaranteed organic produce chemical-free and more

Food Connect https://foodconnect.com.au/pages/about-us
Youtube ABC Documentary How to reduce your food’s carbon footprint | Your Planet https://youtu.be/BJnUTcKj1As

Sustainable Food and Seasonal shopping Open Food Network

CERES is an environmental education centre, community garden, urban farm and social enterprise hub spread across four locations, linked by the Merri and Darebin Creeks on Wurundjeri Country, Naarm (Melbourne).https://ceres.org.au/


 

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