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2011Press Kit

Food Connect Sydney3/2-8 Parsons St. Rozelle NSW 2039 (02) 8094 1882

TABLE OF CONTENTSContact information ........................................................................... 1 Company profile ............................................................................... 2 What makes Food Connect different? .................................................. 2 Why I started Food Connect Sydney ................................................... 3 How we source our products .............................................................. 3 What is a social enterprise? ............................................................... 4 Social Return On Investment ............................................................... 5 Recent initiatives: Carbon footprint ...................................................... 6 Share the Harvest .................................................... 6 Adams Apple ......................................................... 6 With each box, Food Connect builds community ................................. 7 Why farmers are an essential part of our community .......................... 8 Why local? ....................................................................................... 9 FAQs: Organic and chemical-free produce ........................................ 10

Food Connect Sydney is a dy-

Company profile

Food Connect Sydney staffers at our first anniversary celebration in 2011.

namic social enterprise that has been linking farmers with city folk since February 2010. We source organic and chemicalfree produce from local farms, pay farmers a fair price for their produce, and deliver delicious seasonal fruit and vegetable boxes to our subscribers in Sydney. Because we operate as a social enterprise, social and environmental outcomes are an important part of the bottom line.

PRESS CONTACT:Julian Lee, Enterprise [email protected] [email protected] (02) 8094 1882 | (04) 0301 3366 COVER PHOTOS:Front cover (clockwise from left): Bolis Longy from Mamre farm in St. Marys (Alex Craig); City Cousin Anahita and her son, showing off her garden; Apples from a visit to CERES; Phil Lavers from Moonacres Farm in Fitzroy Falls; Broad beans growing at Moonacres Farm; Geoff, a Food Connect subscriber, and his chook Mange Tout, Food Connect box contents Back cover: Food Connect apples



Food ConneCt


Fair. Farmers receive at least 40 for every $1 we receive for each box. Healthy. All our produce is organic or chemical-free. Local. Our farmers are located within about 250km from Sydney. Direct. We purchase the majority of our produce directly from farmers. Community-oriented. We distribute most of our products to subscribers through a network of City Cousins, or like-minded Sydney residents and community groups. We encourage all our subscribers and City Cousins to get to know our farmers and each other through seasonal farm tours and other events we organise throughout the year.


2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney

2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney


Why i started food ConneCt sydneyI got involved with Food Connect because I believe the Food Connect model offers farmers a fair deal while giving consumers an opportunity to learn more about who grows their food and how it is grown. I believe these are two fundamental aspects in creating a fair, healthy and sustainable food system. Seven years ago, I began working with commercial market gardeners in the Sydney Basin to promote sustainable agriculture. Of the 2000 farms at the time, there was at most five organic farmers. Almost all the other farmers I spoke to believed that organics were either a lie or impossible to achieve in Sydney. I also saw the extremely difficult market conditions under which the farmers had to operate. Unlike other industries, the farmers often got the rough end of the stick; farmers received very small returns for their hard work and prices were set by external agents. I then moved to my bush block in the Hunter in late 2005 and started a small biodynamic commercial market garden supplying to Singleton residents. Over the next three years, I discovered firsthand the joys and challenges

Julian LeeenterPrise Coordinator & Co-Founder, Food ConneCt sydney

ery dollar spent on their produce in the supermarket. In addition to poor returns, the isolation that many farmers face and disconnection with the people who should value their produce is a major contributor to an appalling suicide rate and the significant number of farmers that are simply walking off their farms. In 2008, I had the opportunity to attend Terra Madre, the International Slow Food conference in Italy. Speaking with other small producers and slow food advocates at the conference confirmed for me that the situation small farmers face in Australia is not unique. I came home, stopped operating my market garden on a commercial basis and started looking for other ways I could help make sustainable agriculture viable in the Sydney region.

