Paddock Talk | Episode 2 | #BuyTasmanianFirst
The second Paddock Talk webinar hosted by Belinda Hazel, chair of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture, included panellists - Massimo Mele from Grain of the Silos, Leah Galvin from Eat Well Tasmania, Andy Jackman from Red Cow Organics, Sam Wedgewood from Harvest Launceston and Lucinda Seymour from the Tamar Valley Business Association.
Paddock Talk is a way for rural women to continue to connect and network during this difficult time while we re-adjust to a greater online presence to reduce the spread and flatten the curve of COVID-19. The panellists interviewed during episode #2 talked about some of the issues seen in their respective settings and how they have made rapid adjustments to their businesses.
Massimo Mele opened up the conversation about the impacts of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry and how we can all support Tasmanian producers and business owners during this challenging time. Massimo is a first-class chef whose main focus is on produce traceability and building a greater relationship with the local food community. He described how it has been a difficult time to adjust to what is happening as everything has moved so quickly. After shutting the doors to the restaurant, Massimo said that there has been a lot of uncertainty as they have tried to adjust in other areas of their work and business. His main goal has been to stay positive; with his main focus being on continuing to cook good food and look after his family. He hopes that Tasmanians will continue to support local farmers and growers as we enter and area of uncertainty for the hospitality industry.
Leah Galvin strives to support Tasmanians to eat locally and seasonally. Leah is the state manager for Eat Well Tasmania and she is currently developing a project to make stronger connections between Tasmanian home-cooks and how all the fresh local produce can be sourced in a dynamic environment during this time dealing with COVID-19. A few weeks ago, Leah quickly realised that there was a rapid shift in how and where consumers were sourcing their food from, and that the Tasmanian people wanted to support and buy local. The demand for Tasmanian food has increased as Tasmanian consumers are making a bigger effort to source locally produced food.
Andy Jackman owns Red Cow Organics, an organic dairy farm and artisan cheese factory. Andy shared some of her insights into how she has adjusted her business model quickly in order to keep up with the changing times. Red Cow Organics now offers online delivery which she said has been inundated with orders and support from new and old customers. Although there is anxiety and stress around what the future looks like for a fine cheese factory in the current climate; there are opportunities for the business, for example, to incorporate new business models and explore different sale mechanisms to reconnect with old and new customers.
Launceston is a community farmers’ market that has always focused on supporting small businesses by fostering customer/consumer relationships. Sam Wedgewood, the President of Harvest Market, also agrees that there is uncertainty during this time as consumers look at new avenues to source their food from. This has ultimately opened up an online platform for Harvest Market with their main aim being to support primary producers with produce still being delivered on market day. Sam who is a business programs coordinator for Rural Business Tasmania, said that the online platform had to be developed rapidly to ensure produce was still accessible to consumers. Although Harvest Market are fortunate to have a good community following; they are also looking at expanding their online platform as they move forward and engage with the community in a different way.
Lucinda Seymour is not only owner of Moon Lily Kitchen and Cakes in Beaconsfield, she is also the president of the newly formed Tamar Valley Business Association. Lucinda gave us insight from a business owners perspective about the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry and how quickly things have moved from reducing numbers of people in the café to shop closures. Lucinda said that many businesses in her area have converted to online shopping and delivery to keep their businesses afloat. The association is currently looking at developing a ‘goodness box’ to sell local fresh seasonal produce from an online platform and letter box drops for the older community who don’t have the ability to connect online.
The main points discussed by our panellists during the second Paddock Talk webinar revolved around the rapid adjustments they have had to make to their businesses during this time dealing with COVID-19. The panellists interviewed have had to make structural changes to their businesses by developing an online presence in some form to stay connected with the community. They also opened up about their feelings towards the future and what it might look like for them. For Massimo it is staying positive and continuing to support our local producers; for Leah it is developing new ideas to enable consumers to access local produce; for Andy it is to continue making delicious boutique cheese and take this as an opportunity to look at her business differently; for Sam it is to continue to foster the loyal community following that Harvest Market has and expand the way they distribute their produce; and for Lucinda it is to connect with the community in new ways while continuing to support members.
Although it is a difficult time for everyone, we can conclude from the webinar that sudden change creates innovation, creativity and adaption.
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