Australian Fair Food Forum

How can distribution help farmers?

These notes were taken from a group discussion session held at the Food Sovereignty Convergence in Canberra 2017.

  • Led by Deborah from a food buyers club
  • How can we work better with farmers to improve range and increase suppliers
  • Small farms → buyers clubs. Larger farms → Food Connect


  • Volunteer burn out
  • Don’t want to become the system we’re trying to replace
  • Support farmers + low income eaters= limited strategies
  • Pop up structure- volunteer cost, no facility for animal products. Works better for plant foods
  • Food distribution costs


  • Permanent space (costs $$$)

  • Share space with similar groups

  • Become another hub in network, not a terminal probe (take on the back load to food connect)

  • Convenient drop-off for famers

  • How to incentivise volunteering (without undermining core principles)

  • Impermanent spaces (reduce property $$)

  • Reducing logistics (reduce admin $$)

  • Cross subsidising between consumer groups

  • Higher income subsidises lower income (buy 2: one for you and one for someone else)

Volunteers vs. paid labour:

  • Volunteers: More admin to manage, burn out issues, lower cost, aligns with values
  • Paid labour: Professional, on time, higher costs
  • Who’s picking up the food? Can it incentivise consumers to see the farm?

Farmers Markets

  • Difficult to get to and manage a market stall

  • Costly market stall fees

  • Certification costs

  • Cost of time away from farm and transport costs

  • Outside skill level (good farmer does not = good marketer)

  • Multiplicity of distributors = complex transport and pricing

  • Cooperative market stall can work

  • Example of farmer driving to farmers market where volunteers help unload and set up. Market also includes a food hub to deal with surplus food (Rather than discount at end of market) → hub distributes via delivery box/other channels at set (fair) price. Melbourne Farmers Market planning on doing something like this.

  • Waste- reduce cost to consumer

  • Help small-scale farmers reach a profitable level

  • Collective sharing

  • Open Food Network for info management and reduce admin costs

  • Works better with young farmers.

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These are two issues that are such a sign of the times in regards to the nanny state and regulations that stifle the free flow of entrepreneurial spirit and seek to consolidate power and dependence on state and controller organizations.

Regards Russell