The Otway Food and Fibre Showcase

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The Otway Food and Fibre Showcase

The Otway Food and Fibre Showcase is back for the second time as part of Eat Local Month, displaying the Otway’s best local produce, live music, market stalls, workshops and demonstrations. Forté chat to organiser Andrew Gray ahead of the event.

Hi, thanks so much for chatting to Forte. Can you tell us a bit about the showcase?
This is the second Otway Food and Fibre Showcase and is a major event in the Eat Local Month schedule. Feedback from last years event was – more more more! I’ve been involved in several local events and festivals on the Surf Coast and in the Otways over the years. Each time they seem to get bigger and more adventurous. These events are a chance for our coastal and hinterland communities to express our identity and connection to the landscape.

What’s the main idea behind the showcase?
As many of the farmers in the Otways are value adding to their product and building one on one relationships with their community and customers, this event is a chance to support producers at the pointy end of their business. Bringing all of our Otway food and fibre producers together at one place allows us to celebrate their contribution to the local food and fibre system. We are showing the link between buying local and building a resilient regional communities.

What kind of workshops can we expect to see at the event?
We have over forty stalls committed to the event, showcasing local produce such as fruit, veggies, nuts, oils, spices, native plants, beer, wine, preserves, beef, pork, lamb, etc. We have a whole section dedicated to fibre (eight stalls) with wool crafts, fleece, yarns, sheering, wool classing, talks and presentations. This is all accompanied by the thigh slapping jigs of the Ciderhouse Stringband. There’s also a workshop schedule running all day including bee keeping, regenerative farming, poultry management, soil health assessments for garden and growing and cooking your own produce.

Tell us about how your passion for local produce began?
I’ve spent many years working in environmental education including owning and running a business on the Surf Coast called Eco-Logic. I’ve also spent a lot of time working in environmental conservation via Coastcare and Landcare. My passion for sustainable local food and fibre systems has come from the realisation that most of our land is privately owned and farmed and the simple fact that we all need to eat. Working in Landcare is the best of both worlds. My passions seem to always turn into a job, but that means I love my job!

Has there been an unexpected highlight of your journey so far?
The little gems often arise when talking with producers. Hearing what they value and what’s important to them. Things like how important family and community is, or how they have made links with cooks and chefs who value locally sourced ingredients. The other highlight is growth, growth of the event, interest and support.

How do you think things are changing and evolving in the local produce field?
It’s just great to see people question where their food comes from and how it’s produced and making the connection between food, community, environment and personal health.

When & Where: Colac Showgrounds, Colac – April 30 (10am – 3pm)