People are hungry, and we grow food. It’s a match made in heaven, except when it’s not.
You might have noticed we choose to farm a certain way. We’re organic, regenerative, and small scale. We choose to farm the way we do because these methods align with the core of what we value: Kindness to people, kindness to the planet and kindness to animals.
But there’s another value that Matt and I both share: equality. And sometimes equality comes into conflict with our other goals. Because the way we farm, is not the cheapest way to farm. Ignoring that fact doesn’t make it go away.
I’m ok with not being the cheapest. We want to leave this patch of land a better, healthier one than when we started. And in only 4 years we can already see a huge difference in the soil health and microbiota.
But because we don’t farm in the cheapest way, our food isn’t the cheapest either. And it bothers me that there are people who can’t afford to align their own lives, with their ethics. And for many, genuinely can’t afford to buy healthy veg for themselves and their families. Access to our vegetables, and our eggs, is not equal.
This is one of the fine lines we walk as a business. We’re not willing to compromise when it comes to the welfare of our animals. We’re not willing to deplete our soils. And we’re not willing to treat our employees as disposable. But I’m also not willing to be a food producer only for a high end market.
I want everyone in the world to eat the sort of food we’re producing.
I’m not that naive, and I’m not that ambitious. So I know that’s a pipe dream, but there are a few things we do here on the farm to help all sorts of people access healthy, nutrient dense food, that doesn’t cost the earth.
- Helping Hand Boxes
- Volunteer Boxes
- Community Boxes
Helping Hand Boxes
There are times in everyone’s life, that they need a hand. And I think that right now, it’s that time in a lot of people’s lives. Needing help is crap. Asking for help is hard. And some of the hoops you have to jump through, and the forms you have to fill out, well. On a bad day, they make it worse.
When I was at uni in Melbourne, there were weeks when I had run out of money, before pay day. I used to have to go into the bank to take out my last $7, because I couldn’t withdraw it from the ATM. I would meet a friend at the pub- but to afford a drink, I’d have to ride my bike and save the tram fare.
Let’s be clear here, I wasn’t really in any danger of going hungry- I had parents who would feed me the second I went home for a visit. But even with that safety net strung beneath me, I remember the stress of working and reworking a budget that just could not add up. And if I occasionally skipped lunch because I didn’t have the money? Well, it was a choice I had. How do you skip meals when you have a tantruming toddler or a hangry 5 year old? How do you restrict a growing teenager’s food?
I still spend time working on our budget. We don’t have a lot, but we’re a farm. One thing we are not short of is food. And we know that’s not the case for a lot of people right now.
So, if you are hungry, then get in touch with us. Because food is something that we can give, and something that everyone deserves.
I put the above post on facebook recently, and was surprised by the number of people who reached out, not sure if they qualified. Let me be blunt (have you met me?) We don’t have an application form, or a test for you to pass. If you say you’re hungry, then I believe you.
Still not sure if you ‘qualify’? Want to know what I mean by hungry?
-If you have a drawer full of unused hotel toiletries, and are excited by a freebie, but don’t know how much money you spend on streaming services, gym memberships and bank fees per month, I probably don’t mean you.
But if any of the following sound like you, then I really hope you contact us.
- You know exactly how much your grocery shop costs before you get to the checkout.
- You have to put things back on the shelf because they’re too expensive.
- There are no left overs in your house, because they’re eaten.
- You buy tinned or frozen veg because it’s cheaper.
- Fresh food seems too expensive at the grocery store, but then you order take out and make next weeks problem worse.
- You served your children or partner a bigger portion than yourself this week, and you were hungry when you finished.
- You got a bill this week and the only thing left to cut in your budget is food.
This list is not definitive. You might be very hungry, but not relate to any of it, because this was written from my experience. Just remember that our experiences don’t have to be the same for me to want to offer a helping hand.
Our volunteer boxes are a less urgent solution, but also a longer term one. Most of us can afford to do our weekly shop. But there aren’t many people (myself included) who can buy anything they like without worrying about the price. And the fact is that organic regenerative food is in the same premium price bracket as marinated feta, and lindt chocolate.
Does you not being able to afford it on a regular basis mean that I should pay for it? No.
But do I really believe that this sort of food should be accessible to everyone, every week? Yes.
So we offer a volunteer veggie box – when not in stage 4 lock down, we welcome volunteers to our farm on Tuesday or Friday mornings. Put in a half day of chatty, outdoor work, and head home with a veggie box in the right size for your family. Is it a perfect solution? No. But if you’re interested in learning where your food comes from, and reducing some budget strain at the same time? Contact us.
Our community boxes began when we started to sell veggie boxes, instead of loose vegetables. Veggie boxes are fantastic- we know how much to plant, and how much to harvest. We have regular income, and can budget in advance for our farm. We’re still dependent on the weather, but we’re no longer at the mercy of it. Best of all, there’s next to no food waste.
Then I realised, that actually zero waste veggies are a problem. In Australia 3.6 million people have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months. 10% of people locally live beneath the poverty line.
Right now, those people get food from food banks. And the veggies at the food banks? Waste, from supermarkets miscalculating orders, and farmers market dregs. Our system eliminates waste, which is great. But if it were ever to take off on a truly large scale, it exposes another problem- hunger.
So the community box was born. We gave the people buying our boxes a choice. They could buy a community box, or a regular box. Either way they receive the exact same thing. But a community box costs 10% more, and that money goes directly to feeding people who need it.
We don’t take a cut, and we volunteer the time to coordinate it. We buy fresh food at wholesale prices with 100% of the community box money, and we donate it fresh to the Mornington Peninsula Community Information & Support Centre. This isn’t limp lettuces and wrinkly carrots, it’s the same quality produce that goes in our boxes.
It’s slow, and long term, building a supportive community, between those who can afford it, and those who can’t. 30% of our boxes are community boxes. You can help by signing up for one here
So where to?
Do these three things really solve the problem of food accessibility? Of course not. But we’re asking the question. And we’re trying out answers as best we can. If you have new ideas, or tweaks to our old ones, then we’d love to learn together.