AFSA National Committee
Tammi Jonas is an agroecologist in practice, principle, and philosophy. Along with her hypercompetent husband Stuart, Tammi farms heritage-breed Large Black pastured pigs, cattle, and garlic on the unceded lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung people in the central highlands of Victoria. She is also resident meatsmith at Jonai Farms, a thriving community-supported agriculture (CSA) with 80 wonderful household members. Tammi has been president of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) since 2014.
She is undertaking a PhD at the University of Western Australia on the biodiverse and decolonising practices of agroecological farmers, and investigating the logistical, financial, social, and legislative barriers to their efforts.
In her years serving AFSA, Tammi has been very active in the global fight for food sovereignty with comrades in the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC), advocating in numerous UN governing bodies for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and peasants and their communities. She is an editor and co-author of Farming Democracy: Radically transforming the food system from the ground up (2019).
Randal Breen is a co-farmer of Echo Valley Farm, which has been operating since 2014 producing pastured eggs, pastured pork and grass fed beef. They run a stacked, integrated, multispecies, holistic operation which bases operations on the values of our 4 Goods – Good For the Animal, Good For the Land, Good for the Farmer & Good for the You (Consumer).
All of their produce is direct marketed through our 3 distribution channels; our CSA membership, direct online retail (website), and wholesale to cafes, restaurants, and ethical food distributors.
Prior to farming Randal worked in the field of Community Arts, Social Science and Community Development, and holds a Bachelor of Social Science. He spent 8 years as a director of a Community Arts Space in Brisbane with a focus on at-risk youth, emerging artists, and graffiti and public art.
Former Small Scale Organic and Permaculture Farmer in the NSW Southern Tablelands, now a ‘travelling farmer’.
Penny and her husband Paul are currently travelling Australia helping out on sustainable and regenerative farms and within outback communities. Penny’s passion is the growth of local food systems, and she wants to see small farms flourish, not only ecologically, but also in a sustainable way for those running them – meaning from a resource base as well as financial sustainability. Penny has a huge passion for well grown and local food and seeks to connect with these farmers wherever she lands. However, she’s also learning a lot about ‘food deserts’ in her travels.
Currently based in South Australia on Nukunu Lands in the Southern Flinders, Penny was raised in Tumbarumba in the NSW Snowies, then Sydney, later Mudgee and the north coast of NSW before owning and managing Caroola Farm until 2018. She has worked and lived on farms from 10,000 acres down to 10 acres, from conventional to organic.
Her education crosses many fields including Marketing, Permaculture, Holistic Management and Organic Farming and well as being an educator in the fields of marketing, permaculture and growing small farm businesses.
Penny previously served on the AFSA committee as Secretary in 2016/2017.
La Vergne Lehmann
La Vergne Lehmann
La Vergne is currently the Business Development Advisor for the Barengi Gadjin Land Council, based in Horsham. In this role she is focussing on the redevelopment of the Wail Native Nursery and bushfood projects to help the Traditional Owner community become economically sustainable. Prior to this this role she was the Executive Officer of the Grampians Central West Waste & Resource Recovery Group (GCWWRRG) where she focused on food waste and community engagement around waste and resource recovery.
La Vergne has a very broad background having worked as a waste nerd, journalist and media analyst, agricultural college teacher, NRM, tourism manager and accountant. She has qualifications in journalism, sustainable agriculture, adult education, food studies, business and ecotourism. She has lived in the Wimmera at Dimboola for almost 20 years and now lives on the old Lehmann farm home block of 50 acres with her husband.
She currently serves on the boards of the Wimmera Health Care Group and the Wimmera Catchment management Authority and is co-chair of the Wimmera Regional Climate Adaptation Group.
General Committee Members
Amy grew up on her family’s fourth generation sheep property in Central West NSW. As one of four girls, she took the early cues to look further afield for a life in the city. After attending boarding school in Sydney, she studied Media & Communication Studies in Wollongong then years later completed a Master of Sustainability at Sydney Uni. Professionally, work always seemed to involve food – from the glossy pages of one of Australia’s top food magazine, to the e-commerce world of a recipe box delivery service and then working in Melbourne at Yume Food – Australia’s first and only online marketplace for surplus commercial-scale food waste.
Amy is interested in learning about regenerative agriculture in the hopes to one day go full circle, roll up her sleeves and produce nutrient-dense food with a focus on regenerating ecosystems and sharing knowledge. She understands that food is the source of our health and happiness and believes that it is the most powerful medium through which we can demonstrate the kind of environment and society we wish to live and take part in.
Dan, along with his wife Leanne their 2 daughters Adele and Hayley run Bellasato Farm. He and his family farm premium Sommerlad meat chickens along with a small amount of sugar cane. They also grow a few veggies and an ever-increasing bounty of tropical fruits.
Having spent most of his life living in the city, Dan didn’t think often about where his food was coming from, that is, until the birth of his daughter. Being responsible for her life made him and his wife consider what type of lifestyle they wanted to raise their children in, one disconnected from nature, food, and farming, or one that enveloped them within these beautiful aspects of life.
