It was September 2017 when we first headed to Tasmania to start working with our first Tasmanian Artisan producers, Diane Rae and Nicole Gilliver from Grandvewe. The weather was extraordinarily cold with snow, wind and rain following us as we traversed across the state. We missed milking but had plenty of time in the warm sheds where the girls had decided to spend the day rather than go outside into the cold (the ewe’s not Diane and Nicole).
An hour of head scratches later, one ewe’s particular fondness for Kaleel Assassa had us trapped in the shed, we made it inside for coffee, with sheep’s milk of course, and long conversations about sustainable framing, Tasmania’s leading role in food innovation and the challenges producers faced getting products to mainland Australia.
We travelled around Tassie for a week meeting a great group of producers including Chris Reed of Diemen Pepper, Nicky Noonan at TasSaff and a number of small Tasmanian businesses that had just started working with the team at TasFoods. After overcoming logistic and freight challenges, we came home with a group of new partners and a range of unique high-quality artisan products from across the island.
Fast forward to May 2019 and we were once again in Tassie catching up with old friends and new. We travelled over 4000 kilometres from the top to the bottom of Tassie, and everywhere in between, meeting farmers, cheesemakers, growers, winemakers, fishers and manufacturers. Our time was also spent workshopping plans for managing supply and logistics during natural disasters and drought, the increasing need for transparency on animal husbandry, new product development opportunities and our commitment to a sustainable food supply.
Quickly our portfolio of Tasmanian producers had grown to twelve with a handful more working with us on plans to join us in partnership in Spring and Summer 2019.
Watch this space.
- Erica Goldfinch