The Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation (NBRF), in association with Country Noosa and Noosa & District Landcare convened a Stakeholder Symposium on Saturday 11 June in Pomona with a focus on establishing the region’s priorities and action plan for a Noosa & Region Agri-Hub.
It was a day of productive discussion and shared ideas with attendees first hearing from speakers on a range of topics before workshops commenced.
Speakers included Verity Morgan-Schmidt on policy advice or advocacy, University of the Sunshine Coast’s Professor Claudia Baldwin who spoke on the importance of data and various models, Rowan Rafferty from the NBRF discussed the value of resource sharing, Noosa Councillor Tom Wegener shared Noosa Shire’s Waste Strategy, and Jason Grant from Barnes Lane Farm in Coolum provided insights on pathways for produce.
Group facilitators led priority action workshops at individual tables to open up discussions about how to identify and connect with landholders and farmers, education, logistics and distribution as well as steps to formalise a social enterprise.
Facilitators included representatives such as Robert Perkins (Brisbane Food Connect), Nick Holliday (formally Australian Food Sovereignty), Elaine Bradley (Mary Valley Co-op) and Kamala Alister (Maple St Co-op), Mim McWilliam (FAN), and Bryant Ussher (Eastwell Farms).
While still in its consultation phase, it will be weeks before the outcomes from the Symposium are analysed, however Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation Chair, Rowan Rafferty is positive an Agri-Hub action plan will bring landholders and farmers together and provide pathways for young farmers and entrepreneurs to leverage food and agri-tourism opportunities.
“Connecting community, supporting agricultural enterprise, and building food resilience in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve and surrounding region are our top priorities,” he said.
“Once we have put all the responses together and sought feedback from participants, we will share the outcomes with the greater community.”
The Noosa & Region Agri-Hub initiative builds on the Noosa Hinterland Rural Enterprise Plan 2019, an extensive study initiated by Country Noosa to better understand rural activities and opportunities in the Noosa Shire.
The Rural Enterprise Plan identified eight key recommendations of which the Noosa & Region Agri-Hub program aims to further explore and activate.
The report highlights opportunities to increase carbon capture and storage and develop a circular economy that provides jobs and economic diversity.