Sept. 19, 2013

Seeding our Food Future Cafe Conversation

MOTION was the impression from the Seeding Our Food Future Cafe Conversations at Randwick Sustainability Hub on the last Saturday of national Fair Food Week, 24 August 2013.

"There was this sense of movement", said Russ Grayson of the national community gardens network and the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance.

"The event flowed seamlessly from activity to activity, largely due, I suggest, to the planning of Tina Dimetriou with her one-woman business, The Event Consultant, and Randwick City Council's sustainability educator, Fiona Campbell. 

"Add to them a team of participants who stepped in to lend a hand and you ended up with a dynamic, community focused and community led event. 

"It emphasised the reality that people can self-organise and it built on the great Australian tradition of communities helping themselves".

This was the third and final of Randwick City Council's contribution to Fair Food Week and followed the PermaBee in the Permaculture Interpretative Garden a week before, and the 3-Council Paddock To Plate workshop at Barrett House community education centre the following Wednesday.

Fiona had to cut off registrations when they started to grow too rapidly so that all participating could have their say at the cafe conversations that were modelled on the World Cafe formula. 

People moved around the tables that had themes of:

  • Developing food democracy (table host: Nick Rose, Think Food/Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance)
  • Recipe for healthy eating (table host: Briggette,Sydney Food Fairness Alliance)
  • Building a fair food system — the role of social business (table host: Julian Lee, Sydney Food Connect)
  • Youth — the future (table host: Jo Baker, Youth Food Movement)
  • Community — taking the initiative (table host: Russ Grayson, Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network/food system consultant)
  • Organics (table host: Catriona Macmillan, organic food consultant).

The Cafe Conversations followed a brief address by the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance's Nick Rose in which he reminded participants that theirs' was one of more than 100 Fair Food Week events around the country. 

"I also briefly spoke about the Alliance's Peoples's Food Plan, Australia's first crowdsourced policy direction document produced by people coming together in forums and kitchen table conversations around the country", Nick said.

"The People's' Food Plan has been a point of focus for people interested in the food we eat and how it gets to them and it serves as the advocacy platform for the Alliance". 

Introduced by Fiona Campbell, the host of ABC Gardening Australia, Costa Georgiardis, MC'd the event and made one of his inspiring opening speeches.

Launching the artwork

During afternoon tea, we went into the Permaculture Interpretive Garden where Randwick mayor, Tony Bowen, launched the mosaic artwork produced by children and installed by community people. 

The purpose of the mosaic, the production of which was guided by community artist, Karen Weiss, is to bring colour and life to the area around the barbecue shelter. In this it has succeeded. 

DIY dinner, then a film and talk

Many at the afternoon's event stayed on to help prepare and eat salad and pizzas made from Sydney Food Connect veges and flour (Food Connect is a community supported agriculture scheme sourcing organic food from Sydney region farmers for Sydney urban eaters). Joined by others coming for the film, this was a participatory, DIY kitchen event and the results were tasty and filling.

Meal creation and consumption gave plenty of time to check out the book freecycle, the Sydney Food Connect display and Permaculture East's table. The Permaculture East crew did good business selling seeds and their seed bombs which, when planted or otherwise deployed, would burst forth in a vegetative explosion of food-bearing plants.
Fresh — the Movie saw in the evening hours and after table discussions about the movie, the intellectual and culinary feast that has been Fair Food Week came to an end in Randwick for this year.

A surprising rapidity

"The rapidity with which Fair Food Week took off", said Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance spokesman Nick Rose " ... surprised us and gives notice to decision makers that the future of our food is well and truly on the table when it comes to feeding our country.

"Significantly, it was a council that organised today's event, Seeding Our Food Future. This demonstrates that local government — Randwick Council in this case — has an innovative and important role to play in ensuring the nutritional health of their citizens, and a role in supporting the viability of small to medium, food related businesses and social enterprise in their local government area.

"We organised Fair Food Week in only a little over two months. Once online the idea seemed to go a bit viral. We expected a moderate take-up for this, the first Fair Food Week, but we were surprised in a good way as the number of events increased not only in diversity but also in number, first through the 20 barrier and then on and on".

Seeding Our Food Future and the rest of the events around the country on this, the first national Fair Food Week, demonstrates that our food, where it comes from, how and by whom it is produced and what happens to the food waste is truly on the agenda for a great many Australians.

Fair Food Week presenters and facilitators:


Story and photos by Russ Grayson, 27 August 2013

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