Coun­try WA plated up for city dwellers

Countryman - - NEWS - Rueben Hale Chris­tine Ran­dall and Steve Sawtell, sam­ple Ital­iano beef jerky made from South West beef, of­fered by Jerx Jerky owner Shan Sy­monds.

Farm­ers and city folk min­gled and chat­ted over lo­cally pro­duced gourmet de­lights at Farmer On Your Plate Day 2018, held at Perth’s Ya­gan Square on Fri­day.

Or­gan­is­ers say the an­nual event is bring­ing the coun­try to the city, con­nect­ing con­sumers to the farm­ers who pro­duce the high-qual­ity WA food for your plates and fos­ter­ing con­nec­tions be­tween the city and the bush.

The event cel­e­brates the im­por­tance of agri­cul­ture to Aus­tralia and en­cour­ages peo­ple to cham­pion farm­ing and sup­port the con­tin­ued pro­duc­tion of high-qual­ity food.

This year pa­trons wan­dered the stalls sam­pling the best of WA farm pro­duce, with lo­cally pro­duced meats, dairy, veg­eta­bles, honey and even roasted grasshop­pers pre­pared by food en­trepreneurs.

Visi­tors took the op­por­tu­nity to meet farm­ing fam­i­lies and their an­i­mals, take part in cook­ing demon­stra­tions and hear about the agri-tourism ex­pe­ri­ences to be had across Western Aus­tralia.

Event or­gan­iser and Kuk­erin yab­bie farmer Mary Nenke said many peo­ple had no con­nec­tion to farm­ing.

“They buy their food from the su­per­mar­ket each week and have no­body they are re­lated to or know work­ing in pri­mary agri­cul­ture,” she said.

Ms Nenke said farm­ers were an in­creas­ingly small por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion, de­liv­er­ing more value to the State than ever.

“It’s im­por­tant that peo­ple not only find out about food and where it comes from but also that they find out about the needs of the bush,” she said.

Ms Nenke said one of the sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties is chil­dren leav­ing.

“Kids are be­ing sent away to board­ing school at 11-years-old, and that is an enor­mous cost to fam­i­lies, and that im­poses on the busi­ness,” she said.

“It also causes so­cial dev­as­ta­tion, and I be­lieve it is part of the course of our de­pres­sion in the re­gions.

“The crazy thing was that I was raised a city girl and I was never plan­ning to marry a farmer and have six chil­dren.

“Hav­ing a bunch of kids meant we came to the stage of hav­ing to start send­ing them away in the early 1990s, at the same time Aus­tralia was suf­fer­ing a re­ces­sion.

“We couldn’t find enough money at the time to pay for our chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion.”

Event or­gan­iser and Kuk­erin farmer Mary Nenke of Cam­bi­nata Yab­bies.

Home­made Kitchen owner Kylie Ward gives out but­ter made from Ban­nis­ter Downs milk to Farm­ing Cham­pi­ons com­mit­tee mem­ber Beth McDon­nell.

Pic­tures: Rueben Hale

WA Gov­er­nor Kerry San­der­son opened the Farm­ing Cham­pi­ons An­nual Farmer on Your Plate Day at Ya­gan Square.

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