New directions at NRF…

Sep 03 2020

New directions at NRF…


Hello NRF members and friends – I’m Anne Briggs and I’ve started this week as Executive Officer. I am looking forward to working with you all again with new directions and strategies to help grow our local food industry.

Thank you Allison & Pam!

Firstly a great big shout out to Allison Henry who finished up as Executive Officer earlier this year. Allison worked in the role as Executive Officer for approximately 18 months and in that time kicked some big goals, including securing significant government funding for the next three years to help grow the food provenance of the region. Allison was also successful in securing another grant from the Australian Government that will specifically look at developing a food resilience plan for the local food industry, which will be rolled out later this year. Due to Alison’s hard work the NRF is now in a good position to provide a welcome new direction for members.

Also HUGE thanks on behalf of all members to Pam Brook who has been holding the fort the last few months as both Chair and Executive Officer. Pam has been chair since NRF started over a decade ago and has been the driving force behind NRF’s direction & success over the years. Needless to say Pam is a massive over-achiever and a super-trooper! Big thanks!!

And last but not least, acknowledgement and thanks to the whole brains trust of NRF – The Executive Committee and all the working volunteers who kindly and generously offer their time and resources, behind the scenes. It is what makes NRF an awesome force!

Over the last few months, the NRF Executive Committee has been working hard to develop strategies for this new era we find ourselves in and have come up with a strong plan for the future.

I am excited to be working with such an impressive team of industry leaders. Together we will focus our efforts on building the food provenance for the region which is all about telling your individual stories.

My background
For those who I haven’t met yet, here’s a little of my history:
I have worked in the role of Executive Officer for NRF previously (from 2015 – 2018) and have also been a member for the last couple of years while working as Executive Officer for the Australian Pecan Association. My tertiary studies over the years have included food science, nutrition & dietetics, marketing, communications, and management. I have 25+ years experience working with a range of food & horticulture industries in various marketing, communication and executive administration roles. I also have my own Grow Food & Agribusiness consulting business and understand the challenges of running your own small business.

What does “Northern Rivers Food” mean to you?
Part of the new era of NRF will be about building provenance for the region’s food. I’ve spent a bit of time recently pondering these new challenges and thinking about what it means to me and would love to hear your thoughts.

For me, Northern Rivers Food is synonymous with innovation, quality and freshness of food. There are many regions in Australia who produce quality sustainable food, but what makes our region’s food industry so special is the way producers connect and support each other in good times and bad, inspire each other to innovate and extend business practices and overall raise the standards for food production.

It also evokes the emotion of connection – a connection and pride in the natural beauty and abundance of our region and the food that is produced here. A connection to the sustainable regenerative agriculture practices of our small and diverse farms, to our innovative manufacturers, and to our exceptional food service sector that excite and inspire with their creations using our local produce. For me it also evokes a feeling of excitement for the future, because I know that there are endless opportunities for all of our food producers, manufacturers and food service to grow in this region.

Members are the best!
As a member based organisation, YOU are at the heart of everything that NRF does. For my part, I will always be guided by the question “what’s in it for the members?”. Starting out fresh, after a couple of years , I am keen to hear from you about what you think NRF should be offering you as a member. Are we living up to your expectations and if not, what would you like us to be offering to make it better?

I believe that one of NRF’s key strengths is that it has a well-connected whole supply chain membership base and it offers our local food industry a way to connect, develop and celebrate with others in the industry.

For starters, we will aim to offer NRF members COVID-safe ways of getting together to connect – perhaps with smaller, but more frequent and more local opportunities. Here are a few ideas in the pipeline, but I’m personally keen to hear your ideas:

Newsletters and social media
It’s at the heart of how we connect with each other in a busy world. NRF newsletters and social media will continue to provide regular easy, quick updates that help us all connect, so please keep sending us your snippets to share. We are always after news, short videos and updates from your business. Lorissa is on board working on social media program for NRF and we’re here to help connect our local food industry. The member only social media page will be a great way to connect instantly to our member base so if you have a question to throw out to the industry, just go for it…

Sharing our local stories
We have so much to celebrate in this region – so much talent, innovation and quality products and services produced by you our members. Let’s tell the world! Lorrisa our talented social media / content coordinator and I will be seeking your stories to share on our website and social media. Watch this space!

Informal get togethers: Introducing the coffee sessions
As we all know, it’s a bit tricky at the moment to run full-on events, but it’s probably never been more important to connect. So for starters, we will run small informal groups across the region, to offer an easy and social way to connect, over a cuppa. For starters, I’d like to trial informal coffee sessions in your hood. That means we could run small get togethers in Lismore, Ballina, Byron, Tweed, Kyogle and Yamba – wherever there is interest. I’d love to hear what you think about this idea and whether it’s something you’d be keen to participate in. Drop me a line and let me know your preferences…

Special interest groups
In the NRF community we have so much talent and a wide range of special interests areas. I’m interested to hear if you’d like special interest groups set up that could meet up informally from time to time e.g. a regenerative agriculture group, marketing & communications group, sustainability group etc. The groups’ purpose would not to organize events, but to talk and network, to cross pollinate ideas and provide connection for another tier of members and their staff.

Getting the right mix!
NRF has a history of running great events that help connect and engage members. The challenge is to get the right mix, in the right locations, with the right topics, timing, purpose and speakers. We will aim to run these both virtually and at member food service locations, as COVID- restrictions allow. I’d love to hear from you what you’d like in the mix…

Online webinars & workshops
COVID has shown us that webinars are also a great way to deliver information, education or training programs to members and it makes it easy for all geographic locations. Again, we have so much talent in our member base that it makes sense to harness this talent and share with members. I’d like to hear from you if there’s something you’d like to offer via a webinar?

We are not about doing all this on our own…we are a small admin team working part time hours. However we’re up for sharing the stage with our colleagues and friends in other community based business organisations. There is so much on offer, we’d like to help spread the word and not re-invent the wheel. I welcome organisations to contact us to chat about ways we can collaborate or at the very least, share what you’ve got on offer for the local food industry and we will spread the word!

Drop us a line!
We would love to hear from you. Here are some updated contacts:

Lorissa Barrett, Social Media Coordinator E: Note Lorissa works one day a week for NRF so best to send emails.

Anne Briggs, Executive Officer E: T: 0411 035 876. I’ll be in the NRF office Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

And our amazing Executive Committee:
• Chair – Pam Brook, Brookfarm & Cape Byron Distillery E:
• Treasurer – Marina Mangano, Keystone Private Byron Bay E:
• Secretary – Cam Hogan, Dollars Making Sense E:
• Georgina Inwood, Table Under a Tree
• Paul Wilson, Nimbin Valley Dairy
• Simon Stahl, Northern Co-operative Meat Company
• Mark Napper, Business Adviser

Thanks for reading to the end :)
I am looking forward to catching up with you soon!

Anne Briggs
Executive Officer
Northern Rivers Food

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