Su Dennett established HRN with Maureen Corbett in 2008 as a means to support local farmers and food artisans; to encourage regenerative, permaculture, organic and biodynamic food growing practices; to reduce food miles; and to link residents with fresh, nutritional, ethically and locally grown food. The local Veggie Box scheme came about in 2009 when Su learnt about how much fresh produce was travelling from local farmers, in particular organic farmer Rod May’s farm in Blampied, to Melbourne.
Purchase and distribution principles
HRN seeks out regenerative growers with the aim of procuring fresh and wholefoods, as well as specialities like tempeh, as locally as possible.
Veggie boxes are available on a weekly basis during summer and autumn. Wholefoods are also set out on a table near the house on a weekly basis. Bulk quantities can also be ordered i.e. wheat and other grains for bread making, 10 litre casks of local organic olive oil.
Relationships with suppliers have been built up over many years. To minimise transport, wholefoods are purchased together with other similar local ventures such as Hepburn Wholefoods Collective and Spade to Blade catering.
Distribution of produce is promoted via local community networks; HRN emails, website and blog site; and via word of mouth.
Location of suppliers and quantities distributed
Su chooses the closest possible ethical growers. In some cases this results in produce coming from interstate. Examples of some staple suppliers are listed below. Additional seasonal produce and suppliers are not included in this list.
Veggie boxes– Captains Creek organics- Blampied. Previously 40 boxes per week but more recently 8/9 boxes per week. Su indicates this reduction is due to additional veggie box schemes being established over the years as well people growing more of their own food.
Grains and Pasta– Burrum Biodynamics, Marnoo, NW Victoria; also Powlett Hill Biodynamic grains, Cambelltown
Olive oil– local
Seaweed– Tasmania, brought to Victoria via people travelling
Quinoa and adzuki beans– Biodynamic growers in Deloraine, Tasmania
Rice – from Slater Farm, NSW. Rice is rain fed and not grown in irrigation areas
Pulses, grain and nuts- Avoca (central Vic), and South Australia
Dry fruit and avocados– from Irymple, north west Victoria
Tahini– not local
Fresh turmeric and ginger – Free Farm, NSW
Approximate Quantities p.a.: – Rice 400kgs; Grain 1 tonne; Pasta 100kgs; Pulses- 300-400kgs; Olive oil- 100ltrs;
In this model infrastructure is kept to a minimum because the food distribution base is Su’s house. Not paying for premises or other overheads, and using personal funding, keeps costs down. Collection of goods is shared between other similar-focussed ventures in the local area, as outlined above. This allows prices to be kept to a minimum. Melliodora is a no waste community so bundling up bulk wholefoods into smaller quantities is done by using recycled packaging and glass containers.
This small venture is outside regulations. It has not been set up as a livelihood. Local Government regulations are slow to change. Su is always working on the edge towards the common interest with the intention that regulations will ultimately change to reflect what is happening or needed. Tiered responsibility is needed in relation to impact of regulations- differing levels of regulation are required for different models.
Sharing information and models
As a champion of local ethical foods, and the first to set up such a model in the local area, Su encourages the start-up of similar ventures, such as Mary’s Coop in Glenlyon, Hepburn Wholefoods Collective, and new Veggie box schemes. Su works collaboratively to share information and suppliers and to explore suitable models.
Daylesford Culture Club
HRN runs Daylesford Culture Club, a community group that meets on the first Saturday of every month to encourage the skills and knowledges required for people to feel confident to ferment foods and drinks at home. DCC runs free workshops and information sessions about every aspect of wild fermentation. Previous workshop topics include medicinal ferments, sourdough baking, cheese making, miso making and olive curing. DCC teams up with local producers who grow vegetables for people to ferment: gherkins for the annual community pickling day and cabbages for the annual community krauting day. DCC was established in autumn 2016 by Meg Ulman, co-convenor of HRN.
HRN and DCC are auspiced by SHARE – Sustainable Hepburn Association.
Contact details: Su Dennett, Fourteenth street, Hepburn Springs 3461 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type: Not-for-profit local ethically grown wholefoods supplier and Community Supported Agriculture veggie box distributer
Location: Melliodora Permaculture farm, Hepburn Springs
Products distributed: Seasonal vegetable boxes, pulses, grains, rice, pasta, olive oil, dried and fresh fruit, avocado, tahini, seaweed, nuts, honey, tempeh, fresh seasonal produce.