City of Playford councillors, Clint Marsh, Peter Rentoulis and Cathy-Jo Tame, are eager to stimulate and promote Virginia as the ‘Heart of the Foodbowl’, with the hope of ultimately achieving a branded image of the area, similar to what other famous regions, like the Barossa and McLaren Vale, enjoy.
At the beginning of last month, councillors organised a meeting with members of the Virginia Farmer’s Association (VFA), Jon Gee MP, and Dermot Cussen, Director of the Stretton Centre.
Cr Marsh said it has proven difficult in the past to meet with members of the VFA due to the long hours they work, however this meeting provided an opportunity for Mr Cussen, on behalf of the Northern Adelaide Plains Food Cluster, to form a face to face network with them.
Discussions between the parties present concentrated on the importance of different growing groups working together to achieve a common goal and strengthening ties within the farming community.
The importance of a presentable aesthetic of the area was touched upon, and in particular the need for the main street of Virginia to be upgraded.
“If, and when, that is funded (main street upgrade) and supported, we want to continue to lift the profile of Virginia in becoming the gem of the Northern Foodbowl,” Cr Marsh said.
“There’s room to improve the practices in farming and the materials used.
“We are liaising with NAWMA (Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority) to research into the disposal of plastics and the use of improved plastics farmers could use, and how to address additional costings.”
Mr Gee said it would be a good outcome if the VFA is coordinated into the Northern Foodbowl Cluster, create some targets, and could help create a brand recognisable for everybody.
“The common thread between the different farming groups in the area is to create a recognisable brand,” he said.
“There needs to be a consistent approach with farming groups to create a consistent message- and eventually end up with a brand to represent the Virginia area.
“A clear objective needs to be in place for the VFA and for the Virginia horticultural industry and for the larger Virginia area over all.
Mr Gee also recognised the importance of communication to achieve set goals, and the limited resources the VFA have to do the activities required.
“They are all working their guts out now, the meeting took time away from their work,” he said. “It’s very difficult to organise farmers.”
Cr Cathy-Jo Tame said the meeting was a great opportunity to show the VFA the different types of support available when doing applications.
“Some members are non-English speaking and would benefit from extra support provided by the Street Centre,” she said.
“There are so many growers around the area, there is an opportunity to have them working together, to develop a great farming area, and to develop a brand.”
For further information on the Northern Adelaide Plains Food Cluster contact the Stretton Centre on (08) 8254 4666.