Local Organics Food Hub


Tags: Australia, community, food hub, Households, and Melbourne. Driven By: Business. Activities: Food Access Programs / Services, Marketing, Organic, and Processing. Locations: Australia. Location Detail: Melbourne and Victoria. Stage: Established. Business Model: Commercial and Social Enterprise. Function: Distribution, Education & Training, Processing, and Retail.

logosmall_1 Local Organics

Local Organics Food Hub is an incredible example of the far-reaching impact food hubs can have on household food access, community food skills and knowledge and farm viability through the creation of direct connections and relationships between urban residents and local farmers.

Like many good things, it started small in 2010 as a Melbourne collection point for the organic boxes of local organic grower Rod May. Co-founder Angie Orrego had recently made the commitment to eat ethical, local organic produce and made the connection with Rod on this personal quest, which quickly developed (Ange and Marcus being the people that they are) into facilitating a seasonal box scheme with a range of Victorian organic farmers to supply households across the city.

Local Organics Co-Founder Angie Orrego with their founding organic farmer Rod May

Local Organics Co-Founder Angie Orrego with their founding organic farmer Rod May

They now operate a community store, as well as offering wholesale organic produce to a number of cafes and businesses in Melbourne AND (yes, there’s more!) facilitate community events, including farm visits and food skill workshops.

As Angie told us in a recent interview, there are 4 main focal areas of their operations:

  • Responding to farmers needs

Because of their close relationship with growers, and the broad base of customers, Local Organics is able to respond directly to farmers needs, putting the call out to customers when there is a surplus of stock or trialling their own ‘Local Organics’ commercial batches of ‘value-added’ products such as char-grilled eggplants for sale to customers.

  • Reducing food wastage

Local Organics accept irregular shapes and sizes, defying the conventional food system trend of rejecting around 30% of produce that is aesthetically ‘imperfect’.

irregularVeg

  • Education and social change

A whole range of their activities fall under this section: farm updates, seasonal meal plans, food skill workshops and farm visits to empower people and organisations to engage with their food from a number of new perspectives.

A Local Organics food skills workshop

A Local Organics food skills workshop

  • Creating inclusive food systems

Local Organics Food Hub operates as a social enterprise and looks at re investing a % of profits back into this social cause, aiming to operate as a co-operative that benefits the three parties involved: famers, workers and eaters.

Local Organics Customers at the Community Store

Local Organics Customers at the Community Store

Key lessons leant to date about running a successful food hub?

Local Organics have found that:

1) A Food hubs role is dual, on one hand it advocates for the farmers it works with and on the other hand it represents customer needs back to the farmers. Creating clear and low maintenance information streams is important.

2) Economy of scale is important and benefits everyone in the food system, farmers, workers and eaters.

3) The importance of efficient physical space and systems can’t be underestimated.

Biggest challenges?

Local Organics Food Hubs biggest challenge is to generate the capital needed to upscale in both premise and human resources to be able to continue and develop their blue sky ideas.  Local Organics has survived for 4 years solely on income received through trade, while operating in a highly competitive marketplace with other businesses or entities that are better positioned and resourced through financing backing or public funding.

 Greater market forces, such as price and availability competition are impacting Local Organics Food Hub.  Since their genesis, the hub has witnessed a lot of development within the “local food movement” this has created sense of competition, a noisier, and sometimes green washed or manipulated marketplace.

Local Organics is challenged to create innovative ways to upscale and compete, yet remain true to the inclusive and community aspects of its driving aims.

Given the amazing hub they have created, and its far reaching impact on growers and eaters alike, we’re sure this incredible business is going to keep going from strength to strength. Wowsers, what a story…

Visit them at: http://www.localorg.com.au

Incredible edible goodness: A Local Organics Box

Incredible edible goodness: A Local Organics Box