Open Food Network: Building a Better Food System
Serenity Hill loves that Open Food Network is designed to support self-organisation, that people can find other enterprises to work with, and find under-utilised infrastructure to activate new supply networks. She’s excited that OFN can support models that we haven’t even thought of yet. She’s blown away by the way the world is catching on to Open Food Network. If she wasn’t working on Open Food Network, Serenity would be working on other systemic improvements to the food system, around governance, ownership and investment.Serenity’s from a farming family in Warrenbayne in NE Victoria (beef and wool) and was brought up with a strong sense of social and economic justice. She believes in the need for systems that care for the land and people that depend on it. Serenity first worked in government and then academia seeking ways to make a difference. She has extensive experience in policy development in the Victorian State Government, particularly natural resource management and climate change adaptation. Her PHD research studies explored what motivates farmers, and the significant increasing challenges most face in context of climate, input costs and the market dynamics stacked against them. This early experience solidified a belief in regenerative agriculture, which builds soil, is resilient to shocks, and supports happy farmers staying on the land. Serenity believes regenerative agriculture can only become the norm if supported by fair markets and supply networks, in which the basic economics support farmers to manage the land within its capacity. The Open Food Network was always about the long game, supporting a movement of people seeking alternative distribution models that can scale beyond a niche.
Kirsten Larsen has been investigating the ins and outs of all things food for around 8 years. From a background in state government sustainability, climate and food policy, Kirsten turned to systemic analysis of food security and sustainability and has been involved in development and implementation of Food Policies at state and local government levels. With the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab at the University of Melbourne, she has focused on analysing and communicating the technical and social innovations that change what is possible – and bring healthy communities and ecosystems closer. In 2011, Kirsten’s attention turned to food distribution and opening new market access channels for farmers. With partner Serenity Hill, Kirsten founded Eaterprises Australia, a social enterprise focused on transforming the way food is distributed and exchanged. Eaterprises Australia has instigated the South East Food Hub, the Australian Food Hubs Network, the Open Food Foundation and the Open Food Network.
From the moment Rob first heard Kirsten speak about the Open Food Network in mid-2012, he knew he wanted to be a part of it. The project perfectly combines his love of systems thinking and the challenge of solving complex problems with his passion for food, and for disruptive change in the power relations that define food systems. Rob’s role is primarily in software development, piecing together the building blocks that make up the Open Food Network. He also enjoys hypothesising about all of the things that the OFN will be able to do ‘one-day’ in the future. When he is not working he loves cooking for friends, tinkering with bikes and gardening with his mum.
Rohan is a software engineer and lead developer of OFN. Spending around three days a week on the project, he is drawn to working with a team that’s changing the world for the better, and enjoys the challenge of coordinating work from developers in a growing list of countries, and developing team work practices to keep the development running smoothly. When not working on OFN, can be found making interactive art for the next music festival.
Danielle’s an all-rounder in the team, coming in for a few hours each week and filling gaps wherever she’s needed. Helping define the product roadmap, improving the way information is managed, getting the low down on all things analytics, coordinating tweaks to designs, writing some content, reviewing the tough bits in user guides, or bringing in baked goods for morning tea, these are a few of the favourite things she does for the team. She brings to the team a range of skills and experience in digital program and product management and user experience. Alongside of this she has a postgrad degree in urban design, placemaking, and environmental sustainability, and is an enthusiast of permaculture design and urban farming. She’s inspired by the vision of the Open Food Network and is proud to offer her time and brain capacity to something that matters so much.
Maikel is a software developer with a science background. He has a passion for free software and believes in the not-for-profit model. The Open Food Network is his opportunity to contribute to a good cause and enhance his skills, especially in Ruby on Rails and AngularJS. In the past Maikel studied computer science and physics. And after spending a year on research projects about interactive robots and trying to make them more intelligent, he prefers to work closer to people’s actual needs. He found a great team and loves learning from every single problem solved.
Sally can be found in at the OFN 2 days a week, answering user enquiries and translating all of the OFN’s features into layman’s terms. Sally has a background in agricultural science, but has traded in her lab coat and now studies business. She’s excited to see how the OFN is using trade to improve our food system. When not at the OFN she likes to don her pack and boots and head out for a bushwalk in Victoria’s natural places.
