Tammi Jonas – The importance of connectivity for a healthy and resilient food system and community
Former vegetarian academic Tammi Jonas is resident meatsmith at Jonai Farms, where she and her family of ethicurean farmers raise pastured rare-breed Large Black pigs and cattle on 69 acres of volcanic paddocks in the central highlands of Victoria, Australia.
After being the first farm in Australia to crowdfund major infrastructure in 2013 to build a licensed butcher’s shop on the farm, the Jonai succeeded again in 2014 and built a licensed curing room and commercial kitchen to make farmstead cured meats and a range of charcuterie, as well as bone stocks and lard-based soap, to ultimately deliver a full nose to tail no-waste offering.
‘Waste’ from the boning room is transformed into bonechar and used in the farm’s garden beds, which produced their first commercial garlic crop in 2017. The Jonai achieved their goal of full reliance on their paddocks and so-called ‘waste stream’ feed – spent brewers’ grain from a nearby brewery, distillery mash from Melbourne, and surplus, damaged, or unwanted produce from other food and agriculture systems in Victoria (such as rice, eggs, milk, cheese, and other rich sources of nutrient for the pigs). This has freed them from any further reliance on purpose-grown grain for their animals, reducing feed costs and creating a net ecological benefit by diverting many tonnes of organic waste from landfill and exiting the agro-industrial model of segregating feed production from livestock farming.
Jonai Farms is engaged in the solidarity economy of community-supported agriculture (CSA), feeding 80 member households each month. The model helps them share the risk of farming with their community of eaters, reduces the burden of admin and logistics, and eliminates the need to sell their products – they have a 15-year waiting list for Melbourne. The CSA engages their community directly with the farm and teaches people how and why animals can and should be raised outdoors on pasture, and they too become advocates for ethical and agroecological farming.
Tammi and Stuart run regular butchery, sausage-making and curing workshops – including their celebratory salami days each winter – to maintain and share the traditional skills of respecting the whole animal. They also run popular Grow Your Ethics producers’ workshops to teach everything about their agroecological no-growth model.
Tammi is President of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA), and the Chair of the AFSA Legal Defence Fund, which works to support small-scale farmers dealing with scale-inappropriate regulation and planning, while also promoting everyone’s right to access nutritious and culturally-appropriate food grown in ethical and ecologically-sound ways, and our right to democratically determine our own food systems.
Tammi has been writing about food culture, politics, and ethics since 2006 on Tammi Jonas: Food Ethics, and has been widely published in both academic and popular texts, including a chapter detailing her journey from mindless industrial eater to vegetarian to ethical omnivore and mindful meatsmith in the anthology Fair Food: stories of a movement changing the world published by UQP in 2015.
jonaifarms.com.au & tammijonas.com