What is a Social Enterprise?

nition in Australia, most agree that a social enterprise is an organisation that trades to achieve social (and environmental) outcomes. In Australia, most people who want to start an organisation aimed at benefiting society or the environment follow a not-for-profit model. Not-for-profit organisations generally rely onand must continually seek outgrant funding or donations to stay afloat. If the funding runs out, the good works stop. For-profit companies, on the other hand, are designed to be selfsustaining in the sense that sales, not grants, keep the company going. However, for-profit companies are legally obligated to prioritise wealth creation for shareholders over other values, such as social good and environmental protection. The social enterprise model is designed to address some of the flaws in traditional not-for-profit and for-profit models. Social enterprises create a trading organisation that can sustain itself through sales, much like most for-profit organisations. But social enterprises consider well-defined social and/or environmental objectives equally important to their bottom line. In other words, they cannot abandon their social or environmental goals for the sake of increased profits.2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney

While the term has no strict defi-

Here are some of the features thatSocially

make Food Connect Sydney a social enterprise:

Financially We pay farmers a fair price. At least 40% of our box price goes to the farmer. We increase sales to farmers by buying more of the crop. We can do this because all highquality food that doesnt meet size or shape specifications is still suitable for our boxes. We purchase our products from local producers, rather than simply seeking out the cheapest product possible. We do not pass on profits to shareholders. Instead, any profits are channeled into initiatives that help our community and our environment.

We almost always buy direct from the farmer. We buy locally (mostly within about 250 km of Sydney), which keeps money in the local economy and helps small farmers in our community stay in business. We support small/new farmers by having a flexible purchasing policy. We work with community groups and encourage our Subscribers, City Cousins, and Farmers to become active participants in the community. We choose to work with small businesses with similar philosophies. Environmentally We buy locally, which keeps food miles down. We buy from ecological farmers, all of which are certified organic or chemical-free. We reduce waste by buying more of the crop. We can do this because all high-quality food that doesnt meet size or shape specifications is still suitable for our boxes. We are actively working towards Carbon neutrality.

of being a primary producer and continued to talk to many farmers about how to make organic farming viable. It became clear to me that most small- to medium-sized farms are not viable and are unlikely to become viable. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the current market situation ensures that farmers see as little as five cents for evmiles for each box is around 250 km. The produce is super fresh; most of it is picked the day we pack it. We never buy from overseas, rarely buy from interstate and almost always buy our produce directly from the farmer.

It was soon after this that I was inspired by Robert Pekin and his passionate team at Food Connect Brisbane and decided to make a similar venture happen in Sydney with the help of a bunch of other inspiring foodies. We opened our doors on 15 February 2010 in Arndell Park, NSW. We currently share a warehouse with likeminded partners in Rozelle, has a wide selection of items most of our subscribers would regularly purchase and sell additional fruit, vegetables, dry goods and groceries to supplement the boxes. To get a better sense of where we get our products, you can visit the In your box page on our website, where we give our subscribers a weekly summary of where their produce came from and how it was grown.2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney

How we source our productsOur sourcing policy ensuresthat our subscribers get the best local, organic or chemical-free produce we can find.

To learn more about social enterprises, visit:Social Ventures Australia School for Social Entrepreneurs Centre for Social Impact Social Traders

The food in our boxes is chosen from the closest organic or chemical-free farmer to Sydney. Many of our farmers are right in the Sydney Basin. The average number of food3

We pick from what is seasonally available and aim to give our subscribers as wide a range of produce as possible. We try to make sure each


How is Social Return On Investment measured?Here is a brief summary of how Social Ventures Australia determined Food Connect Sydneys SROI: 1. Define goals and timelines. Food Connects SROI considered realised and estimated social value over a five year period. One of our main goals was to establish methods for measuring and increasing our social impact over time. 2. Identify possible stakeholders. These are not stakeholders in the traditional sense, but are instead segments of the community that might experience change as a result of Food Connect Sydneys operations. In this analysis, the farmers, subscribers, City Cousins, Food Connect National Foundation, and federal government were all considered stakeholders. 3. Identify any assumptions. In this analysis, one key assumption was that subscriber rates would continue to increase at the same rate over the next five years. 4. Gather data. Social Ventures Australia surveyed subscribers and city cousins, interviewed farmers, and spoke to representatives from the Australian Government, Food Connect National Foundation, and Food Connect Sydneys management team. 5. Correct for deadweight. In other words, account for social outcomes that might have occurred regardless of Food Connects existence. 6. Quantify social benefit. Estimate a dollar value for the social benefit each stakeholder receives as a result of Food Connects actions. 7. Question assumptions. See what effect, if any, changing assumptions might have on the estimated dollar value of social benefit. Subscriber ratesthe main assumption used for Food Connects SROI analysis--were found to have only a small effect on social benefit. 8. Calculate SROI. Compare social value to the amount of money that has been invested in Food Connect thus far. For Food Connect Sydney, Social Ventures Australia found that we will return ~$8 in social value for every $1 invested over the next five years.

