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30 September, 2020

Meet the farmers named #eatqld Champions

The #eatqld champions are individuals that promote Queensland produce locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

By Candyce Grew RURAL LEADER EDITOR

Freckle Farm owners Rob Bauman and Deb McLucas.
Freckle Farm owners Rob Bauman and Deb McLucas.

OUTSTANDING individuals committed to delivering Queensland's top produce have been recognised in the Queensland Government's #eatqld campaign. 

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the #eatqld campaign encouraged the community to eat local, stay healthy and support jobs in the state’s agricultural sector.

“Our produce is second to none. We are urging everybody to explore Queensland-grown food and when you do, we ask that you take a photograph and share it online using the hashtag #eatqld,” Mr Furner said.

 “By eating Queensland-produced meat, seafood, fruit, nuts and veggies you support everybody that brings that food to your table.” 

A cut above the rest

Teys Australia Rockhampton general manager Wasantha Mudannayake has been named as a #eatqld Champion.

 Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke said Mr Mudannayake was a shining example of what could be achieved with a career in the agriculture and food processing sector.

 “From humble beginnings 30 years ago working nights as a floor cleaner at Teys Australia Beenleigh, Mr Mudannayake studied hard at university to further his professional development, rising to become general manager in 2006,” Mr O’Rourke said.

 “Mr Mudannayake now oversees the second biggest meat processing plant in Australia with an annual turnover of more than $620 million and employing more than 900 people.

“Mr Mudannayake is a passionate mentor who advocates for numerous traineeships, apprenticeships and multicultural opportunities in the workplace and also serves the community as a member of the Advance Rockhampton Board and the Queensland Government’s Manufacturing Ministerial Council.”  

Mr Mudannayake said being named a #eatqld Champion provided a great opportunity to promote the top-quality meat from what is widely regarded as Australia’s beef capital.

“I am proud to support local beef producers who continually rise to meet the various challenges thrown their way to deliver truly world-class products,” Mr Mudannayake said.

“Working for Teys Australia has given me a great insight into the quality of our locally produced beef and I encourage everyone to get behind our local producers.

“It has been a great privilege and honour to work for Teys family under the inspiring leadership of Brad Teys for close to 30 years which allows me to grow as a leader and contribute to the business and communities in Central Queensland.” 

Innovation delivers

Far North Queensland food delivery service Tablelands to Tabletop has been named an #eatqld Champion.

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said Tablelands to Tabletop had been chosen for their creative approach to delivering Atherton Tablelands produce to consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Angela Nason started Tablelands to Tabletop as a way to help her father sell his limes after restaurants, cafes, and businesses were closed down due to COVID-19,” Ms Lui said.

 “Harnessing the power of social media, Angela began selling boxes of limes as a healthy way to boost vitamin C but quickly saw her business grow as other farmers saw an opportunity to sell produce such as dragonfruit, coconuts and avocadoes rather than having it go to waste.”

“Tablelands to Tabletop now buys produce from 30 local Atherton Tablelands Farmers and delivers to customers on the Tablelands and Cairns, Karumba, Weipa, the Torres Strait, and local restaurants and cafes. Tablelands to Tabletop founder Angela Nason said being a #eatqld Champion was a natural fit for someone who had built their business using social media.

“The response I received to shouting out to my friends was central to the success of Tablelands to Tabletop so being a #eatqld Champion seems a perfect way to promote the wonderful produce of Atherton Tablelands farmers,” Ms Nason.

“We are blessed to have so much wonderful fresh food produced in this region and I am truly excited to be playing a part in seeing it get from the farm to the table.

“Healthy food is essential to a healthy body and mind and, in these very different times, doing something to promote our wonderfully delicious local produce while supporting local farmers seems like a perfect way to contribute to the community.” 

Sweet as honey

Leading South East Queensland boutique raw honey producers Natasha and Jason Roebig have been named an #eatqld Champion.

Member for Jordan Charis Mullen said Natasha and her husband Jason had been chosen for their passionate efforts to raise the profile of boutique Queensland raw honey throughout Queensland.

“As the founders of Bee All Natural, Natasha and Jason have enthusiastically supported new honey producers and ensured the honey is produced ethically and sustainably,” Ms Mullen said.

“Natasha and Jason are true innovators who have created their own fruit and spiced infused raw honey and creamed honey ranges using repurposed fruit to avoid waste and create alternative revenue streams for farmers.

“Additionally, they have created education platforms and social media groups to strengthen industry relationships and become respected mentors.

