By STEVE KELLY

Myrtleford Times - - News -

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.

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