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Regional Australia boasts a veritable feast for the taste buds. Arguably this is due to how close to the source the local purveyors live and work, but perhaps more so due to the passion for local produce echoed throughout these proud, hardworking communities.
Many thriving small businesses in regional Australia are foregoing typical fast-food shortcuts and instead locally-sourcing ingredients to create bespoke foodie products with mass appeal.
Access to a digital marketplace that spreads far beyond their loyal local communities is also allowing business owners in regional Australia to turn these passion projects into thriving enterprises.
The savvy duo behind Amber Drop Honey started their buzzing business with a very simple idea. How could they do their bit to help save the bees?
In recent years, bee numbers have been declining at a concerning rate, and Sven Stephan and Ana Martin originally intended to relocate one or two swarms that had set up in odd spots like electrical boxes or schools.
“But we started getting a lot of calls,” says Ana, “And after only four months we had 35 colonies and a lot of honey, so we decided to start selling it.”
In June and July this year, Ana and Sven used Facebook to help crowdfund their business and were met with an outpouring of support for their honey from their local community and beyond.
Not only do Amber Drop Honey sell locally-made, natural honey (including varieties like ginger honey) from 180 thriving hives, they do so with a conscience. Five percent of all Amber Drop Honey sales are donated to Save the Bees Australia.
Local produce made with a conscience is an idea shared by the team behind Bills Beans, an Orange-based coffee roastery founded by Bill and Lisa Parianos.
The team pride themselves on only sourcing ethically-sustainable coffee beans and work closely with coffee farmers to improve their quality of life in countries like Brazil.
Orange, a town renowned among Australians foodies for the fine cool climate wines and locally-made produce, was a perfect fit for the Bills Beans family, which has now grown to include cafes and espresso bars.
Bill and Lisa say they’ve been able to spread the Bills Beans story far and wide thanks to a strong social media presence.
“Facebook and Instagram have allowed us to target markets otherwise ineffectively serviceable due to large distances across western NSW,” Lisa says.
Andrew Schembri and Kelly Parrott, owners of Dickins’ Delights, say Facebook has also helped them grow their confectionery business in their home state of South Australia.
“Using Facebook has seen our business grow further into the community with more local support building each week,” Kelly says.
Dickins’ Delights have created a game-changing bacon jam, ideal for any cheeseboard this festive season. The recipe is full of flavour; think short cut bacon, caramelised onion, garlic, golden syrup, coffee and more.
The sweet team at Dickins’ Delights also create ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ butter toffee made from lightly-roasted South Australian grown almonds and farm-fresh macadamia nuts.
And does the team’s commitment to locally-sourced, high quality South Australian ingredients pay off? The reviews on Dickins’ Delights Facebook page speak for themselves.
“I buy these toffees for presents but they get eaten before I gift them,” Debra from Port MacDonnell wrote alongside a five-star review.
When it comes to sweet delights, Bendigo Brittle can relate to the same sort of supply-and-demand from fans of their delicious peanut brittle.
Established 18 months ago by Melbourne confectioner Greta Donaldson, Bendigo Brittle is a crunchy revival of a traditional favourite, handmade from high-quality local ingredients. Greta says she is overwhelmed with the support she’s received for her blossoming business, which started with a simple idea to create something personal for the family Christmas festivities.
“Facebook allows me to connect directly and share my stories with hundreds of people each week. I am also supported by other Bendigo and central Victorian businesses who share and like my posts, as well as create content around my brittle, which is so gratifying and rewarding.”
Stockmans Sticks, a Canberra-based beef jerky business, pride themselves on their handmade beef jerky created from grass-fed, local beef. It’s an ‘alternative to snack food’ with a conscience, says Mark and Michelle Wood, the founders of Stockmans Sticks.
“We have taken the time to research high quality local produce and take a hands-on and sustainable approach that allows us to minimise any potential wastage of materials,” Mark says.
The couple have been able to use their passion for local, made-with-love ingredients to take their small, Canberra-based family business to a much wider market using Facebook. And they’ve heard some fun stories from passionate Stockmans Sticks fans along the way.
“Wal Mioch, who purchased our product on line has taken our jerky on his trip to Kathmandu Nepal for a protein snack to help him with his hike up the Everest trek,” Michelle says.
“He sent us photos to put up on Facebook and Instagram to show his once in a lifetime journey.”
Green Harvest Gardening also champion a back-to-basics mantra, but take it one step further. Green Harvest sell organic gardening supplies for budding green thumbs to create their own fresh produce.
Jeff and Frances Michaels have been helping Australian home, school, market and community gardeners to grow food organically since 1992.
Based in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, a small, spread out community, has been no barrier to connecting to a global organic audience interested in perennial edible plants, Australian gardening books, hundreds of types of seed for organic growing of fruit, vegetables, flowers, sprouts, microgreens and more.
Facebook has been a valuable tool to build a community, spread awareness and educate people on the importance of Green Harvest’s sustainable approach to produce.
“We regularly post educational tips, images and shop offers regarding organic food growing,” says Jeff.
You can support small business this holiday season, and fill your stockings and tummies with delights like these, by checking out the Facebook & Instagram Annual Gift Guide.
This article is sponsored by Facebook.