One of the Southern Forests Food Council’s objectives is to achieve recognition as an ethical producer of quality food. This extends from farm practices right through to how the produce is presented to the consumer.
Beautiful spring growing conditions in the Southern Forests region of Western Australia are resulting in a sweet and juicy cherry crop with overall volumes on track to reach around 80 tonnes.
Laura Bolitho, Southern Forests Food Council Operations Manager, reports that around ten percent of fruit has been affected by late-season rains, and the harvest is a bit behind schedule this year as a result.
“The late rain can be heartbreaking for our growers as it causes the cherries to split near the stem, meaning they break down quicker and can have a shorter shelf life. The fruit is still delicious, sweet, and safe to eat. It just needs to be eaten sooner - a great excuse to gorge on these jewels of summer stone fruit,” said Laura.
Visitors to the region can support growers by buying cherries direct at the farm gate using the cherry trail map available on the Southern Forests Food Council website .
Local grower Kathy Grozotis anticipates that a little more heat will finish off the fruit at her property beautifully for a very sweet crop of 40 tonnes this year. Picking will begin next week with labour being sourced through social media as well as traditional channels.
“Campaigns around labour shortages have led to us receiving interest on social media about farm work. So we have been able to put on school leavers and ag students and are having some real success with the next generation of farm workers,” said Kathy.
“Travelling to the area provides a great experience over summer, it’s early mornings and hard work but you can make some great friends and really see what farming is about,” Kathy says.
The Southern Forests region, 3 hours drive from Perth, expects around 8,000 visitors for the annual Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival on 12 December.
Organisers are thrilled to be running the festival with all efforts being made to be COVID-19 conscious, including a visitor registry being managed on the event website. Visitors are encouraged to explore the region to secure their cherries which will be available for purchase in town and at farm gate locations.
A range of events and local produce stalls showcasing the richness and variety of the region will be underway, including the Cherry Festival Farm Tour hosted by the Southern Forests Food Council. The tour is a half day, $92 experience visiting three different farms to show the diversity of the area.
There are limited places remaining and bookings can be made online here.
Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival: https://www.cherryfestival.com.au
Genuinely Southern Forests: https://www.southernforestsfood.com
Facebook: Genuinely Southern Forests
Georgia Thomas, Director of Fresh Creative Management
M: 0431 444 918 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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. The SFFC received further State Government funding in 2018 of $1.5 million to support the Council’s on-going activities in developing economic opportunities for the region.
The Southern Forests region includes the towns of Manjimup, Pemberton, Northcliffe and Walpole.
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 Forests produces over 50 different types of fruits and vegetables, truffles and boutique produce, dairy, sheep, pork and cattle farms, as well as award-winning wineries and exceptional culinary experiences. The Southern Forests region is heavily invested in agriculture, with $230 million of agricultural production coming from the region.