Way out west community interest in food system transformation is powering along. Increasingly self reliant in energy from wind power generation, Albany, Western Australia, has a plethora of people and groups active in developing local community food initiatives, businesses and specialist produce to equally create a booming local food economy in the region.
Last week’s trip, along with Dr Nick Rose from Sustain. The Australian Food Network, included consultations with the Great Southern Food Hubs Committee plus Shires and other agencies within the Great Southern region. It highlighted the breadth of activity and desire to progress plans for a food hub in the region.
A visit to the local community farmers market on Saturday was an opportunity for a chat with local producers. Local asparagus and the variety of fresh and interesting veggies were of a high standard, the black radishes a new find, plus there were several types of tasty asparagus chutneys on sale.
The Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre Community Garden and food swap were abuzz with activity following the market visit, with some interesting local plants and seeds and healthy looking produce changing hands at a rapid rate. There were even hessian covered kneeling pads made from shredded recycled paper for the taking.
Later that day many involved in the food hub discussions were also part of a local food network event where it was good to speak and join in a celebratory meal, prepared by Xavier, a Michelin starred French chef, fortuitously now a local business owner (and croissant maker par excellence).
The following day a festival, Food for Thought, focused on celebrating innovative food businesses, the benefits of foods grown and produced in a clean environment and community connection, was supported by a thousand people out and about on a bright and sunny day.
As a fly in fly out for my brief stay its clear that the food future of Albany, supported by so many local food champions, is very bright indeed.