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    Wimmera Development Association chief executive Chris Sounness.

Association win for foodie experiences

By Michael Scalzo

A Wimmera and southern-Mallee food and tourism project aiming to strengthen links between tourism experiences and produce in the region has been given a leg-up. 

Wimmera Southern Mallee Food Experiences Project is part of a Wimmera Development Association initiative to ensure tourist trails in the region have strong connections with burgeoning food and drink producers in the region.

The State Government has given Wimmera Development Association a $64,500 grant for the project as part of a third stream of the government’s Small Scale and Craft Program. 



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The project will hope to integrate local producers into the Wimmera and southern Mallee’s tourism experiences by establishing a map of ‘destination’ farm stores and promoting farm-gate visits and regional producers’ own on-site outlets. 

Wimmera Development Association executive director Chris Sounness said the Wimmera and Southern Mallee was at the start of its foodie-tourism experience journey and the association’s project aimed to benefit producers, visitors and third-party retailers of local produce. 

“We are working to increase visitation in the food-experience space,” he said.

“While some other regions might be further along that journey and there is an easier opportunity for visitors to those regions to buy local product, we will get the Wimmera and southern Mallee there too.”  

Mr Sounness said the association would employ a two-part approach for the project. 

“We are trying to work with producers in the region to highlight their produce in a way that complements tourist trails we have, such as the silo-art trail,” he said.

“The idea is to integrate those experiences for visitors where they can indulge in tourist experiences as well as purchase the region’s product.” 

Mr Sounness said the second part of the project focused on working with businesses to support logistical challenges of getting the region’s produce to visitors. 

“Logistics can be a challenge for many businesses,” he said.

“So our aim here is to try to develop a more centralised point of distribution for our producers that will also benefit visitors and retailers.

“We want to increase the visibility of the product and it is best to manage how a producer’s product gets to the shops and in front of the eyes of visitors to ease the burden on all parties involved.”

The State Government’s third stream of its small-scale program grants distributed between $25,000 and $100,000 to eligible small-scale and craft agribusiness to support the relationship between producers and visitor experiences as part of a State Government 2030 agricultural strategy.

State Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford said she was proud to support the Wimmera and southern  Mallee’s hardworking and resilient small-scale and craft producers to create unique experiences which had the potential to attract visitors to the area and deliver flow-on benefits for jobs and tourism.

The entire May 4, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!