Local food a standout success

Reef Catchments is a proud sponsor of the annual Greater Whitsunday Food Network (GWFN) Farm to Plate Dinner and Bus Tour thanks to the National Landcare Programme.

Held over two days, the dinner and bus tour saw more than 220 people turn out to support and celebrate our local farmers and fare. It was the fourth annual milestone for the Farm to Plate events.

Reef Catchments General Manager, Katrina Dent, teamed up with Mackay Regional Council CEO Craig Doyle to MC the dinner, which was attended by 155 people.

“Reef Catchments partnership with the Greater Whitsunday Food Network aligns closely with our organisations’ values and objectives of our funding partners in the Australian Government National Landcare Program,” Ms Dent said.

“Reef Catchments have a very proactive sustainable agriculture team working with farmers across the region, and we are proud to support landholders through diverse programs.

“As an example, we have just finalised five years of Queensland Government support for sustainable agriculture to support farmers to improve soil health and water quality.”

The Dinner

Matt Golinski and local chefs surprised guests with their creativity. The outstanding dishes featured local seasonal produce paired with interesting and lesser known ingredients including the betel leaf, used to wrap Cloudbreak Eungella beef, seasoned with fresh ginger and garlic from Eungella’s Holistic Pantry.

Reef Catchments Regional Landcare Facilitator Juliane Kasiske, said it was fantastic to see all the planning pay off.

“A lot goes into these events, and it is great to see everyone in the food and agricultural space get together and finally relax and just enjoy the delicious produce our region has to offer,” she said.

“Everything just tastes extra good when you know the food you are having is fresh off the farm. What really excited me was to learn about the achievements our farmers have made.”

The farm tour

The day after the dinner, the farm-to-plate bus tour headed up the range to Eungella providing a unique opportunity for people to see first-hand how local food is produced and processed.

Two buses, carrying 73 people, visited Eungelladale Dairy and Cloudbreak cattle farm.

“Most of us would know of the produce coming from the coast including the obvious items such as fish, sugar, lychees, pineapples, strawberries, corn and tomatoes,” Juliane said.

“However, it was a new experience to explore some of the produce coming from the sub-tropical rainforest of Eungella.”

At Eungelladale Dairy, Dale Fortescue explained the many steps it takes before milk arrives in the shops – starting with healthy soils and controlled grazing to ensure lush pasture, healthy cows, and nutritious milk.

Dale shared his dream of adding cheese production to his output.

“Dairy farming takes a lot of commitment,” said Juliane.

“I would love to see more people support our local food producers. Eungelladale is unique, it carries historic value being the only local milk processing plant left in our region, and we need to keep it alive.”

At Cloudbreak, Kel and Mandy Tennent invited the group onto their farm (a former dairy), where guests took part in feeding the Lowline cattle and enjoyed a hearty Ploughman’s overlooking the beautiful hilly countryside of Eungella.

Attendees were able to purchase fresh Eungella beef and other produce, including turmeric, garlic, and ginger, all grown in Eungella by the Holistic Pantry.

The bus tour included a picnic at Broken River, where participants heard from Jock Hansen about his exciting journey growing organic produce, including gourmet finger limes.

The bus tour introduced members of the local community to low mileage food, food diversity, and sustainable food production, and gave them a chance to experience the lifestyle of a farmer.

Reef Catchments would like to thank the Greater Whitsunday Food Network for their ongoing passion and drive in fostering our region’s local food culture.

The 2018 Farm to Plate Dinner and Bus Tour was made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of members of the Greater Whitsunday Food Network, and to the sponsors – including Reef Catchments (through the Australian Government Landcare Program), Mackay Regional Council, Star 101.9, and 4MK.