Farm 2 Fork Collective brings food to the table in style

9 September 2021

A unique social enterprise collective is connecting the South Burnett’s food producers, food manufacturers and consumers to deliver long-term benefits for the region – and we’re proud to be playing our part.

The social enterprise collective connects the South Burnett’s food producers, food manufacturers and their consumers in a unique way by bringing all three together under one roof.

Launched in July with the opening of a shop in Wooroolin, the collective has been riding on a tide of enthusiasm from a community hit hard by prolonged droughts.

President Roberta Schablon, a local chef, author and passionate locavore advocate, says producers are already seeing the benefits of being part of the collective.

“There have been so many wins to come out of this project, particularly for the producers. We have noticed that their sales are increasing,” she says.

The producers aren’t the only ones to benefit from the Farm 2 Fork Collective shop in Wooroolin. Roberta says the shop is buzzing with eager customers wanting to sample local produce.

“The consumer has also benefited from the space – the shop is inundated every Friday and Saturday. We get so much positive feedback saying how wonderful it is, and we know our money is going directly to the farmers. Customers want that local product, and that’s a big benefit in itself.”

Roberta says there are many smaller projects in the works. For a start, they are keen to begin operating farm tours as part of the experience for consumers and continue on the agritourism venture.

“We would like to showcase producers outside of the shop by running farm tours, where customers are picked up at the shop and taken on a tour of a farm that finishes with a long table lunch using food the farmers produce,” Roberta says.

“We hope that the ripple effect from the collective is that businesses and producers get stronger and need to create more jobs and employ more people.

“We want to educate people about supporting local, eating local and keeping money in the community, to keep your community alive.”

Stanwell have rallied behind the collective by providing support from the Tarong Community Partnership Fund.

Along with meeting the program’s funding criteria, the collective aligns with Stanwell’s focus on planning for the long-term, while adapting to challenges and opportunities along the way.

Farm 2 Fork Collective representatives worked closely with Stanwell’s Community Relations team to develop the funding application, ensuring that it clearly laid out how the project would help address an identified community need and support the group to deliver long-term benefits to the South Burnett.

The Tarong Community Partnership assessment panel, which includes community representatives, unanimously supported funding the project.

Stanwell EGM Energy Trading, Sophie Naughton, says a vital aspect of the project is building the economic resilience of the South Burnett’s food producers.

“The establishment of Farm 2 Fork Collective’s shared retail space is an innovative solution to bring together the community to deliver positive social, environmental and economic benefits for the South Burnett,” Sophie says.

The Farm 2 Fork Collective is open to manufacturers and producers in the form of a membership.

“The Collective works as a membership process. There are three membership levels; the essential level which is a local producer directory. The super membership which involves events and workshops, and the premium membership which includes everything in the other two memberships and shelf space in the shop,” Roberta says.

“If there are hobby farmers around who have excess produce, they don’t have to become a member but they can donate their proceeds directly back to The Collective to keep us open and running.”

Fun fact — the shelves pictured in this story were built by the Kingaroy Men’s Shed from timber donated to them by Tarong Power Station!