It was over a consoling drink after a campaign to stop the development of a nearby supermarket that the Bondi Food Collective was formed.
“We started small,” recalls Bridgette Di Ferdinando who co-founded the member-based Bondi Food Collective with locals Shann Akkersdyk and Justin Bonsey, all with a strong interest in nutrition and minimising waste. “We have a lot more of a following now,” she says of the community not-for-profit organisation, which provides access to affordable organic, chemical-free and package-free produce.
Each fortnight, members create their own produce box, which includes seasonal fruit and vegetables, dry goods like insecticide-free raw cashews from North Queensland and organic rice from Murrami, New South Wales. “It’s been amazing and we are growing with the development of an online shop and an education curriculum,” says Di Ferdinando. “It allows people to identify themselves with a community initiative that is about understanding where their food is coming from.”
Supplying Australian-grown produce isn’t the collective’s only initiative. “We want to teach people food survival skills, like how to use a whole chicken rather than buying the expensive parts. If we give people food survival skills coupled with accessibility to producers, it will kick start a movement and create more demand for organic produce,” says Di Ferdinando.
With their main supplier being Dural’s Common2us Organic Community Farm, Di Ferdinando explains how the collective locates producers: “We try to connect with the entire community rather than one farmer to reduce food miles,” she says. “The criteria is simple – we use common sense. We support all farmers producing quality Australian produce, whether it is certified organic or not. The term organic has been exploited and misused.”
And the Collective is also targeting local small businesses. “We launched the Bondi Food Collective buying initiative to help restaurants and cafes access chemical free produce. We do the buying for them as they are time constrained. We want every business in Bondi buying organic produce and to show them that it can be economically viable,” says Di Fernando.