Growth grant plan to develop future

15 Mar 2017 Mansfield Courier, Mansfield VIC (General News) by Rhyll Mccormack THE Victorian Government has provided a $30,000 grant to Mansfields gourmet food producers to commission a growth plan that will help them develop into the future. A project control group has already been established, and has appointed Mick and Rowena Ellis of Highview Partners to complete the plan. The Elliss, who own Long Lane Capers, have removed themselves from the gourmet group to alleviate any conflict of interest and will instead focus on how best to steer the growth of fellow producers from the area. The project control group is made up of Tin Shed Cider, Murphy Fresh Tomatos, Howes Creek Farm, Northern Slopes Plantation, Mansfield Coffee Merchant, Mansfield Farmers Markets, the Mansfield Shire Council and the Mansfield District Business Association. We have had a small producer group ticking along here informally for some time, Ms Ellis said. We have talked about wanting to formalise the group for some time, so that we can potentially buy in bulk and sell together this grant will be the catalyst for us to make it more official. Ms Ellis, as part of her work with Highview Partners, will consider ways to best get Mansfields products out to a wider audience whether that be through e-commerce, a joint cooperative, online stores or a farmgate based approach. As part of the growth plan, we will explore all the options available to Mansfield producers including the barriers they face, Ms Ellis said. Something like this has e been needed in Mansfield and the grant will really give us a chance to sit down and dedicate some time to see what , will most benefit growers from this area. Its about exploring what works best for others in a similar situation, and what would work best for us here in Mansfield. Some examples of other shires which are capitalising on the gourmet market include Beechworth, which has 12 local producers working out of an online store as well as a physical location. Daylesford Macedon Produce is another example of a local cooperative who, as a group, have won awards for their organically grown supplies as well as being listed in the 2017 Age Good Food Guide. We are thrilled to have received the grant, and cant wait to really start exploring all the different avenues available to us, Ms Ellis said. Continued page 2 Growth grant plan to develop future From page 1 Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) announced the grant last week and said the funds were part of the Labor Governments $20 million Food Source Victoria Program. The grant will drive private sector investment, boost jobs, improve productivity, provide a reliable supply of produce for Mansfield agri-tourism sector and create export opportunity for businesses, Ms Symes said. Were spoilt for choice when it comes to the quality produce in Mansfield this is about opening new doors for market access, tapping into niche industries and investing in the heart of our states North East. The first open meeting for the group will kick off tonight at the Coffee Merchant at 6.30pm. At the meeting, the Elliss will explain the growth plan in more depth and give small producers the opportunity to provide feedback, as well as make suggestions about topics that should be investigated. Over the next 12 months there will be a number of similar dinner meetings held, and anyone who is interested in Mansfields agri-tourism sector, in gourmet production or would simply like to stay informed should contact Ms Ellis by email to longlanecapers@bigpond. com. Caption Text: GRANT FOR FOODIES: Mansfields informal growers group has just been given a $30,000 government grant to investigate ways to promote the areas produce the growth plan will be completed by Highview Partners, owned by Mick and Rowena Ellis (pictured). PHOTOCREDIT: Greg Scullin, The Weekly Times Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence