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Developing a sustainable food economy for the Coffs Coast


Brigid Veale
25 June 2010
A Coffs Coast Food Forum, hosted by Southern Cross University, is being held to bring together local food producers, marketers and suppliers to discuss the sustainable development of a regional food economy.

The forum, organised by the University’s School of Tourism and Hospital Management through its Growing Regional Tourism program and agriculture advisor Joe Pearce, will be held at the Coffs Harbour campus on July 22.

Ms Rose Wright, manager of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management’s Tourism Extension Unit, said the Coffs Coast Food Forum was the first phase of a strategic response to the development of regional food economies in the Coffs Coast region.

“The forum is designed to appeal to a diverse group of people involved in the production, marketing, supply and use of regional food,” Ms Wright said. “We want to provide an innovative environment to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the region.

“The Coffs Coast Food Forum aims to provide an opportunity for people to discuss the diverse range of initiatives already in place and strategies to build a regional food economy that links agricultural production, food manufacturing and tourism.”

Joe Pearce, who runs Mid North Coast Farm advisory services, said the establishment of networks, support services and general recognition of regional diversity, were vital components of community resilience, self reliance and sustainability.

“During my time in the agricultural sector I have witnessed young farmers and emerging small businesses struggle and in some cases fall through the cracks, largely, as a result of inadequate support, market awareness and networking facilities,” Mr Pearce said.

“There is a growing tendency to focus on mainstream large scale monoculture food production systems by the leading retailers, regardless of proximity to the market with the view that economies of scale will offset the logistics or additional transport costs associated."

The Tourism Extension Unit has been working closely with rural landowners and food producers in many regions across eastern Australia including tropical North Queensland, the Scenic Rim region, (west of the Gold Coast), Mary Valley (Qld) and the Long Paddock (NSW).

Ms Wright said the projects linking tourism and agriculture had unearthed a range of issues and opportunities in the sustainable development of regional food economies.

“Regional communities around the globe define themselves by their people, produce, landscape and stories," she said.

"Among rural landholders, there is a strong desire to embrace the development of regional food economies linking agricultural production, food manufacturing and tourism."

The forum will be held at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus, on Thursday, July 22, in the O Block lecture theatre from 9am to 1pm. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to the Tourism Extension Unit on 6626 9431 or email [email protected] with your full name and contact details.

Photo: Local producers Tony and Di Coe, are certified organic banana growers.