On 18 November 2013, AFSA held its first Annual General Meeting.
The main business of the AGM was to accept and confirm the nominations received for our new national Management Committee, which will have responsibility for guiding the work of AFSA over the next 12 months, and setting our strategic direction and priorities for the medium term.
The new Committee, which reflects an excellent diversity of skills, experience, and geographical location, as well as a healthy gender balance, is as follows:
President – Michael Croft
A farmer, Michael operates a vertically integrated, value adding, field to fork operation, bridging the city-country divide in southern NSW.
Passionate about biological farming, diversity and resilient food systems, he walks the talk of triple bottom line, promoting eating as an agricultural and ecological act.
Michael is a director of several industry organisations, a leader in the Slow Food movement, national spokesperson for the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, and author.
In 2012 Michael graduated from the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. In June 2013 he represented AFSA at the 6th Global Conference of La Via Campesina in Jakarta. In October 2013 he travelled to Rome to participate as the Australasian civil society representative in global discussions on food governance at the Committee on World Food Security (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation); and in November 2013 travelled to Brazil to participated in the International Planning Committee on Food Sovereignty.
Carol is a food and agriculture sociologist based at a university in Brisbane.
She has served on the committee of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance for two years, and has been elected to the position of Convenor of the Australasian Agrifood Research Network for the last three years.
Carol has researched and published on topics such as sustainable agriculture, global food security, supermarket power in the supply chain, urban agriculture and global land acquisitions. She has been involved in major international projects, collaborating with food scholars from Norway, the US and Canada.
She works from Coop Campus Farm, an urban house block with chickens, veggie gardens, fruit trees and mini fish farm (aquaponics system).
Kali currently serves a number of roles on the national Executive Committee of the Australian Science Communicators, including bookkeeping, and strategic financial and business development decisions.
She is keen to contribute some of her time and experience to AFSA due to my own personal interest, values and passion for organic, local and sustainable food sources, including my concerns at recent developments in the business practices of GM food technology and the apparent lack of an Australian independent 'watch-dog' for potentially unethical corporate food-practices.
Nick is the national coordinator of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, and a Director of the Food Connect Foundation, affiliated with the Brisbane-based food social enterprise, Food Connect. Recently he was also appointed as Project Coordinator, Food Systems, for the Food Alliance at Deakin University in Melbourne, where he is leading an initiative to establish a Victorian Urban Agriculture Network and an Urban Agriculture Charter for Victoria.
Previously he worked and lived in England (1993-2000), and Guatemala (2000-2006), where he founded and directed a human rights organisation. He completed in May 2013 a doctoral thesis through RMIT University’s Global Cities Institute on the global movement for food sovereignty, and has worked with colleagues in Victoria and Queensland on local food scoping studies, as well as on sustainable agriculture and rural futures strategy development.
Locally, he was a co-founder and leading member of the Coffs Coast Local Food Alliance and the Bellingen Community Gardens Association.
Ordinary Committee members
Sandy Murray, Launceston, Tas
Coordinator, People’s Food Plan, Tasmania
Lecturer, Nutrition and Dietetics, UTAS
Sandy is an active member of the growing local and fair movement in Tasmania, including as a leading member of the Food Alliance of Tasmania.
She has been teaching nutrition and food science at the University level since 2004, in a number of university settings throughout Australia, and takes a learner-centred approach to her teaching. She has previously worked in industry for 12 years as a dietitian, including food, complementary medicine and nutraceutical industries, with her responsibilities ranging from food regulation (claims substantiation), business planning, product development, nutrition marketing through to health professional education.
Sonja Pryor, Canberra
Sonja is the co-proprietor of Burrawan Forest Farm (near Port MacQuarie, NSW), which runs Angus beef cattle.
She is also currently a full-time student at ANU, completing a Masters in Food Security, Agriculture and Sustainability / Environmental Science; and is a Director of two companies.
She also holds a degree in public relations / marketing from the University of Canberra and spent 18 years in government working as a communicator for a wide range of government departments. She has a PR company, Redgrass Communications, which is currently focused on pro bono community work.
