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TV chef calls on councils to value food producers

SBS presenter and chef, Matthew Evans will address the 2015 Rural Summit.

SBS presenter and chef, Matthew Evans will address the 2015 Rural Summit.

SBS presenter Matthew Evans has called on councils to do more to support small local producers, saying the benefits include the increased tourism appeal of their towns.

Mr Evans, who presents Gourmet Farmer Afloat, currently screening Thursday nights on SBS will have the ear of councillors, CEOs and council staff when he speaks at the Rural Councils Victoria (RCV) Rural Summit in Halls Gap in April.

“The overseas experience is amazing. In little villages in France, local authorities see food markets as an important part of the fabric of their community and as a way to attract others to their village. Therefore, they make it easy for the producers who spend all their daylight hours producing food from the ground up – they don’t have the energy to organise everything for a market too,” Mr Evans said.

“They give producers easy access to power, they might even provide the marquees. Markets are just one way councils can support local producers. They can also facilitate sessions which get producers working together. I’ve seen ‘speed marketing’ for producer groups where they get ideas for their product or group of producers.”

Mr Evans is a former chef and food critic turned Tasmanian smallholder. He fattens pigs, milks a cow, tends a garden and works to ensure producers are valued.

RCV Chair, Cr Rob Gersch said the interest in home grown food just keeps growing.

“I don’t have to tell you food and wine specialties have put parts of Victoria on the map and councils have many roles to play in this. For some producers it might involve council’s planning function, environmental health staff or the tourism and economic development team. So, I am sure Matthew’s views will be one of the talking points of the Summit,” Cr Gersch said.

Food is just one way small Victorian communities can attract visitors and new residents, so it’s part of this year’s theme Standing out from the flock: is difference the key to success in rural communities?

This year’s speakers and panel sessions feature:

  • Sir Bob Parker, former Christchurch City Mayor
  • Naomi Simson, entrepreneur and founder of Red Balloon
  • Prof Elizabetta Barberio, scientist presenting on dark matter
  • Emma Dean, former town planner and Masterchef winner

The Rural Summit is an annual event of RCV. RCV is the alliance of Victoria’s 38 rural councils. It supports and promotes sustainable, liveable and prosperous rural communities, including a program of activities focussed on developing practical solutions to issues shared by the state’s rural councils and communities.

You can learn more about the Rural Summit and book your tickets here.

The Rural Summit is proudly supported by Rural Councils Victoria with funding from the Victorian Government’s $3.3 million Networked Rural Councils program. This year’s event will be hosted by the Northern Grampians Shire Council from 15 to 17 April in Halls Gap.

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