Eat more pork and help save our bacon

‘Get some pork on your fork’ is the famous line second-generation pig farmer Andrew Johnson needs South Aussie shoppers to hear now more than ever.

The owner of Mt Boothby Pastoral Company is standing in the middle of the stall-free, straw-based growing shelter, his livelihood snuffling at his boots.

At the centre of his 18,000-acre mixed farm enterprise in the small Murray Mallee service town of Tintinara, 40km from Keith, is a 1000 sow, farrow to finish operation, one of the state’s larger piggeries.

Andrew has spent most of his working life in Tintinara, his father establishing the piggery in the late 1970s as a way to diversify farm operations.

“I always knew I was going to be a farmer and pigs have always been a key part of what I love doing,” says Andrew, Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassador.

“They’re very intelligent animals and they’re very efficient, I have a lot of curiosity for them.”

Intelligent, yes. But SA pork quite literally brings home the bacon.

The state’s pork industry contributes $385 million to the SA economy, supporting almost 2500 full time local jobs and providing $188 million in household incomes for local families.

This is according to figures released earlier this year by Australian Pork Limited which also acknowledges that the pig production sector is more important in SA than in any other state.

Tintinara pig farmer and I Choose SA ambassador Andrew Johnson. Photo by James Knowler/JKTP.

Despite its prevalence to the local economy, the pork industry is currently stuck in a glut due to a downturn in prices, an oversupply of meat and increased feed grain prices.

Andrew believes the oversupply issues have been brought about by the industry becoming a victim of its own success, as pig producers nationwide undertook significant farm investments and some expansions, shooting up productivity.

“The pricing is depressed at the moment and it has been because of some oversupply issues,” Andrew says.

“Prior to now, we were in pretty good times and through these better times producers were investing in their infrastructure, making improvements and are now achieving better productivity out of their piggeries.”

To counteract the industry-wide struggles, the pork industry is committed to backing its own, with a number of initiatives rolling out to secure the wellbeing of farmers and their families.

Pork SA chair Mark McLean explained at a recent Brand South Australia agribusiness event how charity campaigns, farm support services, and choose local pushes were among efforts to help the industry bounce back.

“We are experiencing a downturn at the moment, there is no doubt about that. But the opportunity is what do you do, how do you respond?” he says.

“The first priority we identified was to support our people, to support our farmers, to help producers make decisions as early as possible by funding well-being counsellors and providing pork industry specialist support to rural financial counsellors.”

In addition, Pork SA’s charity campaign involves donations of pork products to Catherine House in Adelaide, Foodbank and The Hutt Street Centre. The initiative not only helps those less fortunate but further spreads the important message about the need for households to consume more locally grown pork.

South Aussie shoppers will also play a part in giving the industry a leg-up, as households are urged to not only choose Australian pork, but eat more of it.

Andrew Johnson’s sons Will, 10, and Eddie, 11, on the farm at Tintinara. Photo by James Knowler/JKTP.

Consumers should look for the bright pink Australian Pork logo on packaging to ensure the product is grown by Aussie pig farmers.

Mark encourages shoppers to also keep an eye out for country of origin labelling and only purchase pork products made from 90% or more Australian ingredients.

“If it doesn’t have more than 90% on that barcode, it’s probably not Australian, it’s probably the saline, the water, it might even be the packaging.”

Back on the farm at Tintinara, Andrew Johnson echoes the same sentiments.

Consumers backing Aussie pork means that not only will his two young sons have a solid chance at taking over the family farm in coming decades, but it also means something for the 15 full time team members currently employed by the business.

“Our business is very important locally, it’s one of the major employers along with Thomas Foods International feedlot up the road,” Andrew says.

“The economic impact per sow is about $3000 back into the community, so that gives you an idea about what impact it has. The pig industry is incredibly important in our regions.”

But like all Aussie farmers, pork producers are resilient and Andrew is quick to point out the many strengths of the industry.

“The pig industry has always been very forward and I’m very proud of it. About eight years ago we decided voluntarily as an industry to phase out the use of sow stalls and that was a first in the world,” he says.

“Over 90% of our industry is quality assured to ensure food safety, welfare and environmental regulations are adhered to.”

Andrew also speaks highly of the industry’s forward-thinking approaches to genetic improvements and bio energy production.

