The South Australian training fund driving our artisan produce revolution

By David Russell

Artisan food, wine and beer isn’t just gaining popularity in South Australia, it has become a full-blown culinary revolution. South Australians are demanding an unprecedented level of quality and variety in the products they consume.

The sea change is, to an extent, following a broader national and international trend towards boutique produce. But there seems to be something in the water in South Australia driving craft fare as a way of life.

What many of the most successful players in this new breed of taste innovators have in common is that they received a helping hand, in the form of formal training paid for by a little-known industry fund dedicated to encouraging excellence in the food and beverage industry.

The Food and Beverage Development Fund is a body whose sole purpose is to up-skill those working in the industry, or those wanting to take that first step towards a new career.

Executive Officer Carol Graham said the Fund provides $1000-$10,000 grants for successful recipients to undertake the training they need to help them survive within the industry.

“We’ve helped everyone from hobbyists with incredible skill that want to start a food or beverage business, to those within big businesses who want to further their careers,” she said.

“We fund the education costs, as well as the travel to the course, which can be quite inhibitive to people living in remote areas.

“We help people change their lives and pursue their passions… some of the ideas that have come from participants have blown me away.”

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The Smiling Samoyed range of beers.

The Fund has provided $600,000 in training to 138 recipients since 2006. Recipients include cheesemaker Kris Lloyd from Woodside Cheese Wrights, brewers Simon Dunstone and Kate Henning from Smiling Samoyed Brewery and chocolate and toffee maker Lynn Green from Geraldton Hill.

According to Ms Graham the Fund prefers training within South Australia where possible, but has sent recipients on courses interstate and overseas as well.

“It’s about finding the right people and providing them with the assistance to get the training they need.

“We hope to support enough passionate individuals to keep the sector successful for a very long time.

“My advice to applicants is to get the message across about who you are, how the training will help you and the future you see for yourself in the industry.

“Most importantly, try to get your passion down on the page.”

Applications for the next round of funding are now open. For information visit the Food and Beverage Development Fund website.