It was all systems go in Western Australia during August, with FFS team members travelling west for a series of stakeholder meetings, including visits to Mt Lindesay and Melville Park farms, along with the delivery of a workshop with Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia (FIPWA) on New Product Development (NPD).
The main focus of the work trip was to build upon the foundations already laid for the 2024 FFS Summit, For Food’s Sake, and to further advance preparations for the event.
After an initial meeting with Food Technology Facility Chair, Dr Tash Teakle, in Busselton, the team travelled south towards Denmark to pay a visit to the McHenry Farm near Mt Lindesay. Run by Dr Mark McHenry, Dr Julia Anwar McHenry and Mark’s mother Pauline, the farm produces artichokes, truffles, kale, chilli, peaches, bananas and yacón.
The visit provided a great opportunity to receive updates on the FFS-backed ‘Artichoke’ and ‘Australian truffle’ projects from Dr McHenry and PhD student Mahesh Galappaththi, and to learn more about the science and processes used in the McHenry farming operation.
Following on from the McHenry farm, the team proceeded north to Brunswick, to the historic Melville Park farm. Operated by FFS Research Program 3 Deputy Lead, David Doepel, and his partner, Barbara Connell, the team at Melville Park produces heirloom vegetables and artisan cheese. In addition to this, the farm houses a small-batch distillery and herbarium.
The time spent at the farm gave the team a chance to discuss FFS research collaborations with Melville Park and Murdoch University, from soil microbiome interactions with tomatoes and potatoes, focusing on salinity and heat stress, to a project involving advanced microbial processing of wastewater from Melville Park’s artisan cheese factory.
Next stop: Mandurah
A major component of the WA visit was the Masterclass Workshop on new product development (NPD), co-hosted by FFS at the Food Technology Precinct Western Australia, aka FIPWA. Attended by 28 stakeholders consisting of food and beverage SMEs, government representatives and industry, the Masterclass Workshop was designed to provide participants with key insights and knowledge surrounding the development of a new product, including the thought processes behind design, the research involved in developing the product, and strategies for launch.
The workshop included presentations and group activities delivered by FFS CEO Dr James Krahe, FIPWA FM Dr Chris Vas and Murdoch University Marketing Lecturer Kenneth Yap, and a panel discussion facilitated by Stuart Johnson, Food Technology Facility CEO, with panellists Dr Shyamala Vishnumohan, Mei Wong and Nadia Coetzee. The feedback received from participants was resoundingly positive, with the Masterclass reportedly ‘exceeding the expectations’ of attendees.
To wrap up the visit, the FFS team toured the venue for the upcoming For Food’s Sake Summit: the Boola Katitjin building at Murdoch University – the largest timber structure in Western Australia and a bridge to the Aboriginal community. Boola Katitjin’s 180-metre length frame accommodates 21 large, flat-floor-format teaching and learning spaces and combines modern, sustainable design and digital technology to elicit the best possible student and guest experience. The building will provide the perfect atmosphere for Day 2 of the Summit and will be sure to impress attendees with its amazing facilities.
The final stop was a visit to the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) to meet with FFS project lead and ANPC Senior Researcher Dr Ruey-Leng Loo and get an overview of the research institute. Dr Loo showed the FFS team the advanced instruments used in the centre while discussing several research projects in progress at the ANPC, including the FFS-backed ‘Bioactive components for value-add to Australian artichokes’ project.
Lead image: The visiting FFS team on-farm in Western Australia. Credit: Future Food Systems