In 2004 he took research into his own hands when he won a Nuffield Scholarship to study sow welfare, disease management, electronic identification and sow housing. He subsequently became chairman of Nuffield Australia and a director of Nuffield International, having completed both roles recently.

Tintinara pig farmer Andrew Johnson urges shoppers to choose Australian grown pork products. Photo by James Knowler/JKTP.

Other strengths of the state’s pork industry includes our processing facilities. Every week about 22,000 ‘baconer’ pigs are sent to either JBS at Port Wakefield or Big River Pork at Murray Bridge, two of the nation’s largest pork abattoirs. The majority of Australian pork is sold to the domestic market, with some entering Singapore and New Zealand.

Despite the challenges, Andrew is confident about the future of SA’s pig industry and the state’s agriculture sector as a whole.

He says employment opportunities are in abundance in most regional towns, but admits the next challenge is encouraging more people to choose to live and work in country areas.

As a keen supporter of the rural town’s sporting clubs, he says Tintinara and its humble population of 527 will always be home.

“I love livestock and animals, country areas and the people in them, I love my community,” Andrew says.

“I couldn’t see myself anywhere else, it’s a great place to be.”

Industry in focus: Agribusiness

Throughout the month of October, the state’s agribusiness industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian farmers, producers, agricultural researchers and biosecurity workers are the lifeblood of our country communities and are big players in the state’s overall economic welfare. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide Zoo reveals plans for $1.1m Variety Children’s Zoo

The next generation of conversationists will be able to experience the wonder of the natural world when Adelaide Zoo develops a new $1.1 million children’s zoo in 2019.

Zoos SA has unveiled plans for the immersive and interactive Variety Children’s Zoo that will be connected to the existing and ever-popular Nature’s Playground, an area where kids can explore nature-inspired spaces including water features, a natural creek bed and aerial walkways.

Construction of the new children’s zoo will be developed in partnership with children’s charity Variety SA, and will begin in 2019.

Quokkas, critically endangered bettongs, goats and other creatures will move from the existing children’s zoo to the new space near the zoo entrance.

The area as it currently stands.

The new development will feature balance beams and ladders for goats, climbing branches for quokkas, a dedicated presentation area for keepers to host educational talks and aerial walkways connecting to Nature’s Playground.

Zoos SA CEO and I Choose SA ambassador Elaine Bensted says the new Variety Children’s Zoo will help encourage and develop the next generation of conservationists, no matter their ability.

“Our vision for the Variety Children’s Zoo is to help kids get hands on as they learn and connect with wildlife, and in doing so develop a strong passion for conservation,” she says.

“The Variety Children’s Zoo will be a continuation of Nature’s Playground – making Adelaide Zoo the number one destination for the kids of South Australia and their families.

“When finalising the plans, we ensured we had an equal balance between animal welfare, unique facilities, exciting animal encounters, and educational yet magical moments for visitors to experience.”

An artist’s impression of the newly developed Variety Children’s Zoo.

Variety SA CEO Mark McGill says the charity is proud to again partner with the zoo to bring the next stage of children’s play development to life.

“Variety is enormously proud to have opened the doors of the Adelaide Zoo to more children who are sick, disadvantaged or who have special needs,” he says.

“These children have enjoyed the freedom and inclusiveness of the all abilities Nature’s Playground, proudly supported by Variety, and these wonderful outcomes will only be expanded with the development of the Variety Children’s Zoo.”

The public will have a chance to become the face of the new children’s zoo, with a large art installation taking centre stage in the area. For $50 people can purchase a tile with their photo to remain at the zoo into the future.

Barmera’s Crossfield Cottage a lingering love story

Visitors to a Barmera bed and breakfast in South Australia’s Riverland can step back into the days of post-WWI settlement as well as learn about a 1970s love story, which lasted almost four decades.

Owners of Crossfield Cottage Mark and Carolyn Huckel purchased the tired old 1920s property in January 2015 and spent two years renovating the humble abode.

“We had always wanted to create a B&B, but we had never found the right place or location,” Carolyn says.

This dream became a reality when Mark discovered the old Barmera cottage, which was the childhood home of his friend, David Crossfield.

David’s parents, John and Margaret, bought the property in 1976 and was the first and only home the couple ever owned. Margaret died in 2006 and John in 2013.

