• ipswichgoodfood

Well, another great year for IGFG. Reading through the President's Report from last year, we here in South East Queensland have had a lot to be grateful for in 2021 - no horrendous bushfires, spared so far the worst of COVID-19, steadying employment opportunities. Ipswich has thus far not seen the devastation of wild storms and destructive hail that we saw in 2020. Life is so good here in Ipswich that many are trying to escape here, so I’m sure you know someone caught up in the rental crisis. We all crave security, yet life can be unpredictable and there is often change and lack of control to challenge us.

Sometimes change and challenge can drive us to explore alternatives, to step outside of the accepted consumer paradigm. Here at IGFG we support food security as a community of buyers through challenging the food system; we think locally to reduce food miles and generate a resilient local economy; we think fairly to ensure living wages for small farmers; we think about the impact of agriculture on the environment, actively supporting regenerative and ecologically-sound farming practices, we think healthfully and eat seasonally to

have the freshest, most nutrient dense food for our families. We have been able to reduce end of week wastage by passing on produce to a local charity. Being part of this community of Ipswich Good Food Group is bigger than you think!

We continue to thrive in this awesome space at Park Street. We have worked hard to make it more of a one stop shop, broadening the range and listening to your requests. We do encourage you to let us know any specific needs you have so we can try to source them for you. And sometimes we just can’t help ourselves with the deliciousness we come across - I like to blame Nicola!

We do know, however, there is so much potential for Park Street to be used as a hub for good food initiatives. This year we have welcomed Savour Soil Permaculture running their courses here and look forward to a continued relationship next year. We have been approached by Ipswich City Council who are keen to support and promote any activities we plan as part of their Sustainability Initiatives. We are only constrained by our need for more hands on deck to run with their creative ideas and bring them to reality.

We have an awesome team of very committed, regular volunteers setting up, running the shop meets, packing away and closing down. Other regular not so obvious jobs are happening each week; changing the price signs, entering payments, updating spreadsheets etc. Our committee are in regular contact making everyday decisions on behalf of IGFG. Our secretary Nicola and treasurer Nelson have huge roles and would like to share the load, or at least have backups for various jobs. I would like backup for the weekly ordering,

especially as my personal circumstances are changing. Every job is a volunteer job and all members benefit from the giving of time and energy. These jobs are not difficult, but we do need commitment to keep functioning well.

I have enjoyed my time as President for the past 3 1⁄2 years, having stepped in as Interim President when Deb left. I’m really proud of where we are at both financially and as a community. I know that as a committee we have always tried to act for the benefit of the group. We are very diverse, but that does not equal discord because the vision is beyond ourselves. IGFG is very valuable as an agent of change and as a community the resource. I hope there is someone willing to step in as I bow out to meet my family’s needs.

Congratulations to Tracey Heit on her election as the new IGFG President. I know she will do a wonderful job and I am sure she has the full support of all the members.

Our Ipswich Good Food Group 2020 AGM was held on 15 November 2020. Thank you to all attendees on the day! For those of you who were unable to attend, below is our President's Report on the year that was 2020.

2020, the year that no one expected. A year of extraordinary pressure on people as disasters and a pandemic continue to impact lives and the environment across the globe. I wanted to focus today on one of our principles, Community Resilience.

The year began in the midst of bushfires. In Queensland, most of the fires occurred from September to December 2019, including concern very close to home in Bundamba, as the truly awful Black Summer evolved into a disaster of unimagined horror in northern and southern NSW, the Victorian highlands and Western Australia. According to reports, “the fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares ..destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and killed at least 34 people. Nearly three billion terrestrial vertebrates alone – the vast majority being reptiles – were affected and some endangered species were believed to be driven to extinction.” (1)

And then of course came the Coronavirus Pandemic, from which for the most part Queensland has been spared to date. But we did see restrictions affecting daily life and travel and interactions with loved ones. The personal and mental health challenge has been enormous.

Both these issues highlight vulnerabilities in the food system, which is our core business as Ipswich Good Food Group.

