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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

When it comes to the Ipswich Good Food Group’s commitment to supporting local farmers, it doesn’t get much more ‘local’ than Karalee’s Nature Cycle Farm. Just 20 minutes from town, this family owned and operated urban farm provides us with fresh nutritious salad greens (their radishes and edible flowers are super tasty too) every week.

Recently, owner/operators Josh and Jamie kindly hosted a couple of hungry IGFG volunteers for a tour, a chat and a cuppa.

Have you always grown food?/ How did you get started?

I didn't start growing food until I was 23, I hadn't really grown up with an agricultural background but had grown up in rural areas where agriculture is a main backbone of the community such as Mossman, North Queensland and Charters Towers in Central Queensland. I had always wanted to be a farmer but had been warned of the hardships and unreliable nature of the short-term turnovers within the industry so it wasn't until my partner Jamie got pregnant and had a few complications that these thoughts really became a grounded ideology.

What motivated you to create Nature Cycle Farm?

As Jamie and I started to discuss our future as a family, and the task of raising a child amongst the various pressures and predicaments that are affecting the environment we live in, the philosophy of trying to provide an ethical service to the wider community while being able to regenerate our wider environment became a strong motivation. As the realisations of equity, time and labour all sank in and the opportunity to rent Jamie’s parents’ family home and utilise the lawn space arose, it became a tangible foundation.

What do you grow? What's growing right now in your garden?

For the wider community we focus on salads, herbs and edible flowers. Right now we have around 45 different edible crops in the ground ranging from lettuce cultivars, Asian green varieties, kales, French and English greens, to a range of herbs and edible flowers. We have just finished planting out our native forage garden which has 85 edible or useable native plants so I am very much looking forward to that growing in.

IGFG specialises in local produce with a strong focus on community resilience. Tell us how this fits with your approach at Nature Cycle Farm?

Our approach is exactly as our philosophy entails - Local, Sustainable, Fresh. We believe that food production has gotten a little out of hand and with the constant rise of consumerism and wealth, the ideology of being able to have something whenever you want it has become ingrained.

By being local you have a direct relationship to the local climate, geology and ecosystem which facilitates a growing knowledge of what is and isn't feasible for a local community. It allows you to be in direct contact with the local community and vice versa. There is always a value in the honesty that this provides on both ends and it allows a platform for continuing growth through actual human communication i.e. face to face conversations.

Fresh produce to me means it is picked that day. Every harvest since we began has been harvested and delivered within 24hrs and this drives a philosophy of providing our produce to the people who are our wider neighbours.

Our relationship with IGFG has been one where I have been able to cement a commitment to what I believe is the reality of food - that healthy high quality produce should be accessible in the local community, should be grown by locals and should not have to travel 2500km to be on your plate.

What is your biggest challenge as a small scale grower/market gardener?

I don't think they are too dissimilar from the same challenges that any individual, family or business faces when you are trying to balance ethics, equity and longevity. My main challenges are trying to find the right balance between time, labour and equity in a highly diverse and dynamic market while trying to provide an ethical product to my wider community.

What is the most rewarding part of operating Nature Cycle?

The deeper satisfaction for my individual position through what I am able to provide for my family and wider community and what we as a collective are building for our future environment through conscientious choices.

Contact Nature Cycle



Interview by Dave Smith with Josh Bennett-Jones from Nature Cycle

Photography: Emma Harm/Tangible Media

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