ELIZA WOODThe Gallaugher Bequest Churchill Fellowship to learn how farmers of rare breed pigs and pork products can incorporate tourism into their businesses without compromising farm integrity and production - UK, Italy, Spain, France
My Churchill fellowship gave me a taste for adventure – something I’d been nervous about before. I’ve since travelled solo in south-east Asia and East Timor. In 2016 I am working on my story-telling skills, and have returned to ABC Radio as a rural reporter in Karratha, WA – 5,000km from home.
It’s a tough gig eating your way around Spain, Italy, France and England. But that’s what my 2012 Churchill Fellowship allowed me to do. I’d been farming free range pigs in Tasmania for a few years and I wanted to see how farmers in Europe were value-adding – not just by making sausages, but by inviting tourists to their farms too.
So I tried Parma ham in Italy, saucisson in France, Jamón ibérico in Spain, and Essex pork bangers in England. I stayed in agriturismo accommodation, went on farm tours, did on-farm cooking classes, and visited farm shops.
FELLOWSHIP CONCLUSIONS & OUTCOMES
When I returned to Tasmania, our business was finalising the plans for our on-farm butchery and commercial kitchen. It took a year to build (the powers to be in planning at a state and local level were challenged by the proposal) and opened officially in November 2014.
I started a weekend restaurant on the property offering dishes showcasing our meat, vegetables from the garden, and local cheeses and wines. We’ve held events such as a medieval feast, folk music with food from America’s south, and a French degustation.
Each weekend the visitors to the restaurant are shown around the farm and we talk to them about meat production, rare breeds, meat quality, and the farming lifestyle.