The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance is lucky to have a team of dedicated and passionate people working to create equitable, sustainable and resilient food systems for all Australians.
- Interim President- Tammi Jonas
- Interim Vice President- Katarina Munksgaard
- FFFU Chair- Phil Stringer
- Secretary - Penny Kothe
- Treasurer - Deepa Dureja
- Communications Officer - Katie Johnston
- Ben McMenamin
- Sam Hawker
- Serenity Hill
- Daniel Zetah
- Courtney Young (intern)
Committee Member Profiles
Tammi Jonas, Interim President (June 2017-present)
Along with her hypercompetent husband and three #orsmkids, she raises rare breed Large Black pigs, a motley crew of cattle, and Australorp chickens on the volcanic soils of central Victoria at Jonai Farms & Meatsmiths. Former vegetarian academic Tammi does whole-carcass butchering on the farm (thanks to two successful crowdfunding campaigns to build a boning room, commercial kitchen, & curing room), and sells their ethical pork and beef predominantly through a thriving CSA (community-supported agriculture).
Jonai Farms is an ethically viable no-growth model – Tammi often says we need to multiply our farms, not scale them, to support more people working the land fairly and to revive rural communities and local food economies.
Tammi has been writing about food culture, ethics and politics since 2006 at her blog TammiJonas: Food Ethics, and speaks regularly on food sovereignty at public events, on radio, and in print media. She is also a founding member and former chair of Fair Food Farmers United (FFFU), the producers' branch of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA).
Jonai Farms features in Australia’s first food politics documentary Fair Food, and Tammi also has a chapter in the anthology Fair Food, published by UQ Press.
Tammi has worked solidly over many years for fair and consistent regulation of farming and food production and distribution, and led the process to establish a Legal Defence Fund to protect and promote the right of people to determine their own food and agriculture systems.
She has helped AFSA establish its voice and authority on a range of issues and secured frequent meetings with a number of politicians to lobby for significant reform, as well as leading the process for submissions to government inquiries, including the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the impact of regulation on agriculture, and the Victorian Government’s Animal Industries Advisory Committee, which released its report in 2016 that includes recommendations for more scale-appropriate application of the planning scheme around extensive and intensive animal husbandry.
Tammi has also had the privilege to attend a variety of meetings of the global food sovereignty movement, including the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty, Urgenci: the International Network for Community-Supported Agriculture, Slow Meat, the Asia Pacific Regional Meeting of the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), Slow Food’s Terra Madre, and the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) that relates to the UN Committee for World Food Security (CFS). She led the process to gain membership of the leading voice of the global food sovereignty movement La Via Campesina (LVC) in August 2016.
The extent of Tammi’s work in Australia and internationally has deepened and broadened her understanding of the issues in the food system locally and globally and she is keen to continue applying that knowledge and experience to assist farmers and eaters, AFSA, the FFFU and the global food sovereignty movement.
Katarina Munksgaard, Interim Vice President (June 2017-present)
Kat is an anthropologist specialising in farming and interspecies relationships. She recently finished her master’s thesis on the food sovereignty movement in Australia. Kat got involved with AFSA to support her thesis work in 2015-16. She has interviewed and interacted with a large number of small-scale regenerative farmers all over Australia providing her with an in-depth understanding of both the motivations behind choosing these farming methods and the current issues that farmers face. She has worked as a research assistant at Deakin University on the project Sustainable Fishing Families and can now also report on food sovereignty issues in the Australian fishing industry.
Kat has also worked specifically on the topic of genetically modified crops in India and the farmers who farm these crops. She has written extensively on the globalized and commodified food system and analysed the detrimental social and environmental effects these systems have on especially people in the Global South.
Phil Stringer, Chair, FFFU
Phil Stringer is currently managing a small mixed farm in SE Qld, running free range purebred Tamworth pigs, a small herd of cattle and growing subtropical perennial tubers along with various cut flowers and vegetables.
He's also a director of the Mary Valley Country Harvest Coop which provides weekly deliveries to the Sunshine Coast and valuable training, workshops and farm tours to local growers, as well as being actively involved in a project to get a local mixed species abattoir in the region again.
His background is in land management, and he continues to work off farm on revegetation projects.
He joined the AFSA national committee in August 2016.
Penny Kothe, Secretary
Raised in Tumbarumba in the NSW Snowies, then Sydney and later Mudgee and the north coast of NSW. Coming from a farming family with a great interest in gardening, Penny feels right at home on the open spaces of the farm. Penny became interested in studying horticulture, then permaculture and holistic management and is continuing to learn and apply these principles each and every day. She completed her PDC with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton in 2012 as well as various courses including Forest Gardens, Natural Bee Keeping, Urban Permaculture and Holistic Management. She has recently completed a Diploma in Organic Farming.
Deepa Dureja, Treasurer
Deepa is a CPA qualified accountant, having worked for Food Connect in Brisbane where her interest in food and ethical sourcing of food grew. She has worked for a number of not for profit organisations and public services in Melbourne before moving to Brisbane in 2011. Deepa has a strong interest in working with social enterprises and the not for profit sector and strongly believes in a fairer and more ethical food system.
Katie Johnston, Communications Officer
Katie grew up a Navy brat, living mainly in big cities in Australia and overseas. Formerly a photographer, she undertook a years worth of volunteer farming (WWOOFing) in North America in 2010, where she had multiple epiphanies about the importance of soil, the power of food to create community and the purpose of life - made seemingly more enjoyable when working the land.
Upon her return in 2011, she completed her Permaculture Design Certificate at Milkwood Permaculture, after which she enrolled in and has now completed a Double Degree in Social and Environmental Science at RMIT University in Melbourne. During her time at university, focusing on natural resource management and food systems, she transitioned from being a Vegan, to believing there is a role for animals in agriculture, and as such, now chooses to support small-scale local producers who choose to do the right thing by people, the land and the creatures we share it with.
Katie is now looking for work in the regenerative agriculture/local food/land management space - if anyone wants to pay to see her smiley face all day and utilise her wide array of skills, hit her up.
General Committee Members
Ben McMenamin is a chef, social entrepreneur and founder of the Social Food Project. Having worked as a chef for over 10 years and gained a degree from RMIT, Ben has come to realise the power that food has to bring people together and catalyse social change.
Ben has cooked with a number of great social initiatives including the Food Know How project, Scarf Community Dinners, Give a Fork Sustainable Seafood lunch, OzHarvest and more! His work as a food educator has taken him all over Australia presenting at sustainability conferences and community festivals.
Ben's passion for food and education is matched only by his love of gardening! While at RMIT, Ben started a student project called Greening RMIT dedicated to creating more urban gardens and increasing food literacy on campus. He has hosted numerous gardening workshops and cooking demonstrations for students and staff alike.
Samantha is a lover of local food, natural living and resilient communities and believes that food is an entry point to something bigger. She is frustrated by food waste, over the top bureaucracy, food miles and fake food and tries to live her values every day. Sam and Frank (Green & Gleaned) use rocket stoves and hay boxes to cook their food, grow, forage and preserve most of their fruit, vegetables, funghi and meat and get a small number of things from local farmers practicing regenerative methods.
Sam has been the market manager of the Southern Harvest Farmers Market at Bungendore since they started in January 2015. “I hope to help people recognise the true value of food” and the markets are a wonderful place to help make this happen. Samantha is a committee member of Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance and the newly establishing Farmers Markets Alliance of NSW.
Serenity is from a farming family in NE Victoria. She has extensive experience in policy development and in 2012 co-founded Open Food Network with her partner Kirsten Larsen.
Courtney Young, Intern
Passionate about regenerative agriculture and supporting local food economies, Courtney has been interning with AFSA since the beginning of 2016. She runs Woodstock Flour with her partner Ian, where they mill organic grain grown on Ian's family's farm and sell direct to their community.
Sarah de Wit, AFSA Legal Defence Fund Paralegal
Former Committee members (2016-17)
Sally Ruljancich, President (Oct 2016 - May 2017)
Sally Ruljancich has worked in fundraising for over 8 years at the University of Melbourne.
Prior to this position, she was a research assistant at the University of Melbourne for The Encyclopaedia of Melbourne and a postgraduate in the field of history. Her PhD thesis [incomplete but never forgotten] was on the regulation of the food supply of Melbourne, circa 1860-1920.
Sally is also one half of Colin and Sally’s Organic Lamb and Beef, a direct to consumer, grass-fed and certified organic farm-to-fork business. Together over the last three years they have built Colin and Sally’s, farming on 81 acres of their own land and leasing two other farms nearby.
Starting their business was a way to more fully engage with a community of conscientious meat eaters and has increasingly alerted Sally to the need for thoughtful advocacy around issues of the rights of small producers, food sovereignty and food hubs.
Chris Balazs, Vice President (Oct 2016 - May 2017)
Chris is a first generation farmer. Starting with a small herd of Herefords, Chris has expanded his paddock to plate business (SageChoice) to run a sustainable business supplying ethically raised grass fed beef and lamb through a network of like-minded farmers to the local community. Passionate about ethical livestock farming and ethical meat consumption - you will find him at VFMA markets talking and advocating the need for people to understand where their food comes from and how consumers have the power to change the food paradigm for the better. Chris comes from a corporate background having worked in a large pharmaceutical company for over 18 years. Now having left the corporate life behind, Chris is primarily focused on the farming and food production. Trained and educated as a scientist, Chris is also passionate about continual education having recently completed a MBA, he brings fresh thinking to traditional farming. Years of business, management and science experience is being used to help improve and create a sustainable farming future.
Jo Hall, Secretary (Oct 2016 - May 2017)
Jo Hall was co-opted as National Secretary to the AFSA National Committee in May 2016, with a view to assisting with the Legal Defence Fund and governance processes.
Jo is a lawyer with over 10 years’ experience, currently working in public health, with previous experience in commercial real estate, planning and environment law. Jo also has significant experience working with not-for-profit organisations, including incorporation, governance and tax implications.
Jo has a strong focus on governance with significant experience as a Board Secretary and Company Secretary in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Jo is also a Director on the Board of 3000acres; a charity aiming to bridge the gap between people who want to grow food, and local councils and other organisations who hold the keys to vacant land.
Jo is also a landowner in rural Victoria in the early stages of creating a sustainable market garden business with her partner. Jo is passionate about food sovereignty and in particular, building the Legal Defence Fund into an incredible resource for Australian farmers.