Friday, 23 January 2009

Locally owned and operated

I've really enjoyed the remainder of my maternity leave in my hometown back in Western Australia; it's shown me how the South West region has progressed, particularly when it comes to local produce. Much of the region has been farmed using conventional methods, from cattle (meat and dairy) to potatoes and caulies, and in more recent times, vineyards, avocados, and a range of vegies for the Perth and overseas markets. In the Lower South West, marron and trout farming have long been successful, again with overseas markets adding to the demand, as has some more recent innovative farming and value adding practices, including many accommodation options. One such innovative venture is called Holy Smoke; a small business owned and operated in Manjimup. The business began as a one-man operation, and has grown into a slick operation where products are now gracing Perth supermarket shelves.

"So?" I hear you say? Well, in the 10+ years I've been living away from the area, I've noticed much more of these innovations this summer! Holy Smoke is just one example. Another is the award winning Bannister Downs, a Northcliffe based dairy which packs its own milk in recycled material, along with producing and packaging its own cheeses, creams and flavoured milks - all this from the dairy - the primary producer, cutting out the "middle man". Not only do Holy Smoke and Bannister Downs add value to a primary product, they are marketing with 'local' firmly at the centre.


Holy Smoke has a small deli in the neighbouring town of Pemberton where customers can try the produce via delicious freshly made gourmet rolls - I tried the bird lovers roll which contains smoked duck and smoked chicken with fresh salad. The fish lovers roll is also popular and contains smoked trout and marinated prawns. The deli stocks regional products from Margaret River, Manjimup and other surrounding towns, showcasing the best of local cuisine in a highly accessible fashion. I bought my partner a bag of goodies for his birthday - isn't that the best promotion of local goods?!


Likewise, Bannister Downs milk can be found on the shelves of the local supermarkets and is competitively priced. My own parents prefer it to the bigger milk packaging companies. The pride in 'buying local' as well as 'producing local' is well and truly alive. It is also a huge drawcard for tourism to the area, where operators can team up with accommodation ventures to offer a broader local experience which ensures visitors not only eat local but engage the local services and can tell of their local experiences to others, perpetuating a trend of holidaying 'locally', so to speak.

In the current economic climate it is satisfying to see local business and local communities pull together innovative practices and sustainable processes to hopefully withstand the downturn impacting the globe. If we take care of a local areas by buying and producing locally, we can go some way to ensuring the long term health and wellbeing of our precious communities.

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