Seasonal, locally sourced fresh food delivered to your door – who could ask for more? The inspired crew at Bello Food Box provide just that, so Focus decided to find out more about this great local business …
What was the inspiration behind beginning Bello Food Box?
Bello Food Box was founded in 2011 by the Northbank Community Garden in Bellingen, with the idea of establishing a fresh local organic food system that would support local organic farmers, provide healthy nutritious food for the community and help improve our local economy.
How has the business grown since it first started?
We have come a long way since then, mostly in terms of the variety of produce and other groceries we now offer. In the beginning, it was all about preset weekly fresh produce boxes, which many people found to be too limited in variety. We would also often get feedback that much of the local produce each week people were growing themselves at home in their kitchen garden. So we set about evolving this part of our business and now offer a full range of certified organic fruit and vegetables, plus bread, milk, eggs, cheese and a whole range of other organic groceries.
We’re proud of our range and take the time to carefully select products we use at home ourselves. We have also developed our online store and invested in our new refrigerated van, which now delivers every Monday and Friday from Macksville to Woolgoolga.
What is the motivation behind Bello Food Box?
We want to provide a healthy alternative to the mainstream supermarket culture that dominates our national market. We believe the future of food production must be in sustainable organic farming practices, distributed within increasingly local markets. This means more fresh local organic produce and less transportation and food storage, which will also mean more nutrient dense food for our community, lower prices for the consumer and higher prices for the farmers.
The current supermarket culture promotes low prices to the consumer, low prices to the farmer, low nutrient value of produce, and high impact on the environment.
Our motivation is to help restructure this system to create a food production and distribution system that will allow us to provide our community with nutrient rich food for generations to come.
How do you source farmers and producers?
We are always on the lookout for new local organic growers that can fill gaps in our local supply chain. Farmers must be certified organic or biodynamic.
We do have a couple of local growers who grow organically, but are not certified, which is OK with us too – we know these growers personally, have visited their homes, trust their practices and know they grow beautiful produce.
With our grocery range, we only stock products that you will find in our kitchen at home. If we like it, and it falls under our ethical guidelines of being a premium quality product that is produced with love and awareness for the environment, then you will most likely see it on our shelves. It is inspiring to learn how many of these ethical products are now beginning to flood the market – it’s a positive sign of where we’re heading.
What do you look for when you connect with them?
Love, honesty and integrity.
Is all produce locally sourced?
This is a really good question. Even though we have a very strong focus on local produce and always prioritise local produce when available, the reality at this stage is that the local organic market cannot provide the variety and volume of produce that the public expects to have on the shelves week in, week out. We are in a transitional phase at the moment, of understanding that in nature not everything is available all the time. Keeping this in mind, our primary objective is to supply a full selection of premium quality organic produce, whilst working closely with local growers to increase the percentage of this produce that is grown locally. This is a process that will take time, but we are hopeful that there will be more and more organic farmers stepping in to fill the holes in the local market. At the moment we can say that over 50% of our produce is sourced locally – we would like to increase that percentage to 90% over the next few years, leaving room for a few special treats that don’t grow in this region, like cherries and mangoes over summertime.
What are your plans for the future?
We plan to keep chipping away at what we do. We love it and see so much value in feeding ourselves and our families with an abundance of amazing nutritionally rich food. Not only are we full of beans, we feel good about the process our food has gone though before it comes into our home, and that makes us feel good all over. We believe that what we are doing is a very important part of maintaining a sustainable future for us all.
Where can people find out more?
We’re at our packing headquarters in Bello every Monday and Friday and always up for a chat, or otherwise you can contact us via our website @