About the Co-op


Our vision to connect our community through food.

Our goals are to:

  • support community by promoting dry bulk food
  • nurture community through shared food activities and events
  • sustain community by supporting local growers and food systems.


Co-operatives belong to, are operated by, and benefit the people who become members. Because the most important aspect of co-operatives is people, they also enhance the communities they operate in. They are formed by people with like-minded needs and aspirations which can be fulfilled by working together and taking responsibility to support the vision set by the members. The democratic nature of a co-op means that all members are equal decision-makers.

Co-ops worldwide adhere to 7 key principles:

  • Voluntary and Open Membership
  • Democratic Member Control
  • Member Economic Participation
  • Autonomy and Independence
  • Education, Training and Information
  • Cooperation Among Cooperatives
  • Concern for Community


The Beechworth Food Co-op is a registered non distributing co-operative without share capital, this means any profits can not be distributed to co-op members and that the Co-Op is equally owned by all Co-Op members. Any profits the Co-Op does make can only be used to improve the ability of the Co-Op to deliver on its aim to service its members. A copy of our endorsed rules of association can be viewed here.


President - Fiona Wigg

Secretary - Lisa Morrison

Treasurer - Sally Kaitler

Volunteer Coordinator - Pammy Walpole

Events - Tristyarna Sheridan

Assets - Dirk de Zwart

2022 AGM President's Report

6 October 2022

Welcome to the Beechworth Food Co op (BFC) Annual General Meeting. This report will cover the significant events and decisions of the past 12 months and outline the future direction of the BFC.

Strategic direction
At the last AGM, the Beechworth Food Co op was in the middle of a major restructure.  The Hub had closed, we were in the process of moving out of the Old Railway Building and three of the four remaining Board members had resigned.  There was confusion about the future direction of the Co op, and a lot work required to close down the retail part of the Co op from a physical infrastructure and financial perspective.
A new board comprising 6 members was elected at the 2021 AGM and the move from the Old Railway Building completed by the end of October.   Remaining assets were stored locally and progressively sold over the past 12 months mainly to other local food businesses.  An audit of our financial position was conducted, details of which will be outlined in the financial report.  Discussion with Quercus about a partnership was shelved whilst both organisations took stock of their direction however we continue to use the Quercus Hall for events and have regular engagement with their board and garden supervisor.  The decision to not pursue an online shop was made after reviewing the opportunities for purchasing local food online offered by the Open Food Network and Open Road project.  In addition, new organic/bulk food shops had opened in neighbouring towns offering locals more choice in purchasing products.
A strategic planning session with the new Board was conducted in February this year to review past work and determine relevant elements to move forward with.  The Board agreed that our vision: ‘Connecting our community through food’ still held particularly with a renewed focus on education, advocacy and information.  Initially we held events adhering to that vision in an unconnected way but our thinking has now coalesced into a cohesive program of events commencing later this year which will give people the skills to produce their own food, and the knowledge to understand the impact of their food choices.

The annual food production skills program sees us partnering with local producers for 4 events each year which will upskill members fruit and veggie production then turn the abundance into preserved food for the less productive times in our gardens.  We’ll also be offering guest speakers, films and panel discussions on food production systems to generate a conversation about the influence we have as eaters on how, where and why food is produced.
We believe that in this time of uncertainty over future climate, the pandemic and cost of living pressures, giving members the ability to produce healthy, nutritious food from their gardens whilst supporting local producers is the right future direction for BFC.

Major events
Amidst all the activity with closing the shop and moving we did manage to hold three large events.  The first was Patch to Patch held in April which saw six gardens open to the public including three gardens which were new to Patch.  Around seventy people cycled, walked or drove to talk with garden owners and come away with inspiration for their own patch.  The money raised from the day has been spent on event advertising banners allowing us to advertise the event under our own banner.
On a bitterly cold and wet morning in June we invited three local producers to speak about growing winter vegetables.  More than fifty people turned up to hear them and were warmed by Thai pumpkin soup as the discussion continued for over two hours.
Our last event focused on preserving where sweet preserves were paired with scones and cream whilst the savoury preserves were matched with cheese and biscuits.  People brought along their favourite preserves and recipes to discuss the intricacies of preserving whilst tasting all that was on offer.  The recipes were collected and may eventually form the basis for a BFC Preserving book.
The success of these events tells us that people are interested in the topics we are presenting and hungry to share knowledge and learnings.

Membership for BFC has not been renewed since January 2020.  The Board has now agreed on a membership structure:
$40/annum for families
$20/annum for singles/concession
where members will have access to the food production skill program for free.  At any other events where we need to charge, members will receive a discounted rate.  Additionally we hope to run the ever popular morning teas again where members get together over a cuppa and cake to talk about all things food.
Membership renewals will be sent out shortly and we encourage everyone to join.

Board members
At the last AGM in September 2021, six members were elected to the Board including five new members: Penny Raleigh, Sally Kaitler, Dirk de Zwart, Trystyarna Sheridan and Lisa Morrison.  Fiona Wigg was the only returning member from the previous board.  Roles are as follows:
President               Fiona Wigg
Treasurer               Sally Kaitler
Secretary               Lisa Morrison
Assets                    Dirk de Zwart
Events/                   Penny Raleigh
Communications Trystyarna Sheridan

I would like to thank them all for their efforts to move BFC through the change process and for contributing energy, ideas and fun to our events.  Sadly we are losing Penny Raleigh who is heading off on another adventure and we wish her well.  Her contribution to our events was significant and we will miss her.
Under our constitution we must have a minimum of five people on the board to have a governance structure.  We currently have five remaining board members and welcome any additions to bolster our numbers up to seven members.

As I think back over the past year much has changed.  I miss the Hub and convenience of popping down to buy quality bulk food however change comes to all organisations and it was clear by mid last year that our shop was not sustainable.  We have moved through a difficult time of change at the Co-op but our purpose is essentially unchanged.  Of the three goals we held whilst operating the Hub, two still hold true to BFC as we are now:
Nurturing our community through shared food, activities and events
Sustaining our community by supporting local fresh producers and local food networks
We hope that our practical program for upskilling fruit and veggie production, and planned events to continue the discussion on the future of food production will inspire and meet the needs of our members and the wider community.   The Co op provides an opportunity to reconnect with like minded community members, engage with local producers and develop an understanding of food systems.  It provides the warm ties which bind a community so please come and join us.

Fiona Wigg
President, Beechworth Food Co op