West Gippsland is home to some of the most fertile and productive soils in the country. With high rainfall and long (enough) summers, it's a great place to produce food. We like to think of the unbounded richness of our region as a great foundation for encouraging re-engagement with our food.
Our aim is to promote an awareness of the ways that food is produced, the opportunities that exist for accessing local food, and in turn to engage our community with the benefits of local food, whether it be for our health, the climate or the local economy.
Healthy communities depend on healthy diets, and a healthy diet depends on access to high quality fruits and vegetables and other fresh produce. We are very lucky in that the very best source of such produce is available from local farmers right here in West Gippsland. Unfortunately, the way the food system is structured can mean that is very difficult for us to access good food that is grown very near our homes.
We believe that providing access to locally grown fresh produce for everyone is a great platform for maintaining and improving our health, while also supporting our farmers. It means we need to lower the structural and economic barriers to food access, by working to source and deliver local food to local people in the most cost effective ways.
On par with the production of food, we believe that a farmer’s equal greatest responsibility is the stewardship of their land. The health of our soils, rivers and ecosystems depends in a large part on the role that farmers are willing to play in managing biodiversity, water resources and soil vitality.
As eaters, we are all implicated in the way that farmers treat their land. If we are not willing to offer a fair wage in recognition of the time and effort required to undertake the important work of stewardship, then we are all responsible for the consequences to the health of our landscapes.
Increasingly, we will face some big challenges with regard to the production of food, its distribution, its impact on the environment and vulnerability to changing climatic conditions.
To overcome these challenges we need to embrace new ways of thinking about food production, the value we place on farming as a profession and the support that we provide farmers in continuously transforming their practices in adaptive, scientific and transparent ways.
We believe that the key to resilience in any system is diversity, and so the best thing we can do is to foster innovation by supporting farming communities to reconnect with one another and to share ideas, knowledge and skills.
The Food Hub model offers a new way of framing decisions, where the business is designed to work for the good of people rather than people working for the primary benefit of business. This subtle but important difference in the way priorities are set offers a model for a new economy where people and the environment share importance with respect to the sustainability of the business. Using this model, we are able to easily justify a focus on projects that offer benefits other than those which are purely economic in nature.