Bearing local produce at the launch of The Grocer at The Alstonville House with No Steps are nursery staff Leanne Smith (left), Lisa McWhinney and Rhiannon Stokes.
Bearing local produce at the launch of The Grocer at The Alstonville House with No Steps are nursery staff Leanne Smith (left), Lisa McWhinney and Rhiannon Stokes. Jacklyn Wagner

Local produce in more households

BETTER access to locally grown food, new farmers' markets and a reduction of the reliance on food from outside the region are some of the highlights of the Northern Rivers Food Links project.

It was a co-operative venture involving seven local government areas and Rous Water, with funding provided by the NSW Environmental Trust to plan, implement and support local food projects from 2009 to 2012.

Grant funds for the project were $2.057 million, but the total regional investment was more than $4.2 million after adding cash and in-kind contributions from the councils and other organisations.

The project's final report was released this month, showing the venture has been a success.

A total of 137 on-the-ground initiatives were implemented.

Some of these included:

Source identification: 85 retailers put labels on their produce showing where the food was from.

The Sustainable Food Directory was launched, giving people a guide on where to support local produce, fair trade and organic products in the Byron Shire.

Establishment of The Grocer at Summerland House Farm at Alstonville, providing 100% local food daily.

More than 50 farmers supply their produce to The Grocer.

Muli Muli Community Garden.

Eight community gardens (six at schools) in the Kyogle local government area.

In addition, 500 people on the Northern Rivers were surveyed, with 71% saying they had increased the amount of local food in their household since January 2010.

Of the 85 retailers across the region who were involved with the project, 73% reported that sales had increased.

The final report also found that at least 22 farmers representing 31 agricultural industries had adopted more sustainable on-farm practices.

To read the final report or to find out more about the Northern Rivers Food Links project and its achievements, visit northernriversfoodlinks.com.au.

 

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