Nine years later
This week CERES Fair Food is nine.
Fair Food was kind of an accident, it started life as a weekly veggie co-op for CERES staff.
Each week a couple of co-op members would pack fruit and veg into boxes on a picnic table outside the old quarry hut.
There were no ambitions for the co-op; it was just an easy way for staff to have access to cheap organic fruit and veg.
Word about the staff co-op got out and somehow within a couple of years CERES was supplying ten little neighbourhood co-ops in the inner-North.
When the GFC hit one of the Rudd Government’s stimulus efforts was the Jobs Fund – its purpose to provide start-up grants for social enterprises that could employ people – lots of people.
With some start-up funding I dreamed maybe we could turn our group of co-ops into something amazing like Toronto’s Good Food Box or Brisbane’s Food Connect.
We applied, got picked, rented a warehouse in Northcote and employed thirteen workers.
Almost half of Fair Food’s original employees were people seeking asylum, the rest were refugees from the mainstream, including an ex-Satchi & Satchi marketing executive who, luckily for us, knew something about ecommerce.
I just counted our payroll and over this last year Fair Food employed 67 people – 29 of them were either seeking asylum or had recently migrated to Australia.
Having a job is a big deal. Having a job when you’re new to a country with no family or networks and English as a second language is a really big deal.
From CERES Grocery to our new warehouse we bought a philosophy of supporting local farmers which has carried through to today.
Over the last nine years, according to my back of the envelope calculation, I reckon Fair Food has spent about $17 million dollars buying food from over 200 organic farmers, grocery makers and wholesale suppliers (we have 150 on the books at the moment).
When we started out Fair Food was given a helping hand by some of the stalwarts of the organic industry.
In time we’ve paid that forward and supported young farmers and makers to grow their businesses from part-time hobbies into real operations.
Some have become good friends, others do their time and move on to something new and some have simply passed away.
These days Fair Food is supported by a network of around 70 volunteer Food Hosts and about 2500 regular customers – some of you have been with us since the co-op days some of you will have joined this week.
On behalf of the all the farmers, makers and suppliers, all the people who have found a job here and from CERES where Fair Food’s profits go to help people fall in love with the earth again – whichever you are, thank you.
Happy birthday everyone!
Send them home
Reading too many horrifying articles about our broken recycling system?
Help us reuse all the packaging we send to you by leaving it out at home or at your Food Host for our drivers to pick up.
Cardboard boxes are one of Fair Food’s biggest energy users (it’s true, more than fuel). So there’s a huge upside as well as saving trees and a zillion litres of water.
Simply leave all our cardboard boxes, eskies and frozen ice bottles out at your food host or your house for our drivers to pick up
And as long as they’re clean and in tact we’ll keep using them as many times as possible.
No box left behind, no box left behind…..
Have a great week