Food network could benefit everybody

Otway Scenic Circle Association president Sue Ladewig is hosting a “local produce week” at Beech Forest to encourage the community to support district growers.

A TOURISM tourism leader says Colac district residents could eat fresher food and district farmers could win a supermarket price war if they supported each other.

Vegetable farmer Joe Sgro of Yeodene, south of Colac, and industry representatives raised concerns about the impact of supermarkets dropping the price of fruit and vegetables on growers in the Colac Herald this month.

Otway Scenic Circle Association president Sue Ladewig said an expanded network of food producers, with customers throughout the Colac region including restaurant owners, would have far-reaching benefits.

“The quality of food in the Otways is second to none and if we all bought locally grown food we would be lowering the food miles and buying fresh food.

“We waste 50 per cent of our food in Australia so instead of buying cheaper food, let’s just buy fresh, quality food from our local farmers,” she said.

“Joe Sgro could lose his 17 workers if we don’t change the way we think.”

Ms Ladewig said she hoped a “local produce week” at her Beech Forest cafe would help showcase the district’s abundant food supply and encourage people to eat “locally grown” food.

“We’re inviting more farmers and producers to be part of the local produce week; the more the merrier,” she said.

“The week-long event will be from March 19 to 25 and we’ll be showcasing a local menu and farmers will have displays and there will be an industry night on March 22.

“And we’ll have a cheese and wine night on the Saturday night with all our local cheeses, beers and wines,” Ms Ladewig said.

“We have so much in the Otways: local berries, vegetables, eggs, truffles, eels, biodynamic tomatoes, pork, shiitake mushrooms, beef, organic milk.”

Ms Ladewig said there were “opportunities” for producers and tourism but she said there were also “huge opportunities” for schools.

She said any school could start its own Stephanie Alexander-style garden program so children grew and ate local produce.

Ms Ladewig said students could grow vegetables, cook the fresh produce and compost waste in the garden.

“Even school canteens should be using local produce,” she said.

“The local produce week is a start but we need everyone in the community to be involved.”

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