AFSA Annual Convergence at the SAGE Garden, and thoughts on the referendum

Eliza Cannon from Borrowed Ground and representing both the SAGE executive committee and the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance committee, has shared a beautiful story about  Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance‘s annual convergence held at the SAGE Garden a few weeks ago, and some words on the recent referendum.  


Words on Referendum

Firstly, we would like to acknowledge and pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians of the land, pay our respects to elders past and present and pay our respects to all Indigenous people of this land that work hard day in, day out to uphold culture and carry on their ancient traditions. 


As an organisation, we strive to work side by side with the local Brinja-Yuin and Walbunja people by aiming to consult with and invite them to the table when it comes to the workings of SAGE.

Food in this special region is woven with ancient stories and we must acknowledge and learn from these stories when we look at securing our food system in the Eurobodalla, whilst also respecting the rightful custodianship and protection of these stories that are so deeply entrenched in the lands and waterways that pulse through country. It has been quite a devastating couple of months on home soils and across oceans.

The unanimous rejection of a proposed Indigenous Voice to parliament has meant that we as a nation have taken a gigantic step back in the direction toward recognition of the true Custodians of this magical place we call home. We have wanted to give time and respect to the mourning period that followed this result, whilst also embarking on some deep self reflection about what our next moves can look like in terms of solidarity. This brutal eye opener, means now we must work harder toward justice for First Nations Peoples in this country. Harder than we have ever worked before.

Unity is the only way forward and we vow to work toward this unity by getting uncomfortable with our own privileges, listening, learning and standing up for the justice that is deserved. 

ASFA Annual Convergence

On the weekend of the 21st of October, SAGE hosted a marathon few days of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance‘s annual convergence. The weekend kicked off with the launch of their newest book, ‘Eating Democracy: The True Cost of the Food we Eat’. People devoured woodfired pizzas topped with local produce and drank Bodalla’s Malt Man beer in the sunshine.

We then all gathered in the shed and were welcomed by Uncle Bunja Smith, who as always, beautifully and generously welcomed the community to the lands and waterways in which we all work, live and play.

The one and only Costa Georgiadis then facilitated a beautiful and honest conversation between six of the authors of the book. The audience were weaved through the captivating tapestry of their food stories and what has impacted their choices and habits throughout their lives based on their cultures and where they find themselves. The conversation traversed some deep terrain but the women bared their bones in a really warm and welcoming way. These insights are only a snapshot of a few eaters across the country. Eaters who have lived through the pandemic, fires and floods and who have had to adapt and pivot because of these great challenges we have faced in modern times.

The book is a small collection of important stories to help us see different perspectives and potentially consider new ones for our own food journeys. They will be available at Moruya Books soon. 


Day 1 and 2 of the Food Sovereignty Convergence then followed. 60 odd farmers, activists, eaters, home gardeners, community members and food allies from afar gathered to collectively discuss the current issues we’re facing in our food system and strategise the work ahead to address these challenges. We were smoked on Country by Jordan Nye from Muladha Gamara who created an open and deep space for us all to enter and help channel some powerful brain power. He sang a healing song and we all clapped to the beat, which felt timely and hopeful given the Referendum was just a week before.

The next two days were then filled with democratically organised un-conferencing sessions to discuss issues like movement building, land collectives and tenure and Agroecology knowledge building. A huge list of 25 actions came from these lightning sessions and discussions and we vowed to commit to all but one. We all discussed the People’s Food Plan which is up for public consultation before being published as well as wrapping things up with the AFSA AGM.

It was an extremely productive couple of days that was fuelled by caffeine master The Nourished Sovereign and SAGE’s delicious catering which showcased local producers and the epic bounty of food that is produced in the region.

Borrowed Ground hosted a potluck on the evening between Day 1 and Day 2 of convergence where everyone bought a plate of delights and shared a few beverages with our minds full of ideas, new connections forged and old ones strengthened.  

The team from Muladha Gamara returned to smoke us all out after a big couple of days of mind work and collaboration. We all performed the birribanj (emu) dance together to close the convergence and left feeling exhausted, inspired and satisfied. 

There’s new energy on the AFSA committee and a big, fat list of priorities for the year to come that will affect local and national food systems. I couldn’t be prouder about how successful the weekend was and that it all took place in my home town. Thank you to everyone for your help and involvement. You know who you are! 

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Best Beetroot Recipes

SAGE Education and Events Coordinator Sandra Makdessi uses beetroot whenever it’s available locally and has kindly shared her favorite sweet and savory recipes.  

  1. Beetroot stems salsa
  2. Quick Indian beetroot salad
  3. Beetroot, rhubarb and potato gratin
  4. Preserved Beetroot
  5. Beetroot salad with walnuts and cumin
  6. Lentils and Beets with Salsa Verde
  7. Beetroot and rhubarb salad (V)
  8. Chocolate and beetroot brownies
  9. Beet and Ginger Cake with Cream