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GALLERY: Beanstalk organic keepin’ it real

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After searching his local supermarket shelves for fresh food last month, Matt Edgar says he was shocked to find them sadly lacking.

His initial assumption was that rising transportation costs and regional weather stresses, and therefore availability, were to blame.

Fed up with what he says was becoming a regular occurrence, Matt began to rely more heavily on a Mayfield-based organic co-operative for his produce.

“I was shocked by the empty supermarket shelves,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I buy aussie produce and I thought to myself why can’t I get an aussie eggplant, in Australia, in late summer.” 

According to the Australian Organic Market Report 2021, Matt is likely one of 37% of organic shoppers who increased their household food allocation to organic in the previous 12 months.

In fact the Australian organic industry now contributes more than $2 billion annually to the national economy.

Novocastrians are among the 62% of shoppers who now seek to buy organic produce, and the numbers are rising, up an average of 50% each year.

As Newcastle’s longest-running food co-operative, Beanstalk Organic Co-op directly connects organic farmers and local buyers each Tuesday afternoon at Church Street in Mayfield.

Orders are placed the week prior and bundled up by volunteers using minimal waste or packaging. 

“The food comes from towns and suburbs I know, some I’ve even lived in,” Matt says.

“The veggies are seasonal. The produce is organic, and the people who handle my orders are locals.

“The farmers set their prices for produce, so I know the producers are well-supported and treated fairly.

“It’s a true cooperative, not just a buzzword but a member owned not-for-profit.”

Operating since 2004, Beanstalk Co-op offers staples like potatoes, onions, milk, and meat, to seasonal fruit such as watermelons, apples, citrus, and bananas.

There are also dry goods such as rice, beans, sultanas, and toilet paper available for purchase.

Within its co-operative model, Beanstalk members are encouraged to waste less and eat seasonally.

The not-for-profit group also seeks to source ethically produced, ecologically sound food while promoting a sense of community.

“It’s a member-driven response to the big red, green, and blue shops who charge a premium for food then ask for a donation ‘for the farmers’,” Matt says.

“After the whirlwind we’ve all been through in recent years, I’m glad to know my food doesn’t have to travel too far, and my dollars are supporting my community.” 

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