Story by Russ Grayson, April 2014
DARK AND HUMID it might have been in Sydney last Friday evening, the weather didn't stop a small but convivial gathering of members and friends of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance at Glebe's Badde Manors cafe.
The gathering — the first Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance Cafe Conversation in Sydney — was organised last-minute with only a day's notice. The idea was to create an opportunity for people meet the Alliance's coordinator, Nick Rose, and president — farmer, Michael Croft — and to participate in a discussion about a Local Food Act for NSW, not dissimilar to the campaign to introduce an Act in Victoria, as well as catch up with other initatives and news about the Alliance.
As Virginia, who works with a national permaculture organisation, topped up my wine glass yet again I said in my introduction to the evening that it was interesting that here we were gathered around food to talk about that very thing.
Why an Act?
The idea of a Local Food Act is to create the legislative framework in which the emerging local food, or fair food movement — whatever your preferred term — can develop and thrive. Potentially, an Act would address food production and distribution from farm soil thorough processing and distribution and, through the processing of food wastes, back to the farmer's soil.
The ACT would benefit not only the community food systems spreading like edible fungus through our towns and cities, but mainstream farmers, livestock producers and food processors producing for Australia's domestic market. Presumably, it would address issues presently troubling farmers and those that eat what they produce and search for ways to provide a good financial return to farmers in return for supplying good quality food at affordable prices to urban eaters.
Good things to come — Fair Food Week 2014
Another topic of conversation was Fair Food Week and how we could improve it this year. The national event spans 10-19 October and is a largely-self-organising initiative in which participating organisation plan events in their local area or promote already-planned events as Fair Food Week activities. These they place on the Fair Food Week website.
Last year’s Fair Food Week was the first and attracted an estimated 15,000 people to over 100 events around the country.
Organisations interested in joining the national event this year are invited to place their event on the website when it is launched for 2014.
First of more?
The Alliance's Cafe Conversation followed that informal format we developed some years ago for Transition Sydney Cafe Conversations — introductions around the table followed by ten or so minutes for the guests — Nick and Michael — to tell their story, followed by Q&A.
The success of the evening on such short notice suggests that we may be able to temporarily corral other interesting visitors to our city so that local people can meet them and so all can expand their networks of mutual good.
Let's know in the comments window below — would you be interested in attending future cafe conversations in an accessible, moderately priced cafe near the city centre?