The latest news from the Ballarat Food Network

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Fair Food Week 16th October - 25th October 2015 is a self organising national event established in 2013 to provide communities to showcase how farmers, gardeners, chefs and community based food enterprises are working hard to ensure access to fresh, local and affordable produce to all Australians.

ballaratfood pigletEthically raised pig from Tarna Valley

Ballarat Food is a network of of individuals in our community who are committed to supporting food in our region, we appreciate the quality of life in our area and want to work towards a healthy and sustainable future for the Ballarat region. We became involved with the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance early this year and were honoured to have Dr Nick Rose and Tammi Jonas attend our local produce dinner and help us launch Ballarat’s first screening of the documentary Fair Food.

nick rose fair foodDr Nick Rose from The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance

The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance is a collaboration of organisations and individuals working together towards a food system in which people have the opportunity to choose, create and manage their food supply from paddock to plate. Their purpose is to is to cooperate, to create an equitable, sustainable and resilient food system for all Australians.

We were so excited to learn from such a switched on and organized group of people, who were already looking at the implications our current method of producing and consuming food were having on the health and well being of us and our planet. The Australian Sovereignty Alliance are actively setting out to remake Australia’s food system secure, fair and of benefit to us all.

Spending time with the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance helped me to understand more about the problems pertaining to our our current food system and delving into the topic of world food security I felt overwhelmed at the scale of such a task as the remaking of our food system. How I could make a contribution to such an undertaking? I have physical and economic access to all the food I need and want, but many people do not.

It seems pretty clear that we’re all waiting for someone else to take charge in order to come up with a solution, after all how can one person effect meaningful change? I often think about the things I can do to help remake our food system, and I’ve decided it starts in really little ways, so small and insignificant that unless you continue to make additional changes they may not be substantial enough to hold your attention or interest in the goal of achieving improved food security.

We need to keep asking the questions, what is threatening our food security and why? I am fortunate to be able to talk about the security and fairness of our food system with everyone involved with Ballarat Food. We have more questions than we have answers, and we have so much to learn, but we all offer our unique perspective on the subject and we know that if we continue to support each other and challenge the processes that are unfair or unsustainable, we can at least start to make a difference to our local food system.

I believe that’s how the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance affect change. They take the time to visit a lot of communities across Australia, they spent the weekend with us, the Ballarat Food group. They meet with a lot of other community groups, they spend time with individuals; farmers, gardeners, chefs, producers, small business owners and they meet with governments. They share their knowledge with us and we are inspired by their commitment to work towards change, small incremental steps.

ballaratfood springcreek organicsSpring Creek Organics

Here’s a list of the little things I do that I believe are steps towards a secure food system to benefit myself and my community.

  • I try to source local seasonal produce and whole foods as often as I can, it’s healthier for me and supports the local economy.
  • I try to buy food from the people who have grown or produced it themselves.
  • I try to cook from scratch, it tastes better and it saves money.
  • I focus on a vegetable rich diet and when I do eat meat, try and source ethically raised meats.
  • I buy food in smaller quantities to minimise waste.
  • I usually walk to buy my food, it’s good exercise, and ensures I only buy what I need.
  • I grow most of my own herbs, it’s easy to do and makes a lot of the dishes I prepare taste wonderful.
  • I eat at local restaurants and cafes who support our local quality producers.
  • I spread the word about all the great produce I find in our region to family and friends and others via
  • I love to talk about what’s in season, and what recipes and cooking techniques others have for seasonal ingredients.
  • I have google alerts on Food Security and other related topics to help me learn more about this important global issue.
  • I help support the Jiggety-Jig Farmers Market to encourage others to experience the abundance of wonderful quality produce and food being made in our community and to help support our local producers.

There’s so much more I could do, it’s a start. I’d love to grow more of my own food and implement more sustainable energy and water systems in my home, I’d love to make a bigger impact. If only one person reads this blog article and finds out about the Jiggety-Jig I’ll be happy. I will be at Jiggety- Jig again this Saturday (3rd Saturday of every month). We have a growing number of locals who come along every month and they are buying fresh food and they love it, and we know that as the word spreads more people will see the benefits of supporting local fair food, for themselves and the community.

ballaratfood jiggetyJiggety-Jig Farmers Market at the Ballarat Showgrounds

There’s lots of events going on across Australia. Checkout the Fair Food Week Website to see what other communities are doing for Fair Food Week and in the spirit of keeping the fair food conversation alive, what are some of the little things you do in the spirit of fair food?

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ballaratfood marcus downes



NAME Marcus Downes

PHONE 0438 233 375





The love for coffee and all things coffee came from Marcus’ experiences of travelling through the rural regions and cities of Europe. Marcus is the roaster and proprietor of Charisma Coffee.

It was not long after arriving in Italy that he was inspired and invigorated by the Italian cafe scene.
It also became apparent to him that coffee growing and roasting was akin to that of the wine industry. The two industries shared critical analysis of what was desirable, both were at the mercy of agricultural factors, they pursued sound techniques and excellence and contained an artisan approach.


ARABICA BEANS: Charisma Coffee source and roast Arabica beans, they are grown at high altitudes and boast far superior flavours to Robusta beans which are widely used for the production of instant coffee.

Arabica coffee beans naturally grow more slowly than their Robusta counterparts and take on more characteristics of the regions in which they are grown. Charisma Coffee offers you a wide variety of single origin and organic coffee.

coffee beans

SINGLE ORIGIN & ORGANIC: Single origin coffee beans originate from one place, a plantation, an estate or pooled and graded from a single country.

Charisma Coffee offers a broad selection of beans available as both single origin or as blends to suit your needs. Each bean has subtle differences of palate, character - charisma - and intensity and the range offered will cater to every taste.

