CEAT Marketing and Communications Manager Shikha Sud recounts her experience at the 2021 Food in the Capital Conference below.
The first day of the conference was packed with presentations and talks from speakers across the industry, and the second day was an opportunity to see food in action through the peri-urban tour, which took representatives directly to the food source – local producers and agrifood businesses making their mark towards a sustainable food ecosystem in the Canberra region.
The peri-urban tour kicked-off its journey with its first stop at CEAT. We hosted a visit to showcase food-related innovation and success stories in a thought provoking series of presentations delivered by ANU researchers and food innovators based in the CEAT Innovation Hub.
Post networking, I hopped on the bus with a group of 30 delegates, and headed over to Black Mountain School and Six Degrees Café, which provides ongoing training and employment of young people with a disability in our local community. Morning tea (best brownies in Canberra!), was hosted by the café, and guest speaker, ACT Business Woman of the Year 2020, Chef Sunita Kumar, talked about inclusive employment ethos at her restaurant, Daana Canberra. A truly heart-warming experience, the school students took us on a tour of the Gallery and Supermarket Training Facility.
Next stop was Ikea, where we had lunch and learnt about their Sustainable Everyday Living program.
The highlight of the tour was the visit to Majura Farm to hear the story of the evolution of farming in the Majura Valley and experience firsthand the gradual land regeneration being undertaken by Anne McGrath and her son Fred McGrath Weber. Fred was recently named the 2020 Young Environmentalist of the Year by the ACT Conservation Council and apart from being an agriculturist, he is an avid artist and innovator. Anne and Fred took us around the farm and shared the history of ‘Majura Valley’ and talked about their biodynamic pastured free range egg business – ‘Majura Valley Free Range Eggs’ and products that go straight from paddock to plate. We met ‘Gloria’, the chicken(s), and enjoyed a cup of tea with home-made Anzac biscuits over a toasty fire. We were greeted and welcomed with such warmth by the McGrath family, their hospitality is incredible! The farm visit was an example of how sustainable farming techniques, tourism and technology can be combined to create a strong and productive farming community.
We ended the day with a beer and a tour of Capital Brewing, a successful, award winning brewery which produces high end craft beers with a focus on local ingredients from Canberra region farmers.
The Food in the Capital Peri-urban Tour was such a rewarding educational and enriching experience. Spending a beautiful Canberra day meeting local businesses who are passionate about sustainable farming and food production and eating and drinking locally grown produce with a wonderful group food enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than that!