By Danielle Kutchel
A breakfast showcasing and celebrating the region’s farmers and producers has been hailed as a great success.
The inaugural breakfast was held at the Officer Civic Centre on Thursday 21 November, part of a number of National Agriculture Day celebrations throughout the shire.
Guests were treated to a breakfast made of produce grown in Cardinia, including asparagus from local powerhouse producers.
With a focus on sustainability, the event was low waste: keep cups replaced single use bottles of water, biodegradable napkins were used as plates and food scraps have been put into compost.
Upper Beaconsfield and Narre Warren CFA members were on hand to speak about the assistance the fire service can provide to farmers, and also handled the catering.
The event was also an opportunity to recognise the breadth of food production in Cardinia, from apples to wine, dairy to beef.
Speakers highlighted the variety of soil types and climates in Cardinia, that enable farmers to grow such high quality produce.
Jeff Springfield, new mayor of Cardinia Shire, spoke of agriculture’s importance to the shire.
“We need to promote what we want to see grow and develop in the coming years within our community and this is one of those things – sustainable, healthy, locally-produced food is what we need for the future,” he said.
Additionally, the event highlighted developments in the Cardinia Food Movement.
Cockatoo-based dairy farmer Vicki Jones said she was keen to be part of the movement and see farmers make the transition from being advice takers to becoming advice givers.
“It’s a new farming model. It’s creating a food network where farmers and the local community can supply consumers locally with food. It’s really the beginning of a new world,” she said.
Ian Anderson, president of the Cardinia Branch of the Victorian Farmers Federation, was in attendance and said he was pleased with the support shown for farmers.
He said Cardinia’s strength lies in its farming diversity, which challenges for policy makers and agenda setters to be more “open minded” in their thinking.
“The council in the past has always had framing in the back of their minds because they do understand that you’ve got to support farmers at the very start and consider them right through the development process.”
That development could post challenges in the future, but Mr Anderson said he wasn’t concerned.
“I think it can strengthen us because as long we coexist together, there will be a future for us all.
“It’s the vision and foresight that happens here and now that will ensure that that takes place going forward. Farmers are an important part of the fabric of the community.”
Lisa Brassington, collective impact facilitator at the Cardinia Food Circle and organiser of the event, said the breakfast was a good opportunity to stop, reflect and be thankful.
“It’s wonderful to put Cardinia on the map as we celebrate with the rest of Australia to recognise agriculture,” she said.
She said she was grateful for the volunteers who lent their expertise to ensure the morning ran smoothly, and added that plans are in place for an expanded event next year.