Have you heard of slow money? Sounds weird, right? Maybe you’ve heard of slow food though, which is an idea that’s been around for long enough now that pretty much everyone knows what it means – it’s basically the opposite of fast food!
- good (high quality, flavoursome, and healthy)
- clean (production that doesn’t harm the environment), and
- fair (accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers).
We even have an accredited Slow Food Farmers Market once a month at Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne, run by the wonderful folk at Melbourne Farmers Markets (disclaimer: I’m on the board so of course I think our operations team that runs markets is marvellous!) It’s a perfect fit, because Farmers Markets embody all the principles espoused by the Slow Food movement.
But back to Slow Money – how does it fit in? It’s really just an extension of the same ethos, but as it applies to money. It’s basically a movement to organise investors and donors to direct their capital towards small food enterprises, organic farms and local food systems, and through doing so improve the economic sustainability and resilience of farms and farmers, their communities and towns, and by extension our entire food system.
Slow Money was started in the US by a guy called Woody Tasch, and has now spread to Australia, as well as lots of other countries around the world. Since 2010 it’s invested more than $57 million into regenerative farming enterprises!
It’s on our minds because we’ve been fantasising about attending the upcoming SOIL conference in Boulder, Colarado in October. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to attend a conference called SOIL? It actually stands for Slow Opportunities for Investing Locally, and will explore the links between actual soil and the soil of a restorative economy.
The demands of running a seasonal farm means we’re probably not going to get there, but of course there are many, many moves in the right direction here in Australia, like the new ORICoop Investment Trust that was launched this week. If you haven’t heard of it yet, have a look, particularly if you’re interested in finding practical ways to support and invest in organic farms. The best way to get involved is through their Pozible campaign (which ends in 14 days).
Slowly, gradually, all around the world, people seem to be waking up to the fact that there’s a better way to grow, distribute and pay for our food, and that we – just simple, everyday people like us – have waaaay more power to influence it than we think we do!
As organic farmers we experience this every day, whenever our customers choose to buy food from us rather than the supermarket. The growing number of people that care enough to seek out food that is produced locally, in a way that improves the environment rather than degrades it, who choose to eat seasonally rather than buying imported fruit and veg out of season, and who choose to buy direct from farmers through accredited Farmers Markets, online platforms like the Open Food Network or from the farm gate – all of those small buying decisions add up to a big influence, pushing our food system in the right direction.
So thank you. You all give us hope!
It’s garlic time again! This will be our third crop of garlic we’ve planted on our wee patch at Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens. The planting of the garlic is like our marking of time, marking how many seasons we’ve been here, how much we’ve learnt along the way and how much more we have to learn still….
This week we’ve been gleefully ripping out our spent tomato crops, feeding and reforming the beds ready for the garlic that we’ll plant in there next week. The summer just gone, despite weird climatics and lack of rain, has been great for us. We’ve had our usual bumpers, happy surprises and dismal failures, but it’s been the first season where we’ve really felt like we’ve had lots of produce to get out into the local community and onto local plates.
We began doing a small number of mixed veggie and fruit boxes in February as a trial and they have been beautiful. We have now been supplying 8-10 boxes, full of our produce, Katie and Hugh’s fruit, sprout bread and Hunter Harvests eggs and sprouts, every week for 10 weeks. Hopefully we can stretch that out through winter too. We’ve had great feedback from our box ‘guinea pigs’ which is really lovely as we don’t often get direct feedback from the people that eat our produce. Hopefully next summer we’ll be able to supply more mixed boxes to hungry households!
This summer has also been the first time we’ve been able to supply good quantities of produce to our local organic fruit and veg retailers as well as a good spread of local cafés. We’re very lucky in this town to have so many businesses that are actively seeking to use good quality local produce, and finally we’re starting to be able to grow things in large enough quantities to meet a small part of that demand.
This week we also got lots of our broccoli and cauliflower babies into their new beds as well as loads of salad, endives, radicchio, beets, silverbeet, parsley and more to go in next week! The mad rush to get everything in the ground before the soil gets too cold is (still) on!! We’ll breathe a sigh of relief when everybody has their little toes tucked into the dark brown soil and their leaves reaching up to catch the sun.
Until next time, hope everyone is enjoying these beautiful autumn days and don’t forget to get your garlic and brassicas in the ground!
Sas and Mel