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PacificEdge | November 22, 2017

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Farewell Food Connect

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.


  1. Nela

    Hi Russ
    Great article. I was a Food Connect Brisbane fan and used this “service” in Coogee for a while. I am yet again looking for a CSA program much like Food connect where food is locally sourced (I am a randwick resident).

    Would you recommend someone or comment on the Rhubarb or UNSW Food coops? I believe that they don’t have a control of where the organic produce is sourced unlike how Food Connect operated.

    Thank you!

  2. Russ Grayson

    Hi Nela…
    Thanks for commenting on this story. I was a Sydney Food Connect City Cousin at Randwick Community Centre.

    In answer to your questions:
    1. Rhubarb Food co-op. They’re located Thursday evenings at Barrett House on Frenchmans Road in Randwick. They obtain their foods through an organic food wholesaler. My undersatnding is that the food originates in Australia and, looking at the boxes it comes in, mostly from NSW. You would need check with them on this.

    2. Thoughtful Foods Co-op. I was a member of this before Sydney Food Connect started. They have a good reputation however I don’t know the origin of their fresh foods other than that they are Australian organic. I found the Co-op a little distant from where we live in Randwick, near The Spot.

    3. We are curently getting our food from Ooooby. It works much like Sydney Food Connect did, sourcing mainly certified and uncertified organics from small to medium scale farmers within the Sydney region, like Brisbane Food Connect, within four to five hours travel of the city — the distance giving access to different climatic zones and the foods they grow best there so as to obtain a nutritionally balanced range of foods for members. Exceptions to regionally-sourced foods are those that members want that aren’t grown commercially within the region, such as bananas that come from Queensland. We’re happy with the food quality and quantity.

    4. If you are prepares to travel a short distance there is Bondi Food Collective that distributes weekly and that obtains fresh veges from a Sydney-fringe market gardener and other fresh foods mainly from within the region. You have to go to them as they don’t deliver, much like Rhubarb Food Co-op.

    5. Monday evenings (needs varification) there is Sydney Organic Buyers that meets for distribution at the primary school in Randwick where Frenchmans Road starts, near Francis Street. They are an organic bulk buy, weekly food box scheme that has been running for some time. Their food is wholesaler-sourced, so how much is Sydney region I don’t know. We were members at one time and found the food good quality aand the quantity to be good.

    6. That’s about it as far as I know though someone is starting a food co-op (not a shopfront, more a weekly distributon) in Maroubra. To get back to your question, Ooooby is the closest to Food Connect srvicing the Eastern Suburbs (and the rest of Sydney too).

    Do you know about Fair Food Week at Randwick Community Centre ‘Skilling Up For Our Food Future’ on Sunday 12 October? 27 Munda Street starting 2.30pm and gong into the evening. Details at au of see the Fair Food Week website

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