Coffs Harbour’s collaborative approach to the agrifood industry

At the launch of the Coffs Agrifood Living Lab were City of Coffs Harbour’s Jennifer Torrance, Queensland University of Technology Professor Douglas Baker, Natural Evoluntion’s Krista Watkins, Future Food Systems’ Dr James Krahe, Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Paul Amos, QUT’s Dr Ozgur Dedehayir, QUT’s Jack Adams and City of Coffs Harbour’s Nicole McLennan. Photo: Future Food Systems.

NETWORKING opportunities and creating new connections were declared as two winning outcomes from the 60-plus stakeholders who attended the Coffs Agrifood Living Lab (CALL) launch at Yarrila Place on October 25.

Facilitated by the CALL project team, Dr Ozgur Dedehayir and Jack Adams from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the event provided a preview of what lies ahead for CALL.

The attendees represented a wide spectrum of the agrifood industry, including growers, producers, greengrocers and food and beverage manufacturers, along with government and research representatives.

This diversity fostered the exchange of expertise and gave rise to some fruitful discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing the sector and the region.

Luke McQuillan, Engagement Manager at the Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre told News Of The Area, “Launch attendees have provided feedback on how great it was to network with fellow industry stakeholders, to reignite existing relationships and to connect with new people/business representatives.

“The enthusiasm at the event was fantastic, with excitement in the area as to what the CALL project can bring to the region.”

In addition to learning about the project’s objectives and benefits from Nicole McLennan, Team Leader Industry Development, City of Coffs Harbour and Dr James Krahe from Future Food Systems, attendees were treated to a compelling keynote speech by Krista Watkins.

Awarded the prestigious title of Agrifutures Rural Woman of the Year in 2018, Krista Watkins is the co-founder and Managing Director of Natural Evolution, a thriving Australian company specialising in innovative products made from green banana flour and other surplus produce.

Krista shared her invaluable industry insights, emphasising the vital role of collaboration, innovation and community support in her and her husband Robert Watkins’ entrepreneurial journey.

With the box ticked on the launch event’s primary goal to inspire innovation within the region’s agrifood industry and help forge new partnerships, the project team is now gearing up to establish the foundation and framework for future collaborative activities.

The next steps for the partnership include a series of workshops, marketing campaigns and think tanks already in the works.

To find out more about the Coffs Agrifood Living Lab project or to be involved in CALL, contact


Attendees participating in a waste utilisation activity at the Coffs Agrifood Living Lab launch event. Photo: Future Food Systems.

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