Recent Initiativesmeasuring our Carbon footprintConnect Sydney recently had its carbon footprint measured. The news was good: we have no reason to worry about a carbon tax, even if it were to be applied to a small business like ours. Food Connect can leverage off its sustainable business model and plans to be carbon neutral within three years. We estimate it will cost only around $1/month for subscribers to offset all the Carbon emissions related to the food they source from Food Connect. That includes the entire supply chain from the farmers, through Food Connect to the customer. Food Connects customers are already demonstrating their commitment to sustainable, highquality food production, and the business is looking forward to collaborating with them to minimise our climate impact.


Food Connects Share the Harvest program

share the harvest

makes our high-quality, local, chemical-free produce available to people in need. City Cousins receive $1 in credit for every subscriber box they help distribute. Many of our City Cousins choose to donate some or all of their credits to this program. To date we have distributed over $3,000 worth of food to community soup kitchens, including the Newtown Neighborhood Centre.

Using a combination of education, innovation and old fashioned community-building, Food Connect is

Giving back

As this program expands, we intend to provide a growing number of regular boxes to community soup kitchens and to work with our existing City Cousins that run homeless shelters. In this way, our community grows together.

Social Return On Investment ReportSpending a day in the offices of Food Connect is an illuminating experience. Sure, there is talk of budgets and delivery nightmares and the staccato sound of keyboards, as you might find in any office. But there is also a streak of passion running through the close-knit team that manifests in discussions of biodynamic farming in the break room and animated brainstorming sessions on how to get subscribers to embrace an unfamiliar vegetable. Even to the casual observer, it is clear that Food Connect is about farmers, community and the environment just as much as it is about high-quality produce. This collective passion for bringing together the Sydney community farmers, City Cousins and subscribers alikeis also evident in a more clinical measure of the teams success: Food Connect Sydneys recent Social Return On Investment (SROI) report. The SROI analysis undertaken by Social Ventures Australia found that over the next five years almost $8 in social value will be returned to the community for every $1 invested in Food Connect Sydney. For subscribers and City Cousins, this means healthy food on the dinner table, affordable access to organic and chemical-free food, and a greater respect for the local farmers who work hard to provide high-quality produce to Food Connect. For farmers, it means fair prices for their produce, a reason for optimism, and a sense that they are once again valued members of our community.

adams appleWhen Food Connect decided to offer ahome delivery service to its subscribers, Adam Schwartz was an obvious choice for the job. His family was already part of the Food Connect subscriber community and he had experience delivering food for OzHarvest. And so, Adams Apple was born. Both Adams Apple and Food Connect have similar business ethics. Through Adams Apple, Adam is determined to beat limitations that may be imposed on him and be an active member of the Sydney community.

Together, Adam and his support workers are a terrific and friendly team. Adams support But Adams Apple is workers help make not just another Food Connect partner. It is Adam (left) and support worker Chris (right), from Adams Apple this venture possible by driving the van and a small business that alensuring that every delivery arrives on lows Adam, who has autism, to achieve time. the self-satisfaction that he strives for and be of service to his community.2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney 6


2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney





communityCity Cousins Australianfarmers who sell their produce to large supermarket chains may receive as little as 5 for every dollar the consumer spends in the supermarket. In many cases, this large gap between what the producer earns and what the consumer pays helps force small farmers out of business. Here are a few statistics that illustrate some of the difficulties Australian farmers currently face: In 2006, the median age of Australian farmers was 52.1 This median is expected to increase, as younger generations choose other (more reliably profitable) careers over agriculture. Australian farms were mainly family businessesat least up until the 1950s, when major changes in the market and farming practices began pushing smaller farms out of business.2 Since the 1980s, the average farm size has increased by 23%. At the same time, the number of farmers has dropped by approximately the same percentage.3 High suicide rates in rural Australia have been linked to stressors such as drought, land degradation, and a perceived devaluing (by metropolitan communities and governments) of rural Australia as a contributor to Australias social and economic fabric.4 The family farm has traditionally been an important part of the Australian cultural landscape. But market changes have forced many of these family farms out of business,

Food Connect

Farmersbolis , st. marys (alex Craig)

Why farmers are an essential part of the Food Connect communitymaking farming a less palatable career choice for younger generations. At Food Connect, we believe a new model of food distributionone that connects innovative, ecologicallyminded farmers with city folkis the best way to keep Australian family farms in business.

