By Ian Williams
Showcasing the outstanding food and wine of a place the size of the Eyre Peninsula is no easy task.
For a start, it’s bigger than England and Wales combined and the producers are located in remote towns dotted all over the place.
But when someone suggested the peninsula needed its own farmer’s market, Nerissa Schuster took up the challenge.
In the 12 years since Nerissa (pictured centre in headline image) has been the driving force behind a series of events that have drawn attention to the region’s flourishing food and wine sector.
Initially part of the Eyre Peninsula Fields Days at Cleve, A Taste of Eyre Peninsula has grown to become a popular festival for locals and visitors at towns across the region.
“After it was first suggested we have a market there wasn’t a huge amount of information about the local food sector on the Eyre Peninsula,” says Nerissa. “But when I started investigating the various producers I was surprised at just how many there were.”
Nerissa runs her own BAS agency bookkeeping business from Tumby Bay and started creating a database of producers as she travelled to towns across the region with her work.
As her expertise grew she also took on the role of food officer for the local Regional Development Australia board for a short period.
“Seafood and agriculture on the peninsula is massive but we also have a growing sector for everything from wine, honey, olives and smallgoods to condiments, fruit and nuts and baked goods,” says Nerissa.
A Taste of Eyre Peninsula has now become a regular feature of the biennial Cleve field days with stand-alone events at Coffin Bay and Streaky Bay held annually.
A food festival at Tumby Bay is also expected to become annual while one-off events are occasionally held in other towns.
“They’ve become a great fun day out for people to sample the local produce while enjoying some live music,” says Nerissa.
“The local wineries have a presence and we bring in some chefs who work with producers to cook up a feast.
“Coffin Bay regularly attracts up to 1,500 people – the town’s population is only 300 – and is now a twilight event in January. We’ve spaced out the other events around the year.”
The next one is scheduled for the Eyre Peninsula Field Days at Cleve on August 9-11.
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