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Victorian Guide — Reconnecting producers and consumers

Support the Goulburn Valley Food Co-op

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 — News

Girgarre is a small agricultural town in the Goulburn Valley, Northern Victoria. It has what most towns of its size do – a kindergarten, a primary school, a V/Line bus stop and a great farmers’ market. There’s also a good chance it’s where the tomato sauce drizzled on your chips comes from – well, used to, anyway. For 22 years global food giant Heinz operated a food processing plant there. Using produce from local farms, the plant produced tomato-based products and acted as the financial backbone of the region, providing over 140 jobs to the community.

In January of this year Heinz announced it would close the factory as part of a company restructure and that production would be shipped off across the Tasman to New Zealand. The announcement sent tremors through the town which had relied so heavily on its presence. In an effort to save both factory workers and tomato growers, The Goulburn Valley Food Action Committee offered to buy the plant. Heinz, however, viewed the committee as competitors and rejected their two offers, painting a rather dull picture for the future of Girgarre and for domestic food production in general.

Not giving up without a fight, the committee went on to set up the Goulburn Valley Food Cooperative, whose primary aim is to protect Australia’s food security. They’ve found a new site for the Girgarre locals at Kyabram (20kms down the road) and are working towards establishing a new factory that will act as a food hub, turning local ingredients into quality Australian produce. In the process they’ve brought together impressive expertise across the paddock to plate movement and plan to support similar projects nationwide through developing markets for food grown and processed in Australia.

Unfortunately the Girgarre incident was not a one-off, with Golden Circle (a subsidiary of Heinz) and SPC Adona having also downsized heavily in Queensland and Victoria respectively. Such moves leave local growers without buyers and means consumers are favouring imports over local produce. The co-op wants to buck this trend and needs your support to do so. You can do this by jumping on their Facebook page and liking their cause, watching one of their videos on food security here, reading more on the movement by visiting their website or making a donation by clicking here. You can become a lifetime member for just $50 dollars and be sure you’re contributing to a grassroots scheme with Australia’s food security at its heart.

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