How we support our farmersWe are very lucky to have the chance to work with many passionate, sustainable farmers in the Sydney region. We support our farmers by: 1. Paying at least 40 for every dollar spent on a box. 2. Paying promptly (within two weeks of receiving an invoice). Strangely enough, this is not standard practice! 3. Forging a cooperative (not competitive) relationship with our farmers. 4. Encouraging our farmers and subscribers to communicate with each other. We believe our customers will feel as passionately as we do about supporting local farmers if they get the chance to engage with the people and farms that grow their food. 5. Enabling our farmers to sell us more of their produce by not requiring our produce to conform to supermarket colour, size and shape specifications. In other words, if it is high quality but a little wonky, well take it. This helps our farmers stay in business, brings farmers back into our community, keeps consumer dollars in the local economy, and ensures fresher produce for our customers.

anahita and her son

phil, moonaCres farm, fitZroy falls

Because Food Connect is a social enterprise, actively participating inand giving back toour community is an important part of our bottom line. We provide food to neighborhood soup kitchens through programs like Share the Harvest, help like-minded small businesses like Adams Apple, and are always looking for new opportunities for community involvement.

Our Farmers are an essential part of the Food Connect community. In addition to treating our Farmers fairly and equitably, we set up farm tours and encourage our subscribers and City Cousins to learn more about the farmers and the farms that make Food Connect possible.

City Cousins are like-minded community groups or individuals who distribute boxes and grocery items to Food Connect subscribers on a weekly basis. Our City Cousins also organise subscriber events, help show subscribers how to use their boxes, and give back to their communities through Food Connects Share the Harvest program.

SubscribersSubscribers sign upand pay in advancefor a minimum of 4 produce boxes, which helps us guarantee fairly consistent demand for our Farmers. Many of our subscribers are actively supportive of the Food Connect mission, and show us that support by remaining loyal customers, helping out as volunteers, participating in farm tours and events, and helping us find more ways to give back to Sydney communities.

Wheres wonky? Every week, subscribers are rewarded for finding uniquely shaped produce in their box with a free loaf of bread. This is one of the ways Food Connect helps subscribers embrace produce that would not meet supermarket size and colour standards.

referenCes1. Agriculture in Focus: Farming Families, Australia, 2006. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008. Visited on 10 Oct. 2011, . Australian farms and farming communities. Australian Government 2011. Visited on 1 Oct. 2011, . Australia 2020 Summit: Th Future of Rural and Regional Australia. Australian Government 2008. Visited on 1 Oct. 2011. . National Rural Health Alliance, Inc. and Suicide Prevention Australia, Fact Sheet 14: Suicide in rural Australia. National Rural Health Alliance, Inc. 2009. Visited 1 Oct. 2011, .

geoff and mange tout


For more information, visitsloW food fairtrade australia and neW Zealand sydney food fairness allianCe




2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney

2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney


Organic and chemical-free produce

Are organic or chemicalfree products better for FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS the farmer?Yes. The dangers associated with highexposure to certain pesticides are not a matter of debate. Farmers, farm workers, and members of the public who live in conventional agricultural regions are likely to be exposed to the same pesticides used to treat crops, and as a result, are more likely to experience health problems as a result.5

