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From Plains to Plate: The Future of Food in South Australia

The Hawke Centre logoWednesday 10 February 2010

AUDIO recording now available here (mp3 format 30MB)


Jointly presented by the Friends of Earth Adelaide and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre

Friends of the Earth logoFood writer and former restaurateur Gay Bilson will lead a small panel, including permaculture farmer and educator Graham Brookman and community food systems expert Clare Nettle in the public opening of 'From Plains to Plate: the Future of Food in South Australia'.

From Plains to Plate is a convergence of ideas and skills from community, business and government focussed on strengthening South Australia's food systems in the face of intensifying environmental, social and economic challenges.

Like the best meals, the public forum and convergence will combine creativity, passion and skill with the freshest ideas for sustaining and growing South Australia's rich food legacy into the future.

For further information and bookings for other convergence events please contact Narelle Walker on 0432 982 213 or narelle.walker@foe.org.au.

Speaker biographies:

Gay Bilson was for 25 years (1973-1998) a restaurateur and cook in Sydney, centrally, as owner of Berowra Waters Inn for 18 years. She has created and directed several events centred on food and community, often for the Adelaide Festival, and was an associate director under Peter Sellars for this festival in 2002, producing programs such as Nourish (feeding patients in a large public hospital) and The Edible Library. In 2004 she directed Eating the City, a large community project created by the Spanish food artist and psychologist Alicia Rios, for the City of Melbourne. As an extension of this project, she recorded oral histories with the communities who took part.

In 2003 she was the recipient of an Asialink residency, spending 3 months in Sri Lanka studying its foodways.

She is the author of Plenty: Digressions on Food (Penguin 2004). Plenty won the Nita B. Kibble Prize for Women's Life Writing and was named The Age Book of the Year in 2005.

Her most recent book is On Digestion (Melbourne University Publishing, 2008), one of a series of essays in MUP's 'Little Books on Big Themes' series. In this extended essay she questions many of the assumptions we make about agriculture, produce and dining in Australia.

She is a frequent contributor to The Monthly and often writes for Australian Book Review.

Gay lives in rural South Australia, believing, with Cicero, that 'If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need,' except that, 2000 years later, she would add water and the internet to these requirements.


Graham Brookman is, with his wife Annemarie, co-creator of The Food Forest, a certified organic farm and learning centre established to test and demonstrate the permaculture design system for sustainable human occupation of the planet.

He has travelled and worked widely and had a long career with the University of Adelaide, where he still delivers guest lectures.

In winning the titles of Australia's 'Best Organic Producer' and the 'Leadership through sustainable industry' award in the South Australian Premier's Food Awards (twice) The Food Forest directs
attention to sustainability and food security.

Graham and Annemarie teach a range of short courses on their property including topics such as 'Organic Vegetable Growing', 'Orchard Design', 'Poultry Production', 'Permaculture Design',
'Water for Home and Garden' and 'Composting Toilet and Reedbed Systems'.

He writes occasional articles for such magazines as 'Organic Gardener' and undertakes consultancies for schools, individuals and organisations interested in designing sustainable homes, properties and

Graham is heavily involved in his local community through committee membership of the Regional Natural Resources Centre.

He is the founding Chairman of the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market.


Clare Nettle: Community garden advocate, community food systems consultant and researcher. Author, Growing Community: Starting and Nurturing Community Gardens (CANH, SA Health 2009),
described by an American Community Garden Network organiser as "maybe the best community gardening guide in the English speaking world".

Clare has been involved with running an organic food co-op for over 10 years.

Her research interests include community food systems, social movements, and community strategies for social and environmental change. She has an academic background including Masters research on organic food networks, and doctoral thesis on the Australian community gardening movement will be completed just after the Food Convergence.  She is also an executive member of the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network. www.communitygarden.org.au


While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our diversity - and building our future.