Organic food idea grows…and grows
A simple Facebook post a month ago took Dominique Quirke from a small, shared exchange of organic fruit and vegetables among friends and playgroup mums to a fully-fledged small business.
Dom, her husband Steve who is a banker, and their children, moved from the Otways to Port Fairy three years ago and to their surprise there was nowhere to buy organic produce.
“I didn’t want any food with pesticides or herbicides in my kids’ diet,” Dom said.
Port Fairy Organics began with 16 friends, playgroup and kinder mums committing to buy a weekly organic fruit and vegetable box.
A few posts on Facebook, and by week two, Port Fairy Organics had 47 customers (and 70 by week four) and needed to call in helpers. Charlotte Dumesny, Roz Langley and Rachel Tolliday came to the rescue, helping to pack the boxes and deliver to various drop-off locations in Port Fairy and Warrnambool.
“I didn’t anticipate the rush of customers,” says Dom, keeping a close eye on her four energetic young children in the playground.
The majority of the organic fruit and vegies are sourced from Victorian producers, but some also come from Western Australia or Queensland.
“What’s in the boxes depends on what’s in season. I am very aware of the food kilometres, but sometimes to get good organic food, I do have to source from interstate,” Dom said.
Aside from the seasons, the weather, too, can affect what’s in the box. A hail storm recently wiped out one fruit order, so Dom found replacements.
Last week, for example, she included a bunch of immature flowering buds of garlic and had a lot of calls about what to do with it.
“It’s a food that you only get for a few weeks in Spring,” says Dom, so she included it because it was seasonal and it stretches people’s knowledge about food.
Two weeks ago she added eggs to her range after finding that a lot of people she knew had backyard chooks, and excess eggs. So Dom collected them all and offered them to customers.
Organic food generally doesn’t last as long as supermarket produce, but for Dom and her loyal band of helpers – and customers – it is a small price to pay for food that hasn’t been stored in warehouses for weeks, or been waxed to ensure longevity.
“The food I offer is basically harvested yesterday,” she said.
People often say organic produce tastes better, but for Dom it is more about supporting growers who believe in sustainable organic farming – which sends a message to corporations and governments – and wanting to put the best food into the bodies of her young family.
“It is important to realise where food comes from. The food dollar is so strong: it tells corporations and governments what we want.”
Dom is a self-confessed “hippy from way back”, and has been eating organic food for 20 years, and it is via that history that she got to know a lot of local organic producers.
“We should be eating as the seasons and the weather dictates, and it’s important for kids to realise food comes from the earth. It makes then more enthusiastic about food and that is always a good thing, especially with vegies!”
Dom has plans to expand into an online wholefoods shop where people can buy Australian organic nuts, seeds, peanut butter, rice, butter, and even essential oils.
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