evokeAG 2024 takeaways: Sideline events

A flotilla of evokeAG sideline events ranged from bee-focused forays, a ‘Future Farm’ innovation showcase and whistlestop day tours of the state’s bucolic South West to a Women in Ag breakfast; a 12-nation agritech challenge; a statewide meet-up of WA’s various grower groups; a Sustainability and Innovation day; a CSIRO-hosted event explaining the national science organisation’s various agri-tech-related programs and more.

Not surprisingly, there was a veritable glut of food-and-drink-focused networking opportunities including a chi-chi drinks-and-canapes do at riverfront eatery Matilda Bay Restaurant to welcome a delegation of ag-tech innovators from the UK keen to market their wares Down Under, and ‘WA’s Regional BBQ’, evokeAG’s closing event at WA Museum Boola Bardip.

The latter, while a little light on actual food, was big on Indigenous culture and regional flavour. Highlights included a Welcome to Country complete with evocative song and dance and native-ingredient menu options including kangaroo, and a delicious sparkling concoction created by an innovative WA-based initiative, now in its eighth year, that offers vulnerable Indigenous youth a pathway to skills and jobs in the food sector. It’s a program that could productively engage with the educational and product-development opportunities afforded by the just-launched Sustainable Innovative Food Technology (SIFT) facility at the Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia (FIPWA), aka Mereny Bidi Booja, in WA’s Peel region, south of Perth, in which FFS is a supporting partner.

FIPWA entrance. Credit: Shire of Murray

The event was a chance to connect with food producers and innovative value-adders from eight distinctivee regions of WA, from the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions in the state’s northwest to the Goldfields-Esperance, Peel, Wheatbelt, Mid West, South West and Great Southern regions.

This staffer used the opportunity to meet movers and shakers from across the state, and to have a good chinwag with some potential project partners in and around the Peel region south of Fremantle, including Brewing Director John Gibbs from Peel region SME and FIPWA tenant Spinifex Brewing Co, which uses native plant ingredients in its distinctive boutique brews; and a local coffee-shop innovator who is adding powdered medicinal mushrooms to ceremonial cacao and selling the health-promoting mix for a premium at the Innovation Precinct’s on-site cafe.

Between bite-sized samples of foods featuring regional produce and sips of local wines, beers and spirits, FFS staff, students and participants mingled with producers, government reps and the odd researcher. It made for some productive networking – which is what this stuff is all about.

Lead image: The WA Museum’s Boola Bardip complex was the venue for evokeAG’s closing food-focused event, WA’s Regional BBQ. Credit: Future Food Systems