Her family background is in sheep out west and she is the first generation to be brought up in a more urban setting. She would like to combine her knowledge of communication and messaging to change the debate.
Brooke ‘Sparkles’ Murphy, Fremantle, WA
Owner, Abundant Earth Education
Member / Co-ordinator, Permaculture West (www.permaculturewest.org.au)
Co-founder, Seed Savers WA
Sparkles trained at Findhorn eco-village some 8 years ago and since then has devoted her life to creating life changing experiences for people through Permaculture education. She is extra-ordinarly passionate about both Permaculture and the need to return to community hence her courses have a flavour uniquely her own and are intented to achieve both aims. Sparkles has been instrumental in the re-creation of the WA permaculture community in the last 5 years and is now in the process of collaborating to set up WA's first ever Seed Savers Network.
Lauren Mathers, Barham, NSW
Lauren is a free range pig farmer who was raised on a beef and mixed cropping farm near Wakool Southern NSW. She is a wife and mother of 2 girls. Lauren is the co-founder and President of a local food group called Red Gum Food Group Inc and Market Manager of Koondrook Barham Farmers Market.
Lauren has been instrumental in raising awareness of the need to build a dynamic and resilient local food system; and the way people perceive farmers and the food they grow. She opened a Food Store/restaurant in 2008 that introduced a new food culture to the Barham region, that has continued to be successful with new owners, and she was the instigator behind the farmers market.
Bundarra Berkshires has been selling pork for 2 years and has recently taken control of the whole food chain from paddock to plate where the family are raising, boning, packing and making small goods on the farm, and selling to the local IGA supermarket amongst other direct sales through farmers markets and home deliveries. Lauren has worked in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management and studied a BA in Agriculture at UNE.
Cat Green. Brisbane, QLD
Coordinator, People’s Food Plan / Fair Food Week, Brisbane / SEQ
Co-founder, Fair Food Brisbane (www.fairfoodbrisbane.org)
Cat Green is a radical homemaker with a passion for both healthy, local food and people working together to chart the future of our towns and cities.
Brisbane-based, Cat is active in the local food movement and her own backyard garden. She is currently studying how we can collectively democratise the food system as well as finishing up project work in disaster resilience building.
Alice Blackwood, Adelaide, SA
Friends of the Earth / Reclaim the Food Chain
Coordinator, People’s Food Plan / Fair Food Week, Adelaide / SA
Alice has been involved in and passionate about the food movement in various ways for several years. She grew up in rural NSW, with both parents from farming families, and a thriving home veggie patch; and was heavily involved in the university food cooperative, Thoughtful Foods, in Sydney. Since then Alice has been involved in several community food projects in Australia and Europe, completed a Permaculture Design Certificate, spent time on several farms, as well as reading endlessly and connecting with other fair food advocates. Currently she works (as a volunteer) on food sovereignty issues with the Reclaim the Food Chain collective, part of Friends of the Earth Adelaide.
She recently qualified as a high-school teacher (science and geography), and is interested in environmental education and education for social change, having a combined degree in Environmental Science and Arts (Politics). She is especially interested in exploring ways of integrating biodiversity conservation with food production; and has a (not-so)secret dream to start a community radio show about food issues in Australia.
Public Officer — Fiona Tito-Wheatland
Fiona Tito Wheatland is an activist across a range of areas, including foster care, mental health and sustainable agriculture.
She co-authored a report to the Standing Committee on Agriculture in the late 1980s on Sustainable Agriculture, has farmed on an organic farm for 10 years, and is currently involved in urban food-growing.
She provides workshops on home food processing and Food Matters Workshops – changing the world bite by bite – who show people how to reduce the carbon and other ecological footprints associated with food.
Thanks to the 2012–2013 Committee
We are extremely grateful to our retiring Committee members, Fran Murrell, Nat Wiseman, Bob Phelps, Russ Grayson and Robin Krabbe, and thank them for the efforts on behalf of AFSA over the past 18 months.