Chemical-intensive cropping may yield higher production but not flavour. Your purchase of organic coffee ensures that farmers are not exposed to harmful chemicals, traditional farming methods (rusticano or policultura traditional) are continued and that natural habitats are better preserved. All organic coffee varieties can be purchased upon request in 100% compostable bags.

Charisma Coffee have been selling coffee beans whole or ground by the bag for a while now. Did you know Charisma Coffee is now available in Nespresso-compatible capsules? These are supplied as a kit; perfectly ground, fresh roasted coffee with the plastic capsule and a self-adhesive foil cover. A kit comes with 50/100 capsules and 250g/500g of coffee respectively. Now you can enjoy Charisma Coffee using your existing Nespresso machine.


Charisma Coffee's Timor Leste Maubisse, a medium to strong coffee, a great all-rounder. It is a full-bodied drink and has a sweet, thick feel to the mouth. This is a triple award winner having gained a Silver Medal in the 2014 Compak Golden Bean Competition, and two Bronze Medals at the 2012 Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards and the 2012-2013 Golden Bean Roaster Competition.



Charisma coffee website welcomes wholesale and retail orders. The good news for Ballarat locals is that you can buy Charisma Coffee by the bag at lots of locations in the region; Ballarat Wholefoods Collective, Maxi Foods, Wilsons Fruit & Vegetables, Peaches Fruit Market, Bean Me Up Mobile Espresso, Merkama Cafe, Ballarat Home Brew Centre, Ruth Howlett Collectibles, Highland Heritage.

charisma team

You will often see Marcus and his Charisma team at Jiggety-Jig Farmers Market and quality local produce markets in the region. Marcus is also a popular fixture at Taste Ballarat, Rural Lifestyle Expo. As a master roaster in the region, Marcus has created quite a local following for his specially roasted beans, he also loves to talk about all things coffee.

You can also taste the Charisma brews at the following locations; Charisma coffee vans around Melbourne, Avoca Hotel, Maxi Foods Cafe, Merkama Cafe, Bean Me Up Mobile Espresso, Prospects Restaurant Federation University Australia, Belinda Murden mobile espresso, Steptoe and Sister Antiques Smythesdale.

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SS Traders, an Asian grocery store, opened for business at the start of 2015. I had noticed the doorway located in the lane next to Curry Star Restaurant in Dana Street, and assumed it was a small shop offering a few specialty ingredients, boy was I in for a surprise.

Inside the doorway in the laneway is a large specialty supermarket with aisles of assorted Asian grocery items, thousands of food products, many I have not seen before. SS traders is open seven days a week. They have a extensive range of specialty groceries you will not find in regular supermarkets or anywhere else in Ballarat.

ballaratfood sstraders

Open seven days a week 11am - 9pm, SS Traders are supplying fresh produce and grocery items to specialty restaurants around the region. If you are looking for a wide range of rice, flours, exotic spices or pretty much any ingredient required for Indian cuisine, you will find it at SS Traders. Every Thursday SS Traders offers fresh vegetables and produce directly from Melbourne markets including; fresh ginger, chilli, baby eggplants, gourds, drumstick, coriander and plantains. Also depending on availability they bring fresh fish from the markets, perfect for a fish curry. You can also phone ahead to order fresh goat meat, another curry specialty ingredient.

For orders or enquiries contact Venkatesh on 03 5331 1414.

ballaratfood sstraders freshproduce 2

ballaratfood eggplants

ballaratfood gourds

ballaratfood sardines

The staff at SS Traders are very helpful and happy to share ideas on how you can incorporate many of the unusual ingredients and fresh produce into your home cooking. After visiting last week I walked away with drumstick (a long green vegetable I incorporated into a vindaloo), along with some fresh chillies, coriander and the best papadums I have ever cooked. 

Many customers of SS Traders are chefs in the region. SS Traders are offering a range of products many businesses previously had to go to Melbourne to source and now food enthusiasts interested in experimenting in the kitchen can also obtain specialty ingredients. I highly recommend you visit on a Thursday to sample some of the fresh produce available on the day, such healthy and interesting food intiatives happening in our town deserve our support. 

ballaratfood mangoes

ballaratfood plantain

Recent Comments
Jodie Kaine
Hi Katherine, I do not think SS Traders stock much in the way of Japanese spices, but I am confident you might find what you're af... Read More
Thursday, 25 February 2016 21:09
Jodie Kaine
Hi Emma, They definitely stock a wide range of Indian branded candy. I am not sure they stock Japanese candy though. Thanks for st... Read More
Thursday, 21 January 2016 14:35
Jodie Kaine
Thanks Belinda. We had been meaning to pop in there for a while now and were so impressed that fantastic places like this are happ... Read More
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 08:38
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In the Australian culinary realm there is no greater achievement than to be awarded hats! Chef hats in all their puffy pleated white glory. This year marks the 36th edition of the Age Good Food awards and tonight for the third time in the history of Ballarat a couple of our favourite locals have been invited to attend at the Plaza Ballroom.

In our not so glamorous food history we have only been awarded a total of two hatted venues. The incredible La Scala in the late 70s and 80s, Alabi's in the 90s. Tonight I am incredibly excited to announce that Danielle and Damian Jones owners and chefs of Main Road's Cat Fish Thai have been awarded their first chef hat and Ballarat's third!

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Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of getting to know Ballarat’s finest artisan producer, Giorgio Basilio . Every Friday Giorgio goes into lockdown and works from 9am til 5pm to bring us truly fresh authentic sourdough bread. I have been popping in to help individually weigh each loaf and learn a tiny aspect of this historical craft.
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