The renovated cottage provides old world character and charm and showcases local produce.

The Huckels first expressed interest in buying the property from David and his sister Emma, when they were helping them sort through things in the home, after their father’s death.

“Two years later they came back to us and said we are going to be ready to sell in six months, are you interested?” Mark says.

The Huckels saw great potential in the property, set among a picturesque country landscape surrounded by vineyards, fruit orchards and natural bush.

The house was originally built to accommodate WWI veteran Thomas Bawden and his wife Rachel.

Its original stove has been saved and used by the Huckels in the outdoor area, while the white baltic pine floorboards inside the home were also spared.

A coal heater and Margaret Crossfield’s dressing table are key features in the front bedroom.

Items dating back to the 1920s such as vintage telephones, farming tools, kitchen scales and replica war medals are also on display in the lounge room, presenting a glimpse at a bygone era.

Thomas died in 1964 and the house was then purchased by its second owners, another WW1 veteran Albert Jones and his wife, Alice.

The Crossfields were then the third owners of the property and lived there for four decades, so the B&B still features a number of items which belonged to them.

Much of the Crossfield’s original kitchen and cupboards have also been preserved.

A coal heater and wooden dressing table are prominent features in the front bedroom and the triangle she used to summon her family to meals hangs proudly in the entertaining area outside.

Many of the flowers Margaret Crossfield loved are still grown in the garden and some older residents who are familiar with the species have also given bulbs for the Huckels to plant.

The original wood stove has been placed in the outdoor area as a show piece.

It is evident the couples’ love for each other was strong, for example in the lounge room where the Crossfield’s favourite courting song, The Seven Daffodils is recognised with a painting by Jamahl Pollard, a talented Riverland artist with impaired vision.

Guests can read the words of the song in the Crossfield Cottage history book inside the B&B.

Many Barmera locals who knew the Crossfields have embraced the renovation of the cottage and property.

The B&B was finally opened by the Huckels in March 2017, after many months of hard work, with Mark Huckel saying the encouragement they received from friends and locals kept them committed to the project.

The Huckels endeavour to ensure the products at their B&B are from the Riverland or other parts of SA if they aren’t available locally.

This includes Riverland wine, dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit and meat from a local butcher.

“Our aim is to enable guests to stay in a cottage featuring character, charm and a dash of luxury and enjoy our beautiful region,” Carolyn Huckel adds.

Header photo features Crossfield Cottage owners Mark and Carolyn Huckel.

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Riverland almonds – but not as we know them

Jarrad and Jackie Casaretto realised it would take a special product to radically rethink their approach to almond farming in South Australia’s Riverland.

They think they’ve found it with almond butter – a full-flavoured paste that is quickly winning favour in the United States and around the world as a nutritious health food.

Jarrad was quick to spot this emerging trend and thought they should act fast to get on board now. It meant seizing control of their commercial destiny by becoming a secondary producer – launching and controlling their own brand called The Almond Farmer, rather than just being a bulk provider of the primary ingredient.

The Almond Farmer range now comprises jars filled with three types of almond butter (plain, chocolate, and date with chia), along with packets of raw and roasted almonds, ground almond meal, and pure almond oil as a skin care product. And despite launching the brand with scant resources, it has quickly gained traction in the market through direct sales.

Chocolate almond butter on bruschetta, topped with fig, banana and raspberries.

“The first thing I did was start up a Facebook page, and that got the word out to consumers that we were doing something different,” Jackie says. “We’ve approached this from the point of figuring out what the market wants, and then re-shaping what we do to make our almonds connect with those interests.”

This represented a big shift in how almond farmers have traditionally operated in Australia, but the Casarettos felt it was a necessary step.

Having originally come from urban jobs in Queensland, Jarrad and Jackie embraced the idea of joining Jarrad’s parents, Pam and Dennis Casaretto at Taylorville (near Waikerie) in the Riverland, to expand on their retirement hobby farm by harvesting more almonds.

When a second almond property became available in the region during 2012, Jarrad and Jackie agreed to buy it and shifted from QLD.

“We said yes because we wanted a life outdoors rather than being in the city,” says Jackie. “We love food and thought this would be a great way of getting involved in the best produce.”

The almond orchard in blossom.

