Starry-eyed farmers ambitious to feed the shire

After arriving in the shire, Kate Raymond became a foodie.

CLEAN AND GREEN: SAGE Farmers Market manager Kate Raymond says agriculture can piggy-back on international inroads made by the shire's tourism industry as well as increase to support growing local demand.

CLEAN AND GREEN: SAGE Farmers Market manager Kate Raymond says agriculture can piggy-back on international inroads made by the shire's tourism industry as well as increase to support growing local demand.

“I have become such a food snob.” Ms Raymond said.

“I’m not much of a cook and I don’t grow anything, but I am so accustomed to the quality and freshness of the food grown here.”

The SAGE Farmers Market manager said the shire had a strong agricultural heritage.

“If we don’t keep the land productive it falls into disrepair and we lose agriculture from the shire,” Ms Raymond said.

She said the advent of SAGE and the Tuesday afternoon market caused a rebirthing of local agriculture.

“Small scale, family run farms – mostly younger people growing vegetables,” Ms Raymond said.

To assist that rebirthing, Ms Raymond became a member of the shire’s Rural Producers Advisory Committee (RPAC).

“Those new, young farmers – with stars in their eyes and ambitions to feed their community –  need somewhere to farm,” Ms Raymond said.

She said land access and tenure, and sorting out the regulatory burden, was something the RPAC could facilitate.

“Small-scale growers have much to contribute; it’s not just the economy, but social capital.”

And assist with shire’s demographic imbalance?

“People in their thirties are coming to the Eurobodalla, but they are not staying. Farmers stay, they’re invested,” Ms Raymond said.

Ms Raymond said developing an internationally recognised brand for the shire’s food culture was in line with the other economic activity.

I have become such a food snob ... I am so accustomed to the quality and freshness of the food grown locally.

Kate Raymond

“Clean and green – we have that in spades here,” she said.

“It ties in with the shire’s Unspoilt promotions; we can capitalise on the inroads tourism has already made overseas.”

Ms Raymond said there were already a few producers exporting niche product overseas and opportunities there were increasing.

“But there also needs to be an emphasis on supplying food to locals,” she said.

“Clean and green branding can benefit both local and international markets.”

Ms Raymond said small scale farming was a viable option for shire families.

“They are not millionaires but they make a good living just growing vegetables.”