Bizarre as it sounds, one of my hobbies is grocery shopping. I’m not talking about trawling the fluorescent aisles of a mega-supermarket, but rather poking around farmers markets, ethnic grocery stores and fancy providores.

However, given my recent lack of mobility due to pregnancy and a newborn baby, I’ve fully embraced the concept of online grocery delivery. After asking the Twitterverse for recommendations, the most common response was Aussie Farmers Direct. The business has their headquarters in Melbourne but they deliver fresh products all around Australia, and so far my orders have varied from their fruit and veg boxes (I like the ‘mystery box’ element it adds to my cooking), excellent salmon fillets, milk and bread staples and Glick’s bagels.

Today’s HOT Chat is with Braeden Lord, the big boss of Aussie Farmers Direct. Thanks Braeden!

Braeden, tell me a bit more about your background and how you came to head up Aussie Farmers Direct?

Great fresh food has been my life, my career and my passion! I began my career sweeping the floors of a bakery as a young boy and worked my way up through the ranks.

My background in fresh food, franchising and national retailing meant that I had the experience needed to oversee the different aspects of the Aussie Farmers Direct business. This involves sourcing premium fresh food from around Australia which is then home delivered by milko franchisees in the major cities and regional areas across the country.

What makes Aussie Farmers Direct different from other grocery delivery companies in Australia?

Aussie Farmers Direct is 100% Australian. Our mantra is to support Australian farmers by delivering, to thousands of homes, a wide range of 100% Australian products including fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, milk and other fresh food essentials. Families love the ease and competitive value of the service.

Our product range is 100% Australian grown, made and owned and it’s fresh! For example much of our fruit and vegetables are delivered within 48 hours of being harvested.

By ordering with Aussie Farmers Direct you are supporting Australian farmers and your local milko, as well as reducing your carbon footprint as our products are all sourced within Australia. Plus less time shopping means more time with family.

I notice that Aussie Farmers Direct has just established its own dairy. Where else do you source your produce from?

Most of our produce is sourced within the state that its delivered to and comes from major fruit and vegetable growing regions such as Victoria’s Yarra Valley and Goulburn Valley, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area in New South Wales, plus a lot of our tropical fruit comes from Far North Queensland. Our apple juice comes from Tasmania, our yoghurts are made in Melbourne, most of our pork comes from an RSPCA approved farm in the Otway ranges in south-western Victoria… no matter what region our products are sourced from, you can be guaranteed EVERYTHING comes from Australia.

Since you started as CEO, what has been the most challenging issue you’ve faced?

Guaranteeing 100% Australian supply in everything we do is an ongoing challenge. We are committed to providing only Australian grown, made and owned products and as our customer base grows across the country there’s a real challenge in providing wholly Australian food in the quantities we need.

What are your next plans for Aussie Farmers Direct?

This year our two main focuses are launching our dairy in Camperdown, which produces fresh, delicious milk that is 100% Australian owned, together with launching Aussie Farmers Foundation which is a not for profit provider that works to help farmers in need and improve the future of Australia’s agriculture industry. Both of these projects will bring us closer to the farming community.

In terms of new products, we’ve just launched hot cross buns and spreadable butter in time for Easter. We also have a new range of sliced deli meats available and Australian-grown tea is on the agenda.

Finally, where are your tips for HOT foodie places you like in Melbourne?

For a weekend breakfast you can’t beat Replete Providore (302 Barkers road, Hawthorn +61 3 9818 4448). It’s a friendly café run by a young couple which stands alone next to a 7/11. They have a great seasonal menu board of home-made breakfasts including my favourite home-made kidney and white ‘baked beans’. My kids love their range of muffins – the service and quality is great, the only hassle is that it’s hard to get in!