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The Fair Food Almanac
August/September 2012



Contents

Big Things Afoot at Fair Food
Named and Bagged Extras Update
Carbon Neutral Home Delivery Update
What's in your box: winner announced!
A Bit of Merri Sunshine
News from Our Farmers
Events: Next Gen Capitalism at Fed Square
Build Your Own Box
News From Our Food Hosts
Mixed Dozen Meals
Fair Food in Broadsheet!

Big things afoot at Fair Food

The delivery webpages are ready, new drivers have been hired, GPS's are in the vans & the @#%$! byzantine labelling printer has been nutted out.  Last Thursday was the first day of the carbon neutral, home delivery trial to 105  Fair Food households.  There were hiccups, there was feedback, but it worked, it actually worked.   The first delivery for all Fair Food customers will on be Wednesday Sept 19th with the site open for orders the week before. 

Meanwhile at the Fair Food warehouse, the workshop walls that housed the new electric delivery van conversion (more on that soon) are coming down and the packing crew are rearranging all the shelving and benches to pack grocery orders individually.  These days I wake up at 5am thinking about route optimisation software and what's the most efficient way to pack a cauliflower, a bag of oats and 2 litres of bath milk into the same box.

The other day, in the midst of all this chaos, I took a breath and looked back at how far we've come since Fair Food started as a staff co-op on a picnic table outside the old CERES Farm Office.  Since that 20 person veggie co-op began almost 10 years ago there has been a continuing theme of people giving their time, effort and money; whether it be turning up to pack co-op boxes, volunteering verandahs as Food Hosts or sticking with a local food box through the winters of little variety.  And it's been this desire to care for our land and community through the way we put our food on the table that has taken us from that little picnic table food co-op 10 years ago to where we are today; bringing fair food to people right across Melbourne.

For our farmers, our workers, our customers and for CERES, we really want to make the new delivery service a success but, as always, we need your help.  Despite all the planning some things will go wrong, mistakes will happen, so we need your patience and your feedback to fix the problems quickly. Whether it's the website or the logistics, please tell Fair Food's customer service officer, Mary Ryan,  what is and what's not working by email, info@ceresfairfood.org.au, or phone (03) 8673 6288.

Chris Ennis
Fair Food Manager

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Named and Bagged Extras Update

You would have noticed that there are names on your boxes and a few of you would have already received your extra groceries bagged up. This is the beginning of a Fair Food Revolution and we've spent the winter getting our heads around it. As I wrote above, the warehouse is being turned upside down to pack individual orders. It's a work-in-progress but over the next few weeks all your grocery orders will be bagged together and named. Our next big improvement is our eskys for cold items. We're now looking for the very best way to keep cold things cold. We're trying out different things and are open to feedback and ideas from you.

Email suggestions to info@ceresfairfood.org.au

Carbon Neutral Home Delivery

Are we there yet!? We are so there. Starting on August 30th with a two week trial involving 105 households, we've been ironing out any lumps to prep our carbon neutral home delivery service for the first delivery available to all Fair Food customers on Wednesday Sept 19th with the cut-off for orders midnight Sunday 16th Sept.

Why are we doing this? Well, as you know, we love the Food Host system but it's not for everybody. We've had so many requests from people wanting to receive Fair Food but not being able to get to a Food Host for mobility reasons, clashing work hours or just not being able to pack the kids up around dinner time. So, we have decided to bring Fair Food to peoples' homes.

How will it all work? The only difference to how you shop is that now, on the checkout page, you select between a Food Host or Home Delivery. You can change your delivery choice each week if you like, or manage where your order goes before cutoff by using the "my orders" page. Home delivery will cost $6.75, which includes the carbon offset for this part of the service. Starting Sept 19th,  home deliveries will be arrive on a Wednesday afternoon, between 1pm and 7pm, so you can get your fair foods inside as soon as they hit the verandah.

We'll be sending out a special edition of the newsletter providing more details shortly. So keep your eyes peeled on your inbox and index finger at the ready!

Feedback welcome. Email chris@ceres.org.au.

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What's in the Box Competition Winner Announced!

We asked and you delivered... your shopping lists! Congratulations to Miriam from Preston who received a Medium Mixed Fruit and Veg box delivered to her home, along with some other yummy goodies.

We promised the winner would be randomly selected, with name tags being thrown at yours truly, recorded to video and posted on Facebook. And here it is people... drumroll for my debut performance!

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A Very Merri Table... and Bar
 

Like all things CERES, the Merri is an ethical business founded on the principles of  sustainability, community and social responsibility. This 'bookings-only' restaurant is an inner city venue with the ambiance of a country retreat, serving organic food and beverages that are seasonal and locally sourced through other CERES social enterprises like Fair Food and Organic Market & Shop.
 
Catering is provided under the direction of our new Chef Manager, Kieran, who works with The Seven Stars, a social enterprise providing employment opportunities to Turkish and Kurdish women from the Alevi Community.
 