Having never farmed before Dan and his wife took the leap and moved onto a farm, literally jumping in the deep end – both without any off-farm income, and completely reliant on the land to provide food and enough money to get by on. But with the goal of providing great quality food for their family and their surrounding community fueling their flame, they soldier on, learning and growing as they go.
Eliza runs ‘Borrowed Ground’ market garden with her partner Alex on Walbanja/Yuin Country on the south-east coast of New South Wales. In her past life, Eliza graduated as a primary school teacher in 2017 and has a strong passion for food education and sovereignty in Australia. After growing up on Gadigal Land, smack bang in the middle of the city, she started to notice the severe disconnect she, her friends and her family had with the food they were eating. This led to a fierce curiosity and determination to understand more about the food system and build connections with people through food. After completing a market garden internship in 2016, Eliza and Alex realised that building a small-scale market garden business was now their mission in life.
In between then and now, Eliza has worn the hat of Community Coordinator at Pocket City Farms in Sydney designing and implementing a curriculum-based food and environment education program for primary and high school students, served as a Sydney Youth Food Movement Co-Leader and managed another small-scale vegetable enterprise with Alex just outside of Sydney. After working on farms in Nova Scotia, Canada and Patagonia, Chile, Eliza and Alex returned to Australia to kick-start their business in Moruya on a 4 acre block of leased land and have been running that since 2020.
Mirella is a mother, food grower, and academic with a background in Law and Anthropology. She has 15 years experience working with communities in the Brazilian Amazon, as an academic, consultant, volunteer, friend, and ally. Mirella is an educator, or a learning facilitator as she prefers to call herself, committed to creating positive change in the way her students understand and live in the world. She mostly teaches First Nations, environmental, and global affairs, and has been casually designing and delivering courses at RMIT University (Wurundjeri Country) for 7 years.
Mirella lives on Djaara Country with her partner and son on a beautiful native bird heaven, where they currently work on the regeneration of an old orchard, and grow seasonal crops for themselves and their community. There are many plans in the pipeline to increase the use of the land using agroecology and regenerative principles.
Her main interest in becoming part of AFSA is to be further engaged in practical, on-ground, action when it comes to food sovereignty. Mirella is keen to share her skills to support the organisation’s work, especially on the First Nations and International fronts. She also aims at gathering more critical knowledge and sharing with her Brazilian comrades in the jungle, as a way of fostering their food sovereignty too.
Ruth is based in Bungendore NSW, Australia, where she works, for Southern Harvest Association (SHA), a not-for-profit organisation at the forefront of increasing the profile and availability of local food and fibre products, through farmer-consumer networking activities such as markets, aggregated produce boxes, tours, workshops, festivals and community long lunches. Ruth also has her own business focused on catering and value adding locally grown, found and foraged foods.
Ruth has been a farmer and a Registered Nurse, and seen first-hand the results of poor nutrition on health and welfare outcomes, across many social contexts. Farming her own land she experienced the ups and downs of producing food and fibre for local community, and has had a wide variety of experience working on many farms and food/farming enterprises around the country, providing diverse enterprises.
Ruth has been involved with AFSA activities since about 2017, and this has exposed her to many of the processes and mechanisms by which food sovereignty actions occur, including as the Australiasian member of the Coordination Committee of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism (CSIPM) for relations with the Committee on World Food Security. In 2022-23, Ruth rejoins AFSA’s National Committee as Memberships Officer, to help galvanise the food sovereignty movement even further.
Adele lives on Widjabul Wia-bal Country in Dundarimba/Lismore, in the Northern Rivers of NSW. Adele is a food historian, particularly interested in the relationship between food production and culture and teaches history at Southern Cross University. She is a founding member of the Australian Food Research Network and editor of Locale: Pacific Journal of Regional Food Studies.
Adele is the consumer representative on the Lismore Produce Market committee and is a member of Wilson River Landcare. She is active with Richmond RiverKeeper, providing a voice for the river and partnerships with landowners and community groups to restore habitat, improve riverbank stability, reduce pollution and the loss of our precious soils.
Jessie Power – General Coordinator
Jess has a professional background in journalism, communications and policy, living and working in Sydney for a number of industry associations with a focus on sustainable urbanism. She currently resides on beautiful Quandamooka Country in Queensland, completing a Master of Environment at Griffith University. Jess became interested food security as a broad topic as her studies kicked off during the pandemic, prompting further investigation into policies responsible for the wide range of environmental issues associated with industrial agriculture in Australia. She hopes to complete her dissertation in 2022 with a focus on how policy can support positive transformations of Australia’s food systems using agroecological principles and indigneous knowledge systems. Outside of her work with AFSA, Jess assists with bushcare in her local area which is home to many koalas and native birds, as well as spending a lot of time reading (both for study and leisure!). If you need to contact Jess about anything AFSA related, send her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.