Late in July VEG’s FP (Farmer Paul) and FC (Farmer Carey) absconded from the Veg Warehouse and got along to the open day and organic farmers forum at Ecoss (Ecological & Social Sustainability) in the breathtaking Yarra Valley. Coming from drab grey Brunswick to be surrounded by glistening forested mountains, rolling fields and a super fresh, crisp yet sunny Winter’s day, we were off to a good start (and showing signs of not returning).
By all means, read more about Ecoss and their plans for an amazing community hub, nursery and farm in the east, but we were taken by the thrilling notion of an increasing number of small scale farmers supported by their communities, who together are bypassing the rotten & remorseless duopoly of long-chain farmer & planet crunching buying power that is Coles & Woolies. In fact you can get along to The Field Institute this Thursday evening to learn all about supermarket tactics and outcomes from experts in the field, plus a beautiful example of farming & foraging in a human-plant-animal-soil-friendly context that is Grown & Gathered.
Planning a winter event, one must take the prospect of cold wet conditions seriously, but as soon as the sun came out and dazzled everyone, the forum flowed out of the old barn and into glorious sun!
There was so much networking going on we had to scurry and dash between cards being exchanged, and such flurries of rapid-fire vigorous hand-shaking that we felt refreshed after a good work out.
You know you’re hanging with farmers when you see an esky like this!
We were staggered by (ok we were in love with) the knowledge, passion, and vibrance with which these women went about their respective enterprises
From left to right Angela from Organic Empire is busy farming, running a Food School, and networking with local farmers to support them with a more direct connection to their community – such irrepressible assurance in this emerging and exciting way of doing things that …”We’re going to win, there’s no other way!”
Luna from Little Feet Farm is busy nurturing the soil to supply primo seasonal produce for their super local 40 member CSA box scheme. Shedding light on the advantages and challenges of direct sales and regenerative farming that improves soil over time, Luna is a great example of turning a problem into the solution: profit driven alienating food system, broken = a fair deal for earth & people supporting each other in where their food comes from, fixed! And we concur that “growing food is one of the most revolutionary things you can do.”
Ann from the Yarra Valley Bee Group had a very inspiring story to tell: a bunch of local bee-keeping enthusiasts wanted to do something positive in response to the challenges bees face with dwindling bee populations worldwide, and within twelve months they had a financially sound, super-charged social enterprise that engages extensively with their community on all issues bee, plus a growing network of progressive bee-keepers able to sell any quantity of surplus honey for a fair price in record time by supporting them through the rigorous legal and labelling laws pertaining to honey. “The focus is on forage” and with that they are off planting all manner of trees, shrubs and herbs to provide habitat and sustain these beautiful, essential insects. And with the number of workshops they run you can seemingly rock up anytime and learn something vital about helping our friends the bees.
Carolyn from Eat Local Eat Wild, kind of made our heads want to explode with hope and joy for the growing number of farmers who are pursuing more ethical, innovative, meaningful, community focused and land-stewarding means than ever before. Using technology (social media) for good instead of evil, and doing some hard-core networking with proactive farmers in her broad north-eastern region, Carolyn is cutting a new path for a more directly connected, highly transparent, ethical farming model that can be taken up by new farmers getting amongst it, or existing farmers looking for a better way. Her work with refugee resettlement programs gave us yet more hope, and insight into the fact that a great many Aussie’s can see past the hype, and are doing what they can to help our marginalised human kin, in spite of what appears to be another chapter in Australia’s darkest hour of human rights.. “If you build a weight of community opinion, people’s ideas will change in the end.”
Local Biodynamic kiwi-fruit farmer Ian Cummings captured it pretty well in a passing comment.. “What’s needed is social change, and because agriculture is an integral component of social change, this new paradigm agriculture is where it’s at.”
Of course being good Veggers, we were happy to see the giant, steaming pile of compost too
So stay tuned to Ecoss for further great events, or if in the area and need some fresh organic seedlings to get you going, drop right in and lap it up!