The bushfires caused immediate challenges in supermarkets. The Resilience Shift reported back in February “food shortages and increased prices are further predicted as supply chains have been hit with suppliers struggling to transport food across the country, with crops destroyed by fire and routes shut down, compounding the existing pressure on growers and farmers from the hot and dry conditions and widespread drought” (2).

It may seem callous to talk of community resilience in the face of whole communities devastated, but it is a worthy subject. In Mallacoota, for example, outside help was absolutely necessary there were no reserves of food, fuel, water, medical supplies or communications at hand when the fires had passed. Supplies ran so low there were reports of a looming “humanitarian crisis”. (3)

Coronoavirus had a multiplying effect on all of this system breakdown, exposing vulnerabilities at the national level. I guess we have all learnt some lessons on personal, community and national preparedness and having some “redundancy”, that is some stores of essential items. And we all saw the crazy run on toilet paper!

In the UK an article April 2020 describes A Wake-Up call for Food System Resilience and focuses on five principles that I believe would be good to incorporate into our forward planning: Build more regional-supply networks, increase our cooking skills, improve our collective food awareness, develop more closed-loop or circular systems, safeguard food retail diversity. We have plenty to learn and act on (see below).

For us here at Ipswich Good Food Group we saw the benefit of localised food chains, rather than transporting food across the country. Having some bulk supply helped to get us all through delays in shipping (and I can proudly say we never ran out of toilet paper!) We supported the vulnerable by packing boxes to be collected or delivered by members. The networks that Food Connect have developed with local farmers meant continuing supply of fresh produce, even to the point of enabling growth in our membership as people were looking for healthy, local food options and wanting to stay away from crowded places.

Our decision to move to these premises just over a year ago has shown to be a great asset for Ipswich Good Food Group’s ability to meet the needs of our community. It is a factor in our own resilience and has enabled growth in difficult times. The wonderful opportunities to promote what we do through the local papers, Landline and Ipswich City Council’s Sustainability Initiative plus our own pamphlets hand-delivered around Ipswich by members have boosted membership. We have developed new relationships with producers and given opportunity for vendors to use our space, increasing accessibility for them and us of quality, local products. We certainly have not “arrived” but look forward with optimism to maximising the use of this space as a hub for local food, a resource and model for the community of Ipswich, and a promoter of positive change in the food system.

In closing I want to acknowledge that there have been drivers of Ipswich Good Food Group from our beginnings 8 years ago and one of those drivers is Sonja. After 7 years as our secretary, and another year on committee Sonja is stepping down for a well earned rest, and to focus on her other passions. In all truth she has kept IGFG afloat, literally, through the early precarious years and her time and dedication behind the scenes in administration and supplier relationships has been immeasurable. We hope she will still lend herself to be Brains Trust as she truly holds a wealth of experience and knowledge. Sonja, you have been and are much appreciated as we know this community of Ipswich Good Food Group would not exist without you.

Onwards and upwards in 2021. Wendy Johnston

A wake-up call for Food System Resilience (4)

(Think Ipswich for Bristol and West Moreton/SEQ for West of England)

  • Build more regional-supply networks. Bristol should buy more food produced in a climate and nature-friendly way from nearby regions (West of England being a good start). This means land needs to be allocated for food production and skilled food producers are required. If more of this was in place we would be less reliant on other countries – in particular for seasonal fruit and vegetables.

  • Increase our cooking skills. We all need to be capable of cooking a meal from scratch with simple, fresh, affordable ingredients. Having the confidence to do this is about our personal self-reliance. It’s much less stressful when we know how to adapt meals if there are shortages of certain ingredients. Less pre-prepared food means less wasted packaging and usually money saved too.

  • Improve our collective food awareness. We must find ways to help everyone in Bristol understand where our food comes from, recognise the part we play in the local food community, and realise our potential in contributing to the resilience of that community. Increasing understanding could shift our attitudes and therefore our habits. We can have a significant collective impact by taking positive action together in large numbers, each person playing a part.

