Farmers are a resilient bunch and they breed them tough in the West. It would have been extremely tough however in March this year when Cyclone Olwyn hit and devastated growers in the Gascoyne region. Beautiful crops obliterated by the destructive fury of Mother Nature. It would have been a huge knock down, but these farmers have slowly but surely weathered the storm, banded together and soldiered their way back to production. And they had a little help along the way. Great businesses like Farmer Jacks, the Western Australian owned and operated independent grocery stores, generously contributed $100,000 at a fundraising event held in April to help the region get back on its feet. On Saturday, Jacks at Claremont Quarter in conjunction with Buy West Eat Best (BWEB) and the Gascoyne Food Council held the WA Food Fest. It was a chance to take in the very impressive new store layout and co-branding with the BWEB logo, but also to showcase some fabulously fresh products direct from the Gascoyne, firmly back in business, along with the chance to speak to a line up of various BWEB members, who had stands set up throughout the store with the opportunity to sample their wares.
What becomes apparent when you speak to the folks manning these booths, or womanning in many instances, is that these are passionate people. Passionate about the beautiful products they are growing, farming or producing and wanting to share the story with you. I enjoyed the chance to hear their story and to have a taste or two along the way.
I hadn’t known much at about lupins or how versatile a grain they are, but I tried lupin hummus, which was just delicious and learnt a bit more about it from the Lupin Foods team. The Moora Citrus oranges from the WA Citrus stand were bursting with sweet orangey flavour, at the peak of their season. Potatoes are a wonderfully versatile veg and it was great to see what the team from Fresh Potatoes were serving up. Over the Moon Organics Fetta was a creamy wonder! All the meats – Harvey Beef, Plantagenet Pork, Mount Barker Chicken British Sausage Company, Dorper Lamb, Linley Valley Pork, Karradale Meats had been cooked to perfection and were eagerly sampled off toothpicks with the occasional sauce or salad accompaniments. The seafood from Abacus Fisheries was being prepared with added flair by WA Food Ambassador Don Hancey and Head Chef from Print Hall, Dan Fisher. They drew the crowds, keen to sample the Shark Bay Crab Rilette, Shark Bay Blue Swimmer Crab Cakes and Shark Bay Blue King Prawn Cakes, served quartered with a light chilli mayo. Catalanos Seafood were also dished up tasty oceanic treats. And Taste Budds Cooking Studio was lending a hand with the cooking duties, solid supporters of local produce.
On the sweeter side – there were some delicious baked goods, fresh turkish bread from Turkish Bakeries, divine toasted banana bread from Sweeter Banana and the Lighthouse Quickbread Cheese and Chive Base Mix, all baked up, showing how easy baking can be. Rawsome were also in attendance with some ‘healthy’ cakes and slices, their caramel slice is pretty delcious. Swan Valley Honey were offering samples of their various honeys, along with some honey lollies, which were a real crowd please. Then were were lovely samples of eggs from Golden Eggs, creamy yoghurt from the team at Mundella Foods, things got spicy with Whittington’s Spices and Jingilli EVOO is beautiful, fragrant olive oil. On the pre-packed front I loved the freshly packed salads from both Gourmet Selections, Greenfield Foods and Fresh Frontier and I hadn’t realised that Chutney Marys now did prepared meals, so handy!
I left feeing thoroughly inspired, so incredibly proud to be a West Aussie and reminded of the importance to keep an eye out for the Buy West Eat Best logo and support local! I think those mentioned above is just about everyone who was there, though if I did miss anyone’s stand I apologise. I had wanted to take the time to list them all out to help familiarise them in your memory as proudly West Australian. Then when you see them on the shelves or in the fridge or freezer you’ll know you are supporting local if you pop them in your trolley. Jacks makes that very easy now with the brand proudly displayed on the relevant products throughout the store, so well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Great to have you back on track Team Gascoyne. Let’s keep supporting our farmers. They do amazing work 🙂
Please note that I was invited to this event. But my views are my own. And my love for WA is forever.