“Natasha and Jason’s passion for beekeeping and their innovative educational platform, ‘Inclusive Beekeepers Training Facility’, were recognised in 2019 when Natasha won the Queensland AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award.

“Being named our eleventh #eatqld Champion is sweet reward for Natasha and Jason whose tireless support of Queensland apiculture and agriculture will be invaluable as we unite and recover from the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Natasha and Jason join renowned chef Dominique Rizzo, Murgon winery Clovely Estate, Creek to Coast host Scott Hillier, Walkamin entrepreneur Krista Watkins, Bowen horticulturalist Carl Walker and Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s Executive Chef David Pugh as #eatqld Champions to promote Queensland’s world of flavour from the state of delicious.”

Natasha Roebig said being named an #eatqld Champion provided a wonderful opportunity to spotlight Queensland’s honey industry and our great state's food producers.

“Jason and I strongly believe that Queensland has some of the best honey producers in Australia and now is the time to bring this to everyone’s attention,” Mrs Roebig said.

“Whilst recent seasons have certainly been a challenge for beekeepers, we are one of the many honey producers across Queensland that prides ourselves on the pure product that our bees produce.

“Our business lives by our motto ‘Straight From The Beekeeper’ and, as an #eatqld Champion, we will promote our fabulous beekeepers and their terrific products to give consumers confidence in the provenance of our products and the industry.” 

A different approach

Mackay regenerative agriculture business Freckle Farm has been named an #eatqld Champion.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said Freckle Farm had been named a #eatqld Champion in recognition of its sustainable and ethical approach to farming.

“Since 2008, owners Rob Bauman and Deb McLucas have run their 265 hectare property near Eton using the principles of holistic management to benefit their animals and the environment,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“As fourth generation farmers, they have drawn on considerable experience and expertise to pioneer a chemical-free approach to farming that means the cattle, pigs and, chickens on their property graze on natural pastures.

“Their visionary approach has been recognised with a gold medal at the 2019 Australian Food Awards for their wood smoked ham, and, at the 2018 Australian Food Awards a bronze medal for their eggs, a gold medal for their bacon, and Best in Class for their branded pork.”

Freckle Farm owner Deb McLucas said being a #eatqld Champion would help them spread the benefits of sustainable farming practices.

“We believe very strongly in the principles of holistic management and work with the natural systems to achieve positive outcomes for our animals and our environment,” Ms McLucas said.

“By using tools such as biodynamics, rotational grazing and multi-species cropping, we are able to produce food which does not rely on artificial inputs and aids in the recovery of the environment and the local community.

“As a #eatqld Champion, we will be able highlight the benefits of sustainably produced food that will further enhance Queensland’s reputation for produce that is safe, healthy and delicious.”  

Vintage drop

South Burnett winery Clovely Estate has been named as an #eatqld Champion.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Clovely Estate has been chosen for its commitment to showcasing the distinctive flavours of the South Burnett region and the imagination and determination to grow its business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For more than 20 years, Clovely Wines has produced a range of red, white and sparkling wines that have become some of Queensland’s most-awarded wines,” Mr Furner said.

“And recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clovely Estate launched Forage Pantry Provisions at their City Cellar Door in Red Hill, Brisbane to support local growers, producers and suppliers.

“I congratulate Clovely Estate’s owners, Susan Mercer and Brett Heading, General Manager Aaron Stephan, Chief Winemaker Nick Pesudovs, and all their staff whose fine products and sense of community make them a terrific choice as our twelfth #eatqld Champion.”

Clovely Estate’s General Manager Aaron Stephan said being named a #eatqld Champion provided an opportunity to showcase the South Burnett’s fresh and delicious produce.

“We celebrate the South Burnett region and the best of local fare in everything we do,” Mr Stephan said.

“Clovely Estate is a place where we love to be and where our enthusiastic small team come together to plant, to grow, to nurture, to imagine, to harvest, to press, to bottle and cultivate a sense of community and village.

“Being named as a #eatqld Champion endorses our vision to unite with other producers and partners to promote the joy of unique local fare produced with passion.” 

#eatqld Champions

Previous #eatqld Champions include Creek to Coast host Scott Hillier, Walkamin entrepreneur Krista Watkins, Bowen horticulturalist Carl Walker, and the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s Executive Chef David Pugh. 

To nominate someone as an #eatqld Champion, email agriculture@ministerial.qld.gov.au

Tablelands to Tabletop's founder Angela Nason.
Tablelands to Tabletop's founder Angela Nason.

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