However, the envisaged idyllic rural lifestyle didn’t unfold as easily as they planned, so they re-thought how to best run their combined almond farms, drawing on their previous employment skills in business management and marketing. They focused on producing specialised items that could fill a high-revenue niche.

“It was a case of looking at other businesses seizing opportunities with niche products in other markets, and thinking ‘why aren’t we doing that?’ We had to look at our farm and its produce through a different business prism,” Jackie says.

“We saw an opportunity to take a unique niche product to market through direct sales – which is not how things are usually done in Australian farms.”

It took a lot of trial and error for The Almond Farmer products to take shape – after planting and nurturing a host of different almond varieties, then figuring what is the best application for each variety according to its oil content. But perseverance has paid off in the case of perfecting almond butter.

Jackie Casaretto and her husband Jarrad swapped their urban careers in Queensland for life on the land in the Murray and Mallee region.

“All nut spreads are now growing in popularity, and we’re seeing that in the emerging health food scene, a product such as pure almond butter makes clear sense to consumers,” Jackie says.

“It makes good sense among the health-conscious mums, in particular. We’ve had so many enquiries from mums with kids suffering allergies, looking for almond products that have not been in contact with any other nuts. Because we process all our almonds on our farm and there’s no risk of cross-contamination with other nuts, they’re relieved to find a product that’s reliable.”

Some food market pundits are wondering whether this product can explode into the public consciousness and enjoy a similar commercial boon as Nutella. The Casarettos hope so but know the mainstream market now has to embrace the quality and purity of what they are providing.

Every almond orchard needs a four-legged helper.

“It is more expensive because of the cost of using only highest-quality ingredients, and not bulking it up with cheap fillers. Therefore, almond butter is a treat full of nutrients and not just packed with sugar,” Jackie says.

“Our products plug into a lot of what we believe. Our family is passionate about sustainability, the authenticity of Australian-grown food, and promoting a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle. Our Almond Farmer goods are a perfect fit.”

While The Almond Farmer’s strength is through its website sales, the Casarettos are in discussion with distributors, and some products are already being stocked by Adelaide food specialty stores such as Tony & Mark’s.

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And the 2018 Regional Showcase winners are …

Our Top 15 finalists were an impressive bunch. Now the votes are in and the winners of Brand South Australia’s Regional Showcase program have been announced.

The Tumby Bay Progress Association took home the People’s Choice Award for its efforts in transforming the Eyre Peninsula seaside town’s stunning silo mural.

Another volunteer-run community group, the Brinkworth Progress Association, won the Community Award for its hard work in recent years to improve facilities in the quiet Mid North town.

The Business Award went to Eyre Peninsula power service company Cowell Electric, a bust to boom company employing more than 100 people across its Cowell and Olympic Dam sites.

Individual success stories from across regional SA were celebrated at Brand South Australia’s annual statewide celebration evening on October 26 at one of the state’s hottest new attractions, the multimillion-dollar Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend.

The Tumby Bay art silos. Photo by Robert Lang Photography.

The remaining 12 finalists were also celebrated for their achievements in business success, innovation, and community spirit.

More than 200 people travelled to Tailem Bend from all corners of the state, including the Riverland, APY Lands, Adelaide Hills, Mid North and Eyre Peninsula.

Finalists included Port Augusta business Max Cranes, inspiring Limestone Coast restauranteur and Afghan refugee Hafeezullah Haidari, and outback ambulance volunteer Susan Pearl from historic mining town Blinman. Click here to read the Top 15 stories.

“I’d like to thank everyone who was involved, including the nominees, our team of journalists, the finalists and winners as well as the general public for reading the stories and voting,” says Brand South Australia CEO Karen Raffen.

“Of course, this special program would not be possible without the support of the councils, sponsors and each of our partners, in particular, our major partner and sponsor Primary Industries and Regions SA.”

Red earth and blue skies at Cowell Electric’s Olympic Dam site.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetstone, congratulates all winners and finalists.

“The stories of this year’s showcase program have really reflected the vital role that our regions play in the state’s economy and wellbeing,” he says.

“There are so many positive stories to uncover throughout SA, and the Regional Showcase does just that – sharing and celebrating the achievements of our regions across the state, and the world.”

ABC radio presenter Spence Denny hosted the evening. The three winners were awarded the iconic glass pear trophies which are synonymous with regional excellence and endeavour.

Brinkworth Progress Association members lay engraved pavers in