  • Develop more closed-loop or circular systems. Ultimately this is about conserving resources, and money – designing out unnecessary pollution and waste and treating anything that remains as a resource, not waste. The impacts of this are countless: more free water for our gardens from rainwater harvesting; provision of compost and fertilisers derived from food by-products to urban farmers that in turn encourages the city to collect green and food waste; healthier and more nutritious food produced in natural systems that regenerate the environment; the Bristol Pound helping money to keep circulating in the local economy rather than be lost to external shareholders.

  • Safeguard food retail diversity. As we are seeing, there is an inherent risk in relying only on supermarkets. We need a wider range of options for where we can all buy nutritious food, including independent businesses, market traders, farm shops, home deliveries direct from farmers. Numerous smaller scale food producers need alternatives to supermarkets in order to get their products to us and thrive as businesses. Diversity brings mutual benefit.





Justine Hansberry is just one of the many core volunteers helping to grow the Ipswich Good Food Group. This month she took a moment to share her thoughts on being an active member-volunteer.

When did you first get involved with the Ipswich Good Food Group? What motivated you to join?

I've been involved with IGFG for about three years now. I really love it. I had a few reasons why I joined. I read a book called "Sober Living For the Revolution" by Gabriel Kuhn. The book is basically a lot of interviews with people from the punk/straight edge scene from around the world and how they persist in a capitalist society and interfere with it by operating on a DIY level or by participating in things like food co-ops, which move away from the 'middle man' of grocery stores and work directly with farmers. When I moved to Ipswich, I just sought a group that would reflect those values and here I am three years on!

So, primarily my reason to participate was political and to show through my actions that I'm not happy with the current state of things. I also prefer to support farmers directly (or as directly as possible), rather than supporting large grocery stores. I also really love healthy eating and organic fruit and veges. What a treat to have them on your plate!

What volunteer roles have you filled at IGFG?

My primary role is in membership renewals, but I've done a fair stint on the tills and setting up as well. I am also known for being annoying to other volunteers and trying out any comedy ideas I have on them while I wait to buy stuff. Much to the other volunteers detriment.

IGFG is a membership-based, volunteer-run bulk buyers group. How necessary is it for members to volunteer some time?

It is unbelievably essential for volunteers to throw their hat in the ring! Not only does it give you a sense of being a part of something really good, but you're an active participant in how you see your food life progress as well as how you see Ipswich progress!

Whether it's in choosing what food you buy or having a say in how your money works for you and the group as a community. I think it's also essential for people to volunteer because otherwise everything is left to a select few who work tirelessly to keep things going as it is.

I really enjoy participating and I love feeling a part of something that is good for farmers, consumers, the environment and Ipswich. I love the sense of actually doing something, rather than just sitting on the side lines and thinking 'oh, someone else will do it'. I guess rather than being a passenger, you can actually be in the driver's seat and be the change you want to see in your world, in a small rewarding way.

In what ways can new members volunteer time to IGFG?

I think in a myriad of ways. I would recommend giving it a go on the cash registers. You get to meet the other volunteers and you get to see first hand how things operate. Setting up is also a great way to learn about how things run and see all the amazing produce we get in. I do the memberships and I'm sure there are probably other background tasks that need to be performed if you're not able to be on the front lines of the shop or if you're time poor, things like learning how to order stock and so on.

What have your experiences volunteering for IGFG taught you?

My experiences at IGFG have taught me a lot about understanding what's happening with farmers, in all shades. Not just dairy farmers, but rice farmers, soy etc. I've learned a lot about the beautiful side of Ipswich and it's community who are committed and hold similar values to me in terms of protecting the environment and understanding that capitalism and democracy in it's current state is not working for the 'little guy' in Australia or world wide. People are seeking a better life through community, rather than looking to our governments or major corporations to provide that for us. With IGFG, that relationship with community and farmers is a great building block to a better life for everyone involved. And you get to eat healthy, delicious food to boot!

To find out more or to add your name to the monthly roster go to

Interview by Dave Smith with Justine Hansberry