LOCAL fresh food is flavour of the month in the tourist industry right now and the Tweed's farmers, chefs and tourism gurus are gearing up to learn how to make the most of increasing opportunities in the sector.
They will come together for a nourishing weekend of all things food at the Food For Thought forum, to be held at Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff, on August 11-12. Food For Thought is a Tweed Shire Council initiative, aimed at making the most of the public's growing interest in the provenance of what they eat - where their food comes from, how it is grown and the processes involved in bringing it from paddock to plate.
Consumer demand is increasing for locally grown, fresh produce, said council's director of corporate services, Liz Collyer.
"This region, and the Tweed in particular, offers some of the greatest food industry opportunities in Australia," she said.
Collaboration was essential to be able to seize that opportunity, and the forum would highlight some of the "great ideas out there and exploring how we can work together to make the most of these opportunities", Ms Collyer said.
"We'll be looking at regional food strategies, local business stories and how to collaborate to build success in the industry."
Forum participants will visit several production sites, such as Tweedside Dairy in Byangum, Bucks Farm at Chillingham, Stone & Wood brewery at Murwillumbah, Tropical Fruit World at Duranbah, Cudgen Fresh and Madura Tea at Clothiers Creek.
There will be a host of speakers, including expert on sustainable food systems, sovereignty and security, Nick Rose, who will suggest ways of creating a fairer food system, training and skills development.
Pam Brook, of Brookfarm, will reveal how collaboration on the Northern Rivers led to success for her macadamia business, while council's sustainability officer Eli Szandala will join forces with Peter Smith from the All Natural Meat Company to outline a sustainable agriculture strategy.
From overseas, US organic farmer Anthony Flaccavento will speak on food hubs in North America and his work supporting ecologically healthy regional economies and Kathryn Scharf, the CEO of Community Food Centres in Canada, who will describe the models for such centres.
Others involved locally will share their experiences, including the Murwillumbah Farmers Market, Lindisfarne Grammar school and North Coast TAFE.
"All players along the food supply chain in local food and finding new business opportunies will benefit from attending," Ms Collyer said. The weekend would not be complete without lashings of tasty tucker, which will be served at the culminating night's food and wine trail dinner.
The five-course degustation with matching wines and beers will be created by Seasons executive chef Craig Robertson at Peppers Salt.
* Register at www.tweed. nsw.gov.au/FoodForThought
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