Like tens of thousands of small- and medium-scale dairy farmers, Robert Pekin was a casualty of
the de-regulation of the Australian dairy industry that took place during the 1990s. In what was a
deeply traumatic period for himself and his family, Robert, like so many other dairy farmers, lost
the farm that had been in his family for generations.
Robert’s path to redemption and healing led him to the discovery and practice of community-
supported agriculture (CSA). First practiced in Japan, Germany and the UK in the 1960s and then
blossoming in the USA and beyond in the 1990s, CSA is a model of direct, food-based exchange
between farmers and members of a nearby town or city, who become stakeholders in the farm
enterprise, sharing its risks and its bounty. In weaving multi-layered connections between farmers
and stakeholders, the CSA model creates intimate and personal relationships around food and
farming. These relationships are the building blocks of a food-centred economy.
Food Connect Brisbane (FCB) was established by Robert in 2005 as a multi-farmer CSA with this
vision and its principles, firmly at its core. Over the succeeding years FCB has grown and thrived,
showing itself to be resilient in the face of considerable challenges.