Farewell Food Connect
Wednesday 5 February 2014…
THERE WAS AN ELEMENT OF SADNESS to this afternoon’s Food Connect Sydney pickup. It was the last for Food Connect City Cousins, the people who look after the collection points where subscribers collect their weekly box of local, Sydney region, seasonal fruit and veges as well as breads, olive oil, flour, grains and honey from Sydney’s Urban Beehive.
That’s because it’s the last day for Food Connect Sydney. The CSA (community supported agriculture) is merging with Oooby (Out Of Our Back Yards), a similar CSA-type service that gets as much as it can from Sydney region farmers and others a little more distant from the city. Oooby only does home deliveries, though the majority of Food Connect subscribers have by now switched to home delivery too.
It’s the social element at the City Cousin that I will miss. Not all City Cousins were crewed like the Randwick one, however, some being just collection points where people came and went.
I recall the early days here in Randwick when families would come around to collect their food box and their young kids would spend time drawing on the whiteboard. I recall the young girl who would start devouring the cherry tomatoes even before she and her mother had left, and the kids who would get stuck into the fresh, sweet carrots. I also remember fondly the City Cousin afternoons when the weather was fine and we would set up out in the Permaculture Interpretive Garden (not in winter, though).
Started by Julian Lee, Food Connect Sydney has served organic eaters wanting to support the region’s family farmers for the past four years (the long-running Food Connect Brisbane continues its work). Food Connect created a number of paid jobs in the local food sector, a point of difference to the voluntary community-based food co-ops and organic buyers’ groups.
One of the long-time members just collected her last Food Connect box and said farewell. She said she’s emailed Oooby to get clarification of what they mean by the word ‘natural’ in the email they sent to the Food Connect subscribers they are absorbing. Like me, she finds it one of those vague, slippery words and one too-often used by marketers. She’s been a happy Food Connect Sydney subscriber and I’ll miss her cheery presence at our City Cousin.
So, now I’ll have that extra hour late on Wednesday afternoons to myself. No more sitting here reading or writing on my iPad and stopping for a greeting and a chat as subscribers come by for their food box. No more watching people open their box to see what’s inside and swapping something they’re less fond of for something they like in the swap box. No more shutting the door as the birds call their evening song and the day fades to the in-between time of twilight.
But what I have, here now, is what another long-term subscriber left when she said farewell — a box of chocolates as her thank you. That’s nice. And so too, I’ve just learned, are her chocolates.
Thursday 6 February 2014…
Excerpt from an email from Oooby to people who subscribed to Food Connect:
“We’ve received important feedback from some of you which shows we underestimated the strength of community in this program, as well as the convenience offered. We would like to continue the City Cousin program…”.
Seems a little prior communication with Food Connect members might have avoided this. Communication with clients and finding out what they like is never amiss in any business, including social enterprise.