by Jessica McGrath
Unveiling some of the region’s best kept food secrets all under one roof is what the Farm 2 Fork Collective is all about.
The group officially opened its new shop at 39 Alexander Street, Wooroolin last weekend. It’s now a central place for small and local producers to showcase their goods.
Tastebuds will be tempted as around 25 producers already have their products on display in the store including peanuts, bacon jam, citrus products, relishes, black garlic, paddock to plate meat and infused honey, to mention a few.
Roberta Schablon, President of the Farm 2 Fork Collective Committee, said during the week of the official opening the group already had further enquiries from more local producers.
The store has wines from four different wineries and a selection of honey from three different honey producers.
During their official opening for the general public last Saturday 17 July, the store made more than expected, as many people took the opportunity to explore the new space.
Sponsors and supporters got a sneak peek the night before to celebrate the big achievement.
John Carey represented Stanwell, one of the Collective’s main sponsors at the VIP night.
“Who would have thought in the worst of the drought and Covid lockdowns here we are launching this brilliant initiative Farm 2 Fork,” Mr Carey said.
“What a great story that you’ve created for the region.”
Ms Schablon is passionate about the locavore movement, which promotes sourcing food from a 165km radius. As a chef she is dedicated to buying local produce and drives long distances to buy different types of produce in the South Burnett region.
The Farm 2 Fork idea emerged between committee members just 12 months ago after someone suggested to Ms Schablon that perhaps a shop, rather than a farmer’s market, might be a better central point for producers and consumers.
“This is to increase the accessibility of local produce for locals, tourists and everybody,” Ms Schablon said.
The Kingaroy Men’s Shed were strong supporters, making a lot of the furniture inside the store.
South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto congratulated the team on their ability to give the producers back some control.
“Farmers are often price takers, taking control of the market through this boutique process you can actually convert yourself into being a price maker,” he said.
“You can sense the amount of passion that you carry for this whole movement that you’ve created in our region with the Farm 2 Fork Collective.”
The store is strategically located in Wooroolin at the centre of the South Burnett region and conveniently along the Kingaroy to Kilkivan rail trail. The committee expects the Farm 2 Fork shop to be a popular spot for cycling tourists.
On 10 July the Taste the Trail tour group cycled along the rail trail, making stops in different towns for each course of their meal. They stopped in at Wooroolin to get their exclusive look of the Farm 2 Fork shop and taste some new flavours during morning tea.
Currently the shop is run by volunteers, but the team are keen to have one paid permanent position to manage the shop in the near future.
The Collective are currently working on a stamp of approval which will allow restaurants to show they have shopped at their store, supported a not-for-profit organisation and local farmers.
Looking to the future, there is the potential for Farm 2 Fork partnerships with bed and breakfast accommodations providing hampers of local produce.
“The ripple effect is what we want,” Ms Schablon said.
“If these businesses grow then the region grows.”
Read more on page 42.