MARKET LEADER: Rural Woman of the Year finalist Rebecca Barnes at her bush food stall, Playing With Fire, at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market.
MARKET LEADER: Rural Woman of the Year finalist Rebecca Barnes at her bush food stall, Playing With Fire, at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market. Kate O'Neill

Bush food industry champion

A PROJECT that could help realise the full potential of Australia's bush food industry has earned Mullumbimby Farmers Market stallholder Rebecca Barnes a place in the finals of the NSW-ACT Rural Women's Award.

Rebecca is one of four finalists in the running for the award, to be announced in Sydney next month.

Nominees were asked to submit a project idea that would benefit rural and regional Australia.

The winner receives a $10,000 bursary to bring their idea to life, with the runner-up receiving $5000 and other finalists receiving $1000 each.

Rebecca, who has been involved in the native food industry for almost 20 years and has run a stall at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market for the past five years, says her project idea is a two-day bush food conference to be held in Bundjalung country.

"What we really need is to attract new entrants into the industry. There's just not enough happening at the moment in cropping and growing.

"So the idea is to get the people who've been in the industry for quite a while to tell their story and hopefully attract some new entrants."

She said the conference would bring together people from throughout the country.

"The industry has had quite haphazard growth and it's rather disjointed in the way it's come about. There are people I've been dealing with for 15 years and never met because of the geographical distance.

"I'd really like to unite the industry, to get people helping each other and networking and making it all a bit more streamlined."

Ms Barnes said the potential for the bush food industry was enormous.

  • Find Rebecca's stall, Playing With Fire, at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday.

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