Tuesday 30 May 2017
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Farmers' Markets


Mr FINCH (Rosevears)  - Mr President, there is plenty of evidence Australians are becoming more interested in the quality of the food they eat and how their food is produced.

The thriving Saturday morning Harvest Launceston Community Farmers' Market is a clear demonstration of this, as is the number of farmers' markets that have sprung up, and are still springing up, around Australia.

The big supermarket chains have recognised this trend and are trying to give consumers a better idea of where their food comes from.  In particular, Coles uses pictures of individual farmers and internet links on some of their fresh-food packaging.  There is also a strong push for more specific food labelling.  Many restaurants are now realising that consumers are interested in where their food comes from.  You can see that when you watch food shows on television. Restaurants and consumers are more interested how food is produced.  For example, Melbourne's Attica, which is listed as one of the world's 50 best restaurants, has its own vegetable garden, an innovation as far as my knowledge is concerned.

Nothing is more satisfying for many consumers than to visit the farms where their food is produced and to talk to those who produce it. 

This develops trust and it also gives producers an opportunity to understand market needs and tastes.  Members may recall that some years ago I toured all the farms in my electorate of Rosevears.  It was very enlightening to meet the farmers, and to see their produce and what they were trying to achieve on their farms.  This is at the centre of an initiative in my electorate.  On 24 and 25 November this year local producers will come together to hold a 'farmgate festival'.  This will enable anyone interested in the origins of some of their food to visit the farms where it is produced and talk about growing and production methods. 

The festival is the idea of one of the former rural woman of the year in 2015, Carol Bracken, whose hazelnut farm will be part of the festival.  I previously mentioned Carol in a special interest speech about her winning that award.  So far, 16 West Tamar producers are taking part in this farmgate festival, but I can assure members there will be more. 

Carol Bracken's idea is supported by the West Tamar Council and the state Government through Events Tasmania, which is providing $56 000 over the next three years.  Who knows where this idea can go?  Carol says -

We hope that the festival will be a great initiative for people to travel to the region and also an opportunity for locals to learn more about where their food comes from and the people who produce it.  We are lucky that we have such a diversity of produce and farming in the Tamar Valley that there is something for everyone to explore.  We aim to appeal to families, foodies and health nuts who want to get in touch with real food and meet people who are passionate about growing and cooking local produce.

 Participants include vineyards, cider producers, berry growers, orchardists, honey producers, beef and pork growers, and more.  The list will grow.  When people visit the farms, they will be able to see it all.  There will be tastings, produce sales and picnics, and they will have a festival centre at the Exeter Showgrounds, which has terrific facilities for this sort of thing.  The centre will be available for lunches, and in years to come it will probably be available for dinners.  It is nice to have a central location:  people coming to the Tamar Valley can go to the Exeter Showgrounds, get the information they need and then go off on that terrific journey through my electorate of Rosevears, known as the West Tamar.

Festival organisers have already established a website for information and ticket sales - www.farmgatefestival.net.au.  This farmgate festival will be held on the weekend of 25 and 26 November.  It will feature meals cooked by guest chefs using the produce on display.

This planned event fits very neatly into Tasmania's image as a producer of fantastic food.  Our brand in the Tamar Valley is particularly very strong.  I am sure the farmgate festival will grow into an annual event with wider participation.  Thanks to Events Tasmania and the West Tamar Council for supporting this.  Well done to Carol Bracken for the idea.