Eaten any wild-shot rabbit ragu lately? Venison stew? Home-cured salami, raw milk ricotta, or vegetables fermented in granny’s massive pickling urn in the cellar?
Well I have, and these have been just a few of the incredibly delicious, nutritious, body- and community-nourishing dishes that are being shared at the #youcantbuywhatieat potluck protests being hosted and enjoyed by fair-food minded folk across the country. The potlucks are part of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance’s (AFSA) fundraising campaign to establish a Legal Defence Fund (LDF) to support small-scale farmers in their efforts to grow ethically- and ecologically-sound food for their communities, and eaters’ right to access these foods in the face of overly burdensome, unfair and inconsistent regulation and planning law.
As we approach $25,000 raised we’d like to update you on the three farms we have profiled in the campaign.
The good news is that after two long years fighting for their right to continue their 20-year history of producing a stunning range of milk and traditional dairy products in the north of Tasmania, Elgaar are finally back in production. Two years is a very long time to live without a livelihood and their recovery will take time, and the more people who support them and buy their products the smoother that recovery will be.
Unfortunately, Moo View in South Australia are still not allowed to provide their herdshare members with raw milk following their criminal conviction, and nor are the many other producers who lost that highest-value avenue for their milk over the past year in most states. The Australian Raw Milk Movement and others in addition to AFSA are doing great work promoting the need for reform of the draconian laws that treat raw milk like heroin, but meanwhile we’re keen to get some of the funds already raised to help Moo View through this very difficult time.
Jo Stritch of Happy Valley Free Range has bought a new farm in Gippsland, a shire with permitted use of the farming zone for intensive agriculture, which is important because although free-range pig and poultry farmers don’t consider ourselves intensive, until the planning scheme is revised we are still defined that way. But to add insult to injury in Jo’s case, she recently learned that her new property has a cultural overlay on it that may preclude her from obtaining an intensive permit.
You read that right, Jo may still not be allowed to raise her beautiful pigs on the lush paddocks of Gippsland because the Victorian Government has yet to revise a planning scheme they all agree is flawed. When AFSA meets with the ministers they routinely tell us that they are sympathetic to the problem and ‘working on it’, but meanwhile Jo remains unable to farm. The report of the Animal Industries Advisory Committee went to the ministers for planning and agriculture on 29 April 2016 and they have yet to issue a response. We have repeatedly asked for a moratorium on all decisions around the definitions of intensive and extensive until the scheme is revised but to no avail.
Jo is still farming on leased land across the district and is very grateful for the many loyal customers who have supported her at farmers’ markets through this very difficult period, but again AFSA is keen to get her some funds to help while she battles this unfair situation.
I’m writing this as we drive up the Hume to our next #youcantbuywhatieat potluck protest being hosted by the wonderful Catherine and Steve Crawford of Tarrawalla Farm in northeastern Victoria, where another community of some 120 people are coming together to fight for their right to determine their own food and agriculture systems, and to do so over the time-honoured tradition of sharing their home-grown, hunted, home-killed, home-cured, fermented, pickled and homemade produce.
When we reach $25,000 raised for the Legal Defence Fund, we will distribute 25% as promised to these three heroic farms to give them the support and confidence they need to keep going.
Please share the campaign with all your networks – your social media, your newsletters, and over your own convivial meals in your community. And if you want to host a #youcantbuywhatieat potluck of your own, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you everything you need to get going.
Viva la revolucion!
Tammi Jonas, President
4 September 2016