Bing was a welcome site at the OFN in Melbourne, when he offered to volunteer his advanced developer skills. He was quickly put to good use and has been a superstar contributor in the team! When he’s not tapping away on the computer he’s enjoying seeing the world through the eyes of his young son, through travel and exploring new things!
Myriam discovered OFN when working on a buying group project early 2014, and she fell in love. Involved as a Connector in OuiShare, she is passionate about the collaborative economy and being also a foodie, so Open Food Network was the perfect match! With a background in project management and business administration, and an entrepreneurial spirit, she co-founded with Cynthia Reynolds the OFN chapter in Norway, a non-profit called Altifrem, and she is now bringing it to France, her home country. She is also contributing to the global community building and providing support to people who want to deploy OFN where they live. Apart from OFN, Myriam loves hunting mushrooms and wild berries in the forest, and organizing exciting events about complementary currencies, collaborative governance, the maker movement, or other exciting topics
Anselm loves everything about food! That’s the most important thing to say about him. He is also an activist, entrepreneur and an independent consultant in the fields of food systems and ecosocial design. His mission is to contribute to a global transition towards a society of resilient communities that actually have a positive impact on the planet. He believes that Open Food Network can make a considerable contribution towards this by decentralising the food system and giving the power back to its main actors: those who grow and eat the food! He is currently a volunteer community organiser on a global and European level.
Born in Germany in 1983, then having lived for over five years each in the UK and the Middle East, he is currently based in rural France.
Creating projects that build Food Sovereignty is Lynne’s passion and purpose. She explores this in a wide variety of ways: occupying land to create discussion about land rights; working with her local council to create community goat micro dairies; fermenting local vegetables; involvement in national and international campaigning groups for agroecological farming. Lynne started Dean Forest Food Hub in 2013 to try and create an alternative food system in the Forest of Dean, giving small producers and easy route to local market and consumers access to affordable, good quality local food. Lynne is very excited to be working with other UK food hubs to roll out OFN UK in 2016!
I helped set up Stroud Community Agriculture in 2001 and Stroudco Food Hub in 2006. By 2012 we knew that the Stroudco software needed replacing and we were very excited to find that Serenity and Kirsten had taken the food hub concept to a whole new level with the Open Food Network. Working with three other food hubs in the UK we set up OFN UK as a Community Interest Company and are very pleased to be piloting the Open Food Network here. We’re hoping to raise funds for a UK roll out of OFN during 2016. You can find out more about me at www.nickweir.co.uk
I work for Tamar Grow Local which is an umbrella organisation for a wide range of community and food growing projects. I helped to set up Tamar Valley Food Hubs in 2013 using the Stroudco software which we want to replace with the Open Food Network system as soon as we can. I have been working with three other food hubs in the UK and helped to set up OFN UK as a Community Interest Company in 2015. I’m really pleased to be piloting the Open Food Network and playing a small part in helping to change the way we buy and sell food worldwide!
Paul is an experienced software developer contributing to OFN UK and building his Rails and deployment skills. He has a passion for open source and founded Folk Labs to combine his development work with practical experience of permaculture, community building and the Transition movement to help create better digital tools for local communities.
“In direct dialog with both local producers and consumers, it became clear to me that farmers are in need of both better tools as well alternative distribution channels, and that for the average family, sourcing responsibly produced food had become a luxury that most had to forego due to either time, money or lack of resources. Dedicated to helping farmers earn more for their work and enabling the public access to quality local food, lead to this amazing adventure working with Open Food Network.” While working with local communities throughout the Nordics, she also speaks at events around the Sharing Economy with a focus on the importance of collaborative ownership of the digital infrastructure that can support local value creation, and is founder of locals.global a registered partnership with the United Nations supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. She is also helping facilitate the American instance of the Open Food Network.
