Quality on a plate

Jenne BrammerThe West Australian

A Perth-based event celebrating high-quality WA produce was held at the weekend, drawing crowds of thousands.

Organised by Farming Champions, the Farmer On Your Plate event, now in its third year, showcased the best of WA agriculture to people of all ages in Forrest Chase.

The event featured many free attractions including a petting zoo, face painting, fruit tastings and giveaways of more than 100kg of organic biodynamically farmed meat, cooked by top WA chefs, including WA Food Ambassador and chef Don Hancey, and chefs representing Lamont's and Fraser's restaurants.

Other highlights included a performance by the Royal Australian Navy Admiral's Own Big Band, and agricultural-inspired arts, such as the Provenance project, by Busselton artist Stephany Durack.

WA Governor Kerry Sanderson opened the event, describing it as a wonderful way to raise awareness of the importance of family farms.

She said WA farming families assured West Australians of the quality and freshness of WA foods such as meat, vegetables, fruit and freshwater seafood. "Families rely on all their customers to value their produce and to know it is a quality product that has been produced ethically, sustainably and professionally," she said.

"They need customers to be willing to pay a fair price and to value WA-grown produce."

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston, the first Agriculture Minister to attend the event during its three-year life, spoke of the many quality products produced in the State.

He said he welcomed the chance to celebrate the produce grown by the many committed and skilled farmers in WA and described the future of the industry as bright.

Mr Baston also spoke of the merits of the Buy West Eat Best campaign, which promoted locally-produced foods and supported local farmers.

Farming Champions chairman Mary Nenke, a Kukerin farmer and Cambinata Yabbies co-owner, urged individuals to champion farming in WA by reading labels and choosing WA produce, and questioning whether farmers were making a profit.

Other measures could include choosing agriculture as a career, choosing to work in rural WA and supporting agri-tourism, she said.

Mrs Nenke highlighted the challenges faced by farmers.

For instance, in the smaller communities the vast majority of children had to leave home at age 11 or 12 to be educated.

"And in rural communities, telecommunications and services are more expensive and less reliable," she said.

Farming Champions was established in 2013 by a group of leading rural woman, with the aim of bringing agricultural issues to the attention of all West Australians.

Many prominent West Australian people and organisations support Farming Champions, including former WA governor, Malcolm McCusker, Senior Australian of the Year 2014 Fred Chaney, Suzanne Daubney, of Bannister Downs, The Royal Agricultural Society, Country Women's Association and WA Farmers.

Sponsors of the event on the weekend included Rabobank, Dowerin Events Management, RSM Bird Cameron, Summit Fertilisers, City of Perth, Radio West, Lupins Australia, Bannister Downs, CBH, and Loose Leaf Lettuce Company.

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