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State of the Salad Bowl 2019

January 16, 2019

State of the Salad Bowl 2019

This time of year always makes us so grateful for family, friends and the privilege of doing the work we do, alongside our community of city cousins, farmers and food makers. While we’re dealing with our technological challenges, our successful equity crowdfunding campaign has given us our ‘Forever Home’ and we’re stronger and more determined than ever to keep supporting our local, fair food system. Here’s a summary of where we’re at:

Our People

Over 80 local farmers and food makers continued to amaze us with their produce and products this year, despite devastating drought. Much to my delight, we even saw the arrival of asparagus!!  Equally, we’ve been humbled by our farmers support and patience while we searched for a new IT system. One of the most memorable events of this year for us has been the support of our community throughout the equity crowdfunding campaign to buy the warehouse. The picture above depicts our launch party, and the following three months of the campaign allowed us to get to know and deepen relationships with our local community, our customers, growers and makers. We felt such a huge sense of connection and solidarity that is hard to describe in words.

We’ve welcomed some amazing new staff this year, which made up for losing a couple of favourites. Special mention for our communications dynamo, Camilla Tulley who has wowed us on Instagram, almost doubling our following in the space of 12 months. We’ve welcomed three new babies to the world… Mario and Kathryn, our apple farmers, welcomed their second child Natalie and two mini Food Connectors join our team - Guy welcomed Ayala, and Laura welcomed Elsa. Yes! There’s definitely something in our food!

Ecological Impact

We have consistently kept our food miles low, with total weekly distances for our fresh produce averaging at approximately 170km per week.  This is an incredible achievement in saved carbon emissions compared the average shopping basket which is approximately 23,000km.

Our farmers continue to sequester carbon through their regenerative agriculture methods, and we applaud their care for the soils and worms and stewardship or their waterways and wildlife.

We produced 16.34 MegaWatts of solar power from our rooftop last year, drastically reducing the impact of our cold rooms and kitchens. That’s a saving 12.9 Tonnes of CO2 over the last 12 months!

The Economics

We turned over nearly $2 million in revenue last year, however our profit margins are very low. We are feeling the pinch of increased competition from other mum and dad box systems and ‘convenience’ offerings, and also feeling the pain from making up for previous years’ setbacks. The last two years of cutting back has created new efficiencies, but now we are focusing on improving customer service, as well as looking hard at our business model and getting smarter with our communications and marketing.

We hosted a few onsite markets last year in collaboration with local makers, which was so much fun, we’re working out a way where we can do this a bit more regularly.

What’s in store this year?

  • In March we will shifting to the other side of the Food Connect Shed and building a new packing facility, thanks to the investment from 566 Careholders;
  • We plan on hosting four seasonal farm tours, more cooking classes and fun shindigs;
  • EK will take on the General Manager role, giving Rob full run of the management of the Shed;
  • We’ll be transitioning to a brand new ordering system for retail customers to help us claw back from five years of technological trauma;
  • The Shed will welcome a steady stream of new tenants, with Oz Harvest and Ballistic Beer in the first few months of the year, Regina’s Wellness Centre has settled in nicely and Kylie Newberry’s think tank Our Food System, will make her home in the co-working space from February;
  • Rob and I will move from our office to allow Gaala Watson and her colleagues to set up their First Nations media company and associated businesses; and
  • The commercial kitchen is now home to six small food businesses, with more to come on board. It’s been wonderful watching them grow and form friendships with each other.

As always, your support for a local food system can’t be better expressed than by putting your hard earned dollars where it really counts. The food system is an incredibly complex beast, and we hope that we can continue to make it easier and simpler for you to put your ethics where your mouth is - literally!

All the best for fabulous year ahead,
EK and Rob




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