The stunning restaurant building is a work of cutting-edge design. Made with sustainable materials, using low energy appliances and minimising waste at every turn, The Merri Table & Bar is a truly special way of giving back to community and the environment while you and your friends, family or colleagues enjoy a sumptuous meal made with care.

Contact themerri@ceres.org.au with enquiries or bookings,* phone (03) 9389 0166 or view the complete menu using the leftside navigation on their web page.

*Bookings required. Minimum numbers made apply.

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News From Our Farmers

The goss on Fair Food Farmers

If you are wondering about the lack of variety of recent produce, spare a thought for our farmers. It's been one of the coldest, wettest winters in a long while and plants are just not growing.  Joe Sgro's market garden in Colac has been under sieige from hungry wild ducks who are struggling to find wild food this winter.   This week at market Joe said jokingly, he might have to start farming ducks instead of bok choi after they cleaned up another almost ready crop.

With the almond blossoms out, spring is definitely on the way and last week we began talking to new farmers like Wayne and Tash at Peninsula Organics and Rod May at Captians Creek about what Fair Food and CERES Market will be buying this summer so they can get spring plantings organised.   With Loui Van Den Broek retired, Rod will be growing corn for Fair Food this year, while Wayne and Tash will be supplying their beautiful spinach bunches for the first time.

Fair Food is always on the look out for new organic farmers to supply to us - email chris@ceres.org.au

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Events

Next Generation Capitalism: profit, people, planet

On Tuesday 7th of August in the swanky BMW Edge Building at Fed Square, we attended a Social Traders event entitled Next Generation Capitalism: profit, people, planet. The topic of the evening? Why and how can we better socialise capital? CERES Fair Food was immediately in the thick of it, asking questions on the Twitter feed, using the hashtag #coops2012.

Discussions centered around the impressive panellists own professional experiences running, assisting or advocating for social enterprises and the 'fourth sector.'



Some intellectual highlights from an evening of panel discussion:

1. There is nothing in corporate law that prevents businesses from being social enterprises, it's just that it's harder to do good and be profitable quickly... but it's oh so much more satisfying and sustainable.

Case study: Mondragon Corporation is a cooperative that made it huge and are still making it despite the GFC (owner-workers responsibly took a pay cut, not Wall Street-esque bonuses), and still managed to halve youth unemployment rates in the Basque region of Spain.

2. We're already seeing a cultural shift in the way business is being conducted here and abroad. Though it might be red- or green-washing in many cases, tokenistic offsetting or making changes at the margins, rather than completely rethinking how business is conducted - it's still evidence that big companies are paying attention to changing social norms and consumer expectations of their role in society.

The point isn't to be anti-commerce or against big business, but to push for a fairer redistribution of wealth & opportunity not just through taxes and social programs, but through a shift in consumption towards ethically made and traded goods and services.

3. You don't have to fight the ubiquitous 'them'... just infiltrate. Better yet, start something. No idea is too weird, too small, too insignificant - as evidenced by this seriously engaging and perfectly Australian campaign for Give a Crap: a feel good toilet paper that uses 50% of its profits to build toilets in the developing world.

4. Become an ethical consumer. You don't have to do it all the time or for everything you buy. You can use the Social Trader's Social Enterprise Finder to find more opportunities to convert your shopping dollar into wider social and environmental benefits.

5. The greatest social benefit and psychological wellbeing still comes from earning a living wage. Trade unionism is dirty term in Australia these days, particularly at the moment, but it's cultural reform from within that is needed, not a doing away with unions altogether.

6. Unions and other institutions tasked with organising social movements can be more than just advocacy groups. Through member contributions and community 'buy-outs' they can fund important projects and be a powerful force for good, improving social outcomes, and environmental ones too.

The Earthworker Cooperative is just one example of a business raising funds by offering communities the option to own and better control their livelihoods. Their Eureka's Future Project proactively addresses the decline of the manufacturing sector by offering a secure and viable transition for cooperative members into renewables, thereby helping bring forward the wider economic restructuring necessary for us to address climate change.

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Build Your Own Box

With the imminent launch of extras being bagged and named, it will be oh-so-much-easier to BUILD YOUR OWN BOX (or bag)! If you're an avid home cook and entertainer, have allergies, or just don't like a particularly common fruit or vegetable, selecting a range of produce items from the "extra fruit and veg" section of the webstore certainly makes sense.

So if you like to have a bit more control over what goes into your weekly cooking pot, or on your raw vegan platter, then expect to see extras packaged nicely into named brown paper grocery bags or boxes in the coming weeks.

Just another nifty development aimed at making your whole Fair Food experience more convenient and fun, so you can get on with the business of making and sharing a fair food feast.

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News from Our Food Hosts

We're going West... life is peaceful there in the open air!

