Last Wednesday more than 60 members of the regional food community attended the second Australian Capital Region Food Hub event and agreed that building a stronger regional food sector with a Southern Harvest brand would be a useful way of identifying local produce.
Hosted by Regional Development Australia (RDA) Southern Inland and Southern NSW Harvest Association, the evening started with Colin McLean, Executive Officer of RDA Southern Inland, welcoming attendees and providing an update of the significant actions undertaken since Food Hub # 1 in June.
“The first Food Hub event in June showed us that there is a lot of confusion in the market place about knowing where and how local food can be sourced by consumers and restaurateurs,” said Mr McLean, “so we have developed interactive maps of where local food can be sourced and what support consumers, producers and retailers need to strengthen the local food economy”.
The evening continued with Mark Spain, from Urban Agriculture Australia and Penny Kothe from Permaculture eXhange providing an update of the regional producers, suppliers and consumers surveys that have been underway throughout 2014.
“The surveys identify where local food is being grown and distributed,” said Ms Kothe. “Analysis of the survey findings revealed an overwhelming demand for retailers to stock locally grown food, additional farmers markets and box schemes.”
Mr Spain then facilitated discussion about the opportunities that the Southern NSW Harvest Association offered the region.
“Attendees identified a number of ways the association might contribute to building a stronger regional food sector and there was general agreement that the Southern Harvest brand would be a useful way of identifying local produce,” said Mr Spain.
Ms Kothe used the event to announce that plans were underway to establish a regional farmer’s market at Bungendore and Richard Everson, from Southern NSW Harvest, invited attendees to consider shaping the future of the Southern Harvest Association by joining the Committee.
Food Lovers Bungendore and Caroola Farm supplied an outstanding spread of local gourmet delicacies and a shared meal provided the perfect opportunity for discussions to continue and new friendships to be formed.
“This is a wonderful demonstration of local business and the community leading a collaborative process to develop, support and strengthen a local food economy in the region,” said Mr McLean.
“And most importantly, it will support, create and strengthen economic opportunities and jobs in the region.”