Why local?Food Connect Sydney sources thevast majority of our produce from farms within a ~250 km radius of Sydney. We do this because: Local food is healthier (and tastier). Harvard Universitys Center for Health and the Global Environment have put together a nice white paper1 on this subject. Here is a summary of their findings: Ripeness. Produce allowed to fully ripen in the ground or on the tree is tastier and often more nutritious than produce that is picked early. Because local food does not have to move far from the farm, it is typically picked ripe and delivered promptly to the end consumer. Variety. Local food distribution networks encourage farmers to experiment with variety. Local producers can select food for taste and nutrition, because produce is not transported over long distances. Freshness. Local produce moves from farm to plate quickly and efficiently. Because long-term storage and handling can degrade the nutritional value and flavour of many foods, local produce has a distinct advantage in this respect as well. Foodmiles. By definition, local food is produced, distributed and sold in the same geographical region. For this reason alone, the carbon footprint of local produce is often lower than the carbon footprint of equivalent supermarket products. Local food is better for the environment. There are many reasons for this. Here are two of the main ones: Biodiversity. Local, sustainable producers typically grow diverse crops. Growing diverse crops increases biodiversity, which in turn increases food security.2 Local food is better for farmers. Here are a few of the main benefits farmers gain from distributing their produce locally: Economics. Farmers earn much more for every $1 a consumer spends on food sold at farmers markets and via local food distribution systems like Food Connect. Community. The advent of the supermarket has increasingly isolated farmers from the communities they feed. Local food networks give farmers an incentive to reach out and participate in these communities by sharing their food knowledge and showing consumers how their food is grown and where it comes from. Local food is better for the local economy. Local food keeps jobs and profits in the local community, rather than distributing them to large national or multi-national food distributors.

Because organic and chemical-free producers do not use pesticides, their production methods are generally safer for everyone working in or living near agricultural production regions.

Are organic or chemicalfree products better for the environment?moonaCres farm in Kangaroo valley, nsW

Whats the difference between organic and chemical-free?

Products are only organic if the farmer has demonstrated to a certifying body that their farming and production practices conform with national standards for organic production. Farmers who provide Food Connect with chemical-free produce have not gone through this certification process; however, they have formally agreed to only use inputs and production methods that conform with the organic standard. By purchasing from chemical-free growers, we aim to encourage our farmers to continue to develop ecologically sound farming practices and to care for their land, wildlife and workers. Supporting farmers as they work towards best practice growing methods and organic certification means that we are helping create a meaningful change in Australian agriculture.

Are organic or chemicalfree products better for you?If youre a child, yes. Eating organic or chemical-free products is particularly important for children. Studies have shown that exposure to certain commonly used pesticides through diet alone may impair a childs nervous system function1 and may also increase their risk of developing ADHD.2

confirm thistoo many to summarise here. The main points are that organic or chemical-free farming helps build soil6, encourages biodiversity6,7, and often has a lower carbon footprint8 than its conventional equivalent. For all of these reasons and more, Food Connect exclusively sources organic or chemical-free produce.reFerenCes1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Measure E8: Pesticide Residues on Foods Frequently Consumed by Children. US EPA 2010. Viewed 1 Oct. 2011, . Maryse F. Bouchard etal.Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides,Pediatrics 2010;125: e1270-e1277. Gene E. Lester and Robert A. Saftner, Organically versus Conventionally Grown Produce: Common Production Inputs, Nutritional Quality, and Nitrogen Delivery between the Two Systems, J. Agric. Food. Chem. 12 Sept. 2011 Article ASAP, viewed 1 Oct 2011, . Lea Zerbe, Is Organic Food Healthier? The Answer is Yes. RodaleNews, 25 May 2010. Viewed 1 Oct. 2011, . Soo-Jeong Lee etal. Acute Pesticide Illnesses Associated with Off-Target Pesticide Drift from Agricultural Applications: 11 States, 19982006. EnvironmentalHealthPerspectives 2011;119:1162-1169. Erik Stokstad, Organic Farms Reap Many Benefits. Science 2002; 296: 1589. Paul Maeder et al. Soil Fertility and Biodiversity in Organic Farming. Science 2002; 296: 1694-1697. Andreas Fliessbach etal. Organic Farming and Climate Change. Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) 2009. Viewed 1 Oct. 2011,

Yes. There are countless studies that


For everyone else? Maybe. The nutritional benefitsof choosing organic versus conventional products are still a matter of debate.3


For all of these reasons, Food Connect believes local food is better for our community.References 1. The Center for Health and The Global Environment, Is Local More Nutritious? It depends. Harvard Medical School 2010. Visited 1 Oct. 2011, . 2. The Center for Health and The Global Environment, Biodiversity and Agriculture. Harvard Medical School 2010. Visited 1 Oct. 2011, .

However, choosing chemical-free or organic products will reduce your exposure to pesticides over time. While the long term effects of many pesticides are unknown, common pesticides have been linked with a variety of health problems.4 For more information on organic certification, visit: organic



6. 7. 8.


2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney

2011 Press Kit | Food ConneCt sydney


3 / 2-8 Parsons St. Rozelle, NSW 2039 (02) 8094 1882