Shared Learning Days

The small but emerging sector of Community Food Enterprises – across the country but more specifically across Victoria – are a disparate group of passionate but mostly disconnected and non visible (particularly to funding bodies) enterprises which are heavily reliant on volunteer support, community goodwill and are united by their desire to implement change to the industrial food system and increase access to good food for all. The groundswell of desire to see these enterprises succeed is more vocal than ever before which is encouraging. However, in order to ensure these enterprises are viable, genuine support is needed to fill the gaps in capacity, funding and knowledge which is faced by each of the enterprises in varying degrees.

The most effective way to build this support is to bring these enterprises together to allow for connection, sharing of knowledge, identification of challenges and opportunities and to minimise the endless recreation of wheels.

Together these food enterprises can stand stronger than if alone and regardless of their individual objectives (social inequality, agricultural diversity, rural resilience, environmental impact, health, fair price to farmers etc) they can enjoy a supported and empowered environment in which to grow their enterprise and in turn the sector as a whole.

As part of the Thrive healthy Food Connect project, the Open Food Network has committed to delivering a number of ‘learning days’ in the second half of 2016. Key learnings from these workshops will be shared broadly and form the building blocks for which further strategic development of the industry will emerge.

Shared Learning Day #1

22nd September 2016

Attended by: Open Food Network, Baw Baw Food Hub, Beechworth Food Co op, Growing Abundance, Transition Banyule, Melbourne Farmer’s Markets, Sunraysia Local Food Future, Community Grocer, The Food eXchange, the Fair Food Challenge, Monash University Research project

Ten Victorian Community Food Enterprises gathered in Melbourne to kick off the first in a series of shared learning days that the OFN will be delivering in the later half of this 2016. The objective of the day was to build relationships and open dialogue between people working in the sector. The gathering reflected the great diversity of CFEs with a mixture of food coops, farmers markets, family businesses, food justice charities and other initiatives represented. The conversations highlighted common challenges confronting the CFEs on an operational level and the sector more broadly.

Complete workshop notes available here

Shared Learning Day #2

29th June 2016

Attended by: Baw Baw Food Hub, Grow Lightly, Edigrocer, Beechworth Food Hub, Hepburn Wholefoods Collective, Young Wild Farmers, Rad Growers, Westies.

To kick off the day attendants were asked “How can we (CFE operators) collaborate to deliver an outcome which will have a positive impact on the Fair Food Movement?’. Some of the ideas included:

  • Creation of a coordinated language and glossary to help the indstry to communicate simply and consistently
  • Need for educating the community about quality food and its value
  • Create a sector wide map so enterprises can know where to get help
  • A document explaining the multilayered value that the fair food industry provides

One idea, ‘grow the growers’ was selected to be trashed out into more detail by the group. In this session the group characteristed new growers into three groups, including the young and landless, the young family tree changers and the retirees with a small parcel of land. The journey which these budding farmers can take towards becoming a short supply chain farmer was broken into 5 steps, and it was suggested that support material specific to each step would be valuable. The group brainstormed other actionable ideas which could be implemented to support new fair food farmers. To read more about these ideas and other discussions which took place among participants see the workshop notes.

Complete workshop notes available here

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