After a good year of working out delivery routes and packing schedules we've finally managed to open up in the Southwest! We've had a lot of interest, and considerable help from our newest Food Hosts to make it possible! We now deliver to Point Cook and Wyndham Vale.

Following what we hope will be a grand success, we'll be looking to add one or two more locations in Hoppers Crossing and/or Werribee - let us know if you're interested.

In other Food Host news, our Cadman Street and Murphy Grove Food Hosts have moved homes, so these locations are now closed. Not to worry though, we have new Food Hosts on Whitby Street in Brunswick West and Dean Street in East Preston. Here are the details and you can check them out on our map here:

Byron Court, Wyndham Vale, Thursday 6-7:30pm. Welcome Sarah!
Tennant Street, Point Cook, Thursday 6-8pm. Welcome Robyn!
Whitby Street, Brunswick West, Tuesday 5:30-8:30pm. Welcome Janelle!
Dean Street, East Preston, Thursday 4pm-9:30pm. Welcome Craig!

Thanks to Lucia and Adrian for all your support at your locations over the past 2 years!

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Food Host Feature: Virginia Lowe

Virginia is one of those avant-garde organic fruit and vegetable 'eaters' that has been buying organic produce for as long as they have been on the market. Her daughter Beck Lowe, is a permaculture expert in Heathcote near Bendigo, and together the Lowe Family have been strong supporters of CERES in their quest to be more discerning consumers.


Virginia really loves being a CERES Fair Food Host and chatting with the people who come to collect their goodies. Her passion for CERES isn't just about providing the community with access to reasonably priced organics. She also feels quite strongly that big supermarkets don't really have the community's interests at heart (think GetUp's recent "Woolworths the Pokies People" campaign), and so she buys as much of the family's other groceries from CERES as well. In her own words, "if someone is going to make a few cents from selling toilet paper, it might as well be an organisation that's doing some good."

For the last sixteen years, Virginia has run a manuscript assessment agency for people who want to write or illustrate for children. She runs workshops, e-courses and distributes a free monthly bulletin on children’s literature. Over forty children’s books have been published with the help of Create a Kids’ Book. She has written on children’s responses to books, based on the diary record she kept of her son and daughter’s book-contacts from birth to about eight (5,000 handwritten pages!). This was also the basis of her PhD, which was turned into a book called Stories, Pictures and Reality: two children tell (Routledge). She’d love to hear from you if your dream is to write or illustrate (or both!) a children’s book.

To learn more, visit www.createakidsbook.com.au or phone Virginia on (03) 9578 5689.

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Food Host Rebecca's Little Posties Spreading the Fair Food Love


A picture of Rebecca's boys, dropping a personalised letter about Fair Food into a letterbox in their neighbourhood. Rebecca says her 2 1/2 year old thinks it's great that they're telling families about "our farmer" and our "food box man." They also love being the postman. So cute!

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Mixed Dozen Meals: mystery meals interested in the local

People around Melbourne have started receiving letters in the mail inviting them to dinner. These people have signed up to be part of the Mixed Dozen community. They are interested in a local experience that is spirited, playful, and delicious - where they can expect dessert.

Mixed Dozen Meals

Mixed Dozen brings together neighbourhoods and local communities. It provides a space for them to play, create, converse and give through a shared meal. CERES Fair Food is supporting Mixed Dozen as a food box partner and is excited to see meals starting to happen after several months of planning.

It was The Baker who developed the Mixed Dozen manifesto, which aims to create a new type of dining experience. Mixed Dozen takes place in community buildings, local cafes or parks. Meals so far have been indoors, but as it warms up, Mixed Dozen looks forward to hosting picnics and playtime in the sunshine.

Early Mixed Dozen experiences have seen local flowers adorn tables, poetry written on placemats, and ideas and experiences of local space and local engagement explored.

It is all a bit of a mystery, and that is how The Baker wants to keep it.

So, if you're interested in creating playful and intimate environments with other guests, and rediscover the fun and enjoyment of knowing your locals, sign up to Mixed Dozen.

You can expect dessert.

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Fair Food in Broadsheet Melbourne!



Broadsheet Melbourne is one of those wonderful niche lifestyle publications producing original and engaging content on the very essence of what it is to live in a city like Melbourne. Food, drink, fashion, arts & entertainment; it's all covered in wonderful blog-style snapshots that compel reading from top to bottom.

Broadsheet writers don't just tell you what's what, what's on, and what's awesome in Melbourne, they also entice you out of your winter hibernation to try something new and different; reviewing in a way that makes you want to explore the nooks, crannies and otherwise off-the-beaten offerings of Melbourne.

And... along with a small diversity of alternative food delivery services, we were featured!

broadsheet.com.au/melbourne

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Save your box & save the world!

Look out for our 33% more attractive new kraft brown boxes and remember t0 flatten your box and leave it at your Food Host.  If it's clean and strong we'll reuse it, or if it's ready to go to the other side, we'll recycle it.


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