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• Cr Mark Edwards, Simone Jelley and Dave Tardent on the McDonald's Farm site.

The SMBI Local Food System is possibly a major step towards fruition thanks Redland City Councillor Mark Edwards.

The SMBI group has held a number of meetings under convenor Dave Tardent with a view to re-establishing the island food production industry.

In the early years of the Queensland and Brisbane colony in the mid to late 1800's, the islands were a major producer of fruit and vegetables.

The prime volcanic soils in many areas of the islands, along with good rainfall, were recognised for their bountiful fruit and vegetable production.

The industry died away in the first half of the 1900's as Brisbane and Queensland found more convenient areas of production.

Dave Tardent believes that the island could part re-create those halcyon days by developing a boutique garden industry, capitalising on the interest in quality organic food.

"The soils are still good and there is plenty of island space for private and community gardeners to get involved in good organic food production," he told The Friendly Bay Islander.

A number of meetings have been held with interested islanders with plenty of help and advice from leading market gardeners and organic food gurus.

Dave Tardent approached Cr Edwards in relation to any council owned areas that might be used for food production to 'trial' the new local food system.

Cr Edwards believes council may be open to a proposal to make available a section of McDonald's Farm to be used to get island food production underway.

Simone Jelley, who has already started a small food production operation, Pretty Produce, at her Macleay Island home and is involved in the Local Food System program, is willing to co-ordinate the McDonald's Farm project.

Simone comes from a food production family with history in the Stanthorpe area of Queensland.

The McDonald's Farm area is of good quality and was once a productive island farm.

"It would be a perfect site to develop a pilot program that could lead to a future commercial island garden."

"The site would be developed to showcase food types and directions, and would be used to show others how to go about sustainable organic food production," Simone said.

Dave Tardent said the possible offer of the McDonald's Farm site was a 'huge step forward' for the island Local Food System.

"After all, it is all about developing systems for future sustainable economic development for the islands," he said.



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