Demand growing for Southern Forests food and wine experiences.
Since launching the Genuinely Southern Forests Food and Farm Experience in 2018, the Southern Forests Food Council has adapted its approach to meet the changing needs of travellers, focusing on providing bespoke, tailored experiences. With over twelve bookings already in place during 2019, the strategy is reaping rewards, increasing exposure for the region’s agri-industry to a broad audience.
The specialised programs for visiting groups have secured bookings from schools, international agriculture delegations, chef groups and gourmet travellers. This March, the region hosted Matters of Taste Cooking School and Iona Presentation College with both tours resulting in further bookings.
The twenty visitors from Matters of Taste Cooking School enjoyed a five day tour making the most of the range of autumn produce in full production. Guests visited farms producing eggs, strawberries, figs, potatoes, cauliflower, passionfruit as well as getting a behind the scenes perspective on the production of wine, milk, cheese, green tea and olive oil.
The council also welcomed fourteen students from Iona Presentation College for a two-day tour of the region. The students were able to visit local dairy, marron, pastured egg and green tea producers, as well as enjoy an orchard experience. The tour aligned well with students working on assignments tracking food from its regional starting point along the supply chain through to the plate in Perth.
Thanks to the region’s gourmet reputation and the hard work of Agri-tourism Coordinator Sophie Zalokar (also chef/owner of Foragers Field Kitchen and Cooking School), groups have eagerly sought out an opportunity to develop a visit program to suit their members.
“Niche tours and custom tours offer a high value, boutique opportunity to understand the provenance of our food in the Southern Forests, which can equally be delivered by the superb product and regional experiences,” said Sophie.
“The authentic experience can only enhance the Genuinely Southern Forests regional brand as the place to come for a warm, welcoming country experience, away from the highly commercialised tour experiences offered in more mature tourism markets. I can’t imagine Manjimup or the other locations doing anything other than keeping it real!” Sophie added.
Tourism WA research shows that around 400,000 visitors to Western Australia are considered Gourmet Travellers - looking for dedicated food and wine experiences. As such, the Southern Forests Food Council is confident that providing a one-of-a-kind experience to its visitors is a step in the right direction.
“We are thrilled to be able to showcase the broad range of products to tourists with these tours. Focusing on specialised tours allows us to meet a wide range of needs and work together with our producers to create the best opportunities for industry exposure and growth,” said Southern Forest Food Council Chair Monica Radomiljac.
For more information on Genuinely Extraordinary Food and Farm Experiences, please email Sophie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08 9772 4180.
Producers wishing to be a part of the tour program must be paid members of the Southern Forests Food Council.
Please contact Jennifer on email@example.com or call 08 9772 4180 for more information.
Southern Forests Food Council:
The Southern Forests Food Council was founded in 2010 by a group of passionate local producers who recognised that the wealth and abundance of produce grown in the region made it perfect for major food production and agri-tourism. Its role was formalised in 2012 after receiving a $5 million investment under the State Government’s Royalties for Regions initiative. The investment was part of a $7 million Royalties for Regions allocation to the Shire of Manjimup for its Agricultural Expansion Project. In 2018, the SFFC secured a further $1.5 million in State Government funding to support the Council’s on-going activities in developing economic opportunities for the region for three years.
The Food Council is committed to unifying the area’s world-class and diverse producers to strengthen the region’s economy, attract investment and export opportunities, promote regional pride, and create sustainable jobs. It represents local producers, culinary and agri-tourism operators who live and work in what is WA’s premier food bowl, aiming to ultimately establish the Southern Forests as an internationally-recognised agricultural region and culinary tourism destination.
The Southern Fore