It all began with a book called “No Impact Man” by Colin Bevan. A dear friend handed it to me the year I turned 30.
Colin was on a mission to live with his family in New York City while having zero impact on the environment. In the book, he shone a light on what’s been done to our food. As I read it on the bus on my way to work in the city each day, my eyes were opened to a bunch of issues I’d been completely unaware of…
We are being poisoned, our world is increasingly toxic and many of the “food-like” items on our supermarket shelves aren’t actually food!
This started me on a mission to learn all I could so I watched documentary after documentary, read book after book and came to the obvious conclusion that my diet was S.A.D (Standard Australian Diet). Very sad indeed.
In fact, I was eating gluten for breakfast, lunch and dinner and because I ate some fruit and vegetables, didn’t really eat much “junk” food and always chose “low-fat”, I actually thought I was eating quite well and that it wasn’t my food choices causing my health issues. But I was continuously constipated, bloated, tired, always experiencing the 3pm slump and had mega sugar cravings.
Doctors told me my diet wasn’t the problem and that I was just going to have to take pharmaceuticals for the rest of my life.
I knew there had to be a better way!
So, I took matters into my own hands and started researching. I quickly realised the modern day diet was most definitely causing a lot of my health issues. I learned about the impact of pesticides, gluten (which is heavily sprayed), preservatives and additives on our bodies and quickly switched to an organic, gluten-free, wholefood diet.
Not only was the food I was now eating delicious, I was starting to feeling better every day, and my symptoms were starting to disappear. I was sleeping better, I had more energy, my bowels were moving (regularly) and the cravings were gone. It was a revelation for me… I was a new woman!
I was so inspired by this and all I was learning that I started my first business – Inspired Living Events.
I held monthly documentary screenings complete with organic meals and guest speakers. I added quarterly weekend retreats and a group membership for wellness entrepreneurs – it was an amazing three years and we brought together a beautiful community of like-minded people in Brisbane.
Something we all had in common was the desire to eat organic food, straight from local farmers. We wanted quality food, that was easy to access, without excess packaging, for a reasonable price.
I tried many local, organic delivery services, stores and co-ops, and went to all the markets, but they were either poor quality, ridiculously expensive, time-consuming (as in you had to go to a location and help sort the food) or inconvenient (ie. trying to make it to the markets before they sold out with a baby and a toddler!).
Then when my second daughter was just a couple of months old (2015), I was gifted a vision for Spray-Free Farmacy.
It was so clear what I needed to do and I got to work immediately – forming a partnership with Farmer Kelly Strow, we started delivering a few boxes of fresh, local spray-free produce each week to family and friends.
Kel had her own small farm near Woodford and was already collecting spray-free produce from neighbouring farms and selling it at local markets. Her produce was so fresh, tasty and such good value, that we were able to put together a really enticing offering for locals that was waste-free, easy and affordable.
We quickly established pick-up points so customers could collect from a location near them to avoid the cost of delivery, and we had a range of set boxes, eggs and a few add-ons to choose from (a super small selection to start with!).
Within 6 months we were doing around 60 boxes a week and were able to buy our first van (and stop using the car or borrowed vehicles!).
My husband Trev was able to quit his day job which meant we could add more delivery days, and things continued to grow from there, with so many achievements and milestones hit along the way:
- My Dad was made redundant from his job and was able to join our delivery team at the exact time we were needing another driver
- My friend Cassie needed work right when we needed some additional admin help and were ready to hire our first office worker
- When Covid hit and the first lockdown happened we were perfectly positioned to deliver to homes – we saw a 150% increase in orders overnight!
- As we have needed more produce we have found new spray-free farmers approaching us – we now support more than 25 and this number is growing.
Eight years into this journey, we now have an amazing team of health-conscious foodies, a huge network of spray-free and certified organic farmers and food makers, a purpose to help as many people as we can - that we stand by every day, and, most importantly, thousands of loyal customers across South East Queensland who get to be nourished by our amazing food every week.
We are so grateful that we get to share what we love we so many people every week and are excited about what the future holds (more organics meats, biodynamic wines and all the good things that are going to help make the world a better place).
Watch this space!
- Kristen Ottaway - Founder, Spray-Free Farmacy