By STEVE KELLY
FEEDBACK from a group of 30 local producers, retailers and health specialists will inform a Regional Food Plan into how the local food sector can reach its full potential.
Gateway Health and Northeast Health Wangaratta held its third food lab last week, which canvassed ideas under the ‘Community food for all’ program.
The end goal of the program is to work out ways to promote local food to consumers, hence supporting local producers, retailers and jobs.
“The main thing to come out of it was bringing together the existing entities within one connecting body,” Gateway Health promotions coordinator, Clare Schultz, said.
“It’s about finding what’s out there and establishing a common theme such as eating well and supporting local economies.
“By supporting the local food sector we’re supporting local people, enhancing training and education, and creating jobs.”
A recent food mapping study found there were 90 producers of food product in the rural city.
And while many of them have marketing programs, Ms Schultz said the food plan will include how they can use the product to promote the region.
She said a goal of the group is to also encourage the consumption of more fresh fruits and vegetables and with this comes health benefits, including reducing the risk of illness and chronic disease.
Peter Kenyon, one of the Food Lab TALKING FOOD: Deep in discussion were (clockwise from left) Russell Sully, Anna Lottkowitz, a fresh fruit and veg producer from Gapsted Sani Baker and Marion Rak, a cherry producer. PHOTO: Kylie Wilson organisers, said one of the strong “Another discussion point was come to the farms and offer advice ideas that came out of the first meetdeveloping more extension services on best practice, general support and ing, a farmgate trail, remained a hot for small growers. connection. topic of discussion. “Whittlesea local government “Again, with an operating farmgate
“It’s already proved successful in has provided support in this area to trail, an extension officer could be NSW starting in Western Sydney 20 promote extension services and it employed to do that.” years ago and over the last 10 years it may be something that local govAll the information and feedback has spread right down to the border,” ernments in the North East could from the three food labs will be colhe said. also look at. lated to inform a report ahead of the
“It’s virtually shovel ready. “It provides someone who can plan.