Two things brought Theresa to OFN. First, she runs an organic farm called Garden Party. As a small scale producer she was getting frustrated by the amount of time she spent on the phone with the food hubs and stores that distributed her products. She spent too much time to managing inventories and logistics. She’d rather be growing things. Second, she is a researcher studying sustainable food systems. While doing research for her doctorate in China, she was amazed by how technology platforms were being used there to connect CSAs, ecological farms, buying clubs, markets and food hubs. So when she stumbled upon OFN, she immediately saw how it could be helpful to anyone trying to build new food relationships and systems. Now she works at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. With their support she is launching the Canadian instance of Open Food Network and helping food networks in Canada discover the benefits this open source technology offers
Greg’s an executive mentor, working with CEOs, CFOs and senior executives in government, mining, industrial, finance, media, accounting and retail sectors for over 9 years. Greg spent the majority of his career with BP, with his last role Chairman and Managing Director of BP New Zealand. As Chief Executive of CPA Australia until 2005, Greg was an accounting industry leader and spokesperson in relation to International Accounting Standards (IFRS). He was a member of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) Corporate Governance Council, a member the Board of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and an alternate director to the Australian Financial Reporting Council (FRC). Greg’s career has allowed him to benefit from business relationships and cultural diversity within most of the significant world economies. His career reflects deep experience in accounting, IT, organisation design, strategy and business planning and, people development functions. Greg’s business experience is supplemented by structured business training at INSEAD (France) and IMD (Switzerland). He is a Fellow of CPA Australia. He is currently a member of the audit committee of VicRoads and is one of the five principals of The Adelante Group, a senior executive Mentoring Group, where he offers a pragmatic and “battle-tested” approach to his client interactions and provides insightful challenge to, and support for, client issues. He and Colleen, his wife, enjoy their 4 children, travel, AFL, rugby union, boating and especially golf.
Robert Pekin is a former Dairy farmer and market gardener. He is founder of Brisbane-based Food Connect – a unique Social Business that provides local marketing & distribution solutions for Ecological Family Farmers. He has co-initiated activities to mobilise the fair food and agriculture movement through research and consultancy Enterprise ‘Think Food’, and national advocacy organisation the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA). Robert has been a core driver of the Open Food Network project and Foundation, through his firm commitment to making the software developed by Food Connect open source and available to others. For more of the story, check out his full profile at the Food Connect Foundation website.
Joel Cranshaw acts as general counsel to a select number of growth companies, funded startups and subsidiaries of multinationals in the IT and other technology industries. He also works with social enterprises and is an advocate of collaborative workspaces and pursuing the triple bottom line in corporate governance. In addition to his law degree, Joel has a degree in political studies and diploma in information security. Joel has previously worked as a fraud investigator for a leading international accounting practice and as a lawyer and information security advisor for a leading Japanese Investment Bank. He currently sits on the board of a number of commercial and not-for-profit organisations.
Alison Kelly has over 13 years experience in delivering successful national agricultural research, development and extension programs and is currently the Principal of Alison Kelly Consulting, a national strategic sustainability consultancy with a passion and commitment for enhancing the resilience of Australian landscapes, communities and agricultural sector. Alison is also inaugural member for the Environmental Protection Authority’s Environmental Citizens Reference Group; advisor for green infrastructure company, Do It On the Roof, focused on establishing public green roofs in Melbourne; and Alumni of the Centre for Sustainable Leadership. She is passionate about bringing urban and rural communities closer together and believes OFN is in a unique position to catalyse activity in this space.
Darren Sharp is a sharing economy strategist and has led community engagement programs for a range of public, private and community sector clients. He is founder and Managing Director of Social Surplus where he works with clients on the development of strategy, workshops, research and community capacity building using strength-based approaches including asset mapping and co-design. Darren is the Australian editor of Shareable.net, Melbourne coordinator of the Sharing Cities Network and a global curator for CollaborativeConsumption.com where he covers developments in p2p systems, the commons, social innovation and sharing cities. He is also a doctoral student and project officer for Livewell Yarra, a community-based carbon reduction program funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living in partnership with the City of Yarra.
Dianne McGrath is the Director of the sustainability and business consultancy, Food for Thought Consulting Australia, and is an experienced public speaker. Dianne has vast experience in project and risk management, marketing and government organisations in her time with the Australian Energy Regulator, Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and GlaxoSmithKline.
A Higher Degree by Research Master of Engineering (Environmental Engineering) student at RMIT University, Dianne has completed multiple university degrees with a recent focus on environmental engineering, environmental management and sustainable food systems. Dianne’s current research project, Watch My Waste, examines food waste in the Australian hospitality sector. Watch My Waste is recruiting Australian foodservice businesses throughout 2015. Dianne is passionate about equitable and sustainable food systems, and is a Director on the boards of three not-for-profit organisations that operate in the food sustainability/community food space: Open Food Network, Cultivating Community, and 3000acres. She has been on the Board of the Open Food Network since October 2014.