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.
- President- Tammi Jonas
- Vice President- Ben McMenamin
- FFFU Chair- Phil Stringer
- Secretary - Penny Kothe
- Treasurer - Heather Smillie
- Communications Officer - Katie Johnston
- International Liaison - Kat Munksgaard
- Fran Murrell
- Pi Wei Lim
- Catie Gressier
- Ant Wilson
- Courtney Young - Policy, Research, and Administrative Officer
- Sarah de Wit - Paralegal
Committee Member Profiles
Tammi considers herself an ethicurean farmer, mindful meatsmith, and agrarian intellectual.
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.
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.
Katarina Munksgaard, International Liaison
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 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.
Heather Smillie, Treasurer
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
Fran Murrell is a co-founder of MADGE – Mothers Are Demystifying Genetic Engineering, also Mothers Advocating Deliciously Good Eating. This volunteer group of mothers and others formed in 2007. They are concerned about the increasing changes happening to our food in industrial agriculture, including Genetic Engineering and the use of pesticides and nanomaterials.
Fran became interested in GE (or GM as it is also known) in 1994 after her first daughter was born, when she was studying at Melbourne University. While researching an essay on pesticides realised her baby daughter would be receiving the highest dose of chemical exposure and that much of that would come from food. Initially reassured that GM crops would reduce pesticide use, further exploration showed they increase it. This led to years of research on the GM industry resulting in creating a website, writing, giving talks and commenting in the media. There is a strong global movement resisting GM and Fran has helped organise overseas speakers in Australia as well as participating in events in the US, Canada and Europe.
Fran is passionate about helping to create a food system that nourishes all children, restores health to the planet, is delicious and fair to everyone, and everything, involved.
Pi Wei Lim
Courtney Young, Policy, Research and Administrative Officer
Passionate about agroecology, regenerative farming and supporting local food economies, Courtney has been interning with AFSA since the beginning of 2016. She runs Woodstock Flour with her partner Ian Congdon in Berrigan, NSW. They mill organic grain grown on Ian's family's farm and sell direct to their community.
Courtney studied Environments and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne, majoring in 'Environmental Geographies, Politics and Culture' and 'Food Security'.
Sarah is an enthusiastic law graduate who loves learning for the sake of learning and is passionate about law reform, food sovereignty and saving endangered food varieties.
Sarah graduated from Griffith University with a background in human rights advocacy and youth leadership. Her aspiration to investigate the sources of good food led her to join the Griffith University Food Co-operative, which later gained her nomination as their sponsored representative at the Students of Sustainability Conference 2014. This was a life-altering event for Sarah, for it was the beginning of her dedication to food sovereignty and seed biodiversity. Sarah later completed a graduate research paper on Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights to Australian Food Seeds. Sarah has been involved in fundraising campaigns linked to anti extraction industry initiatives, as well as assisted a small-scale, sustainable farm in Devon (UK), where she developed a strong value of supporting antibiotics free, hormone free and preservative free diets of animals produced for meat. Sarah believes that the welfare of animals is dependent on humans and believes in the importance of facilitating small-scale producers to become the future of a better meat industry.
Sarah is passionate about making concepts of law and food and seed sovereignty come alive by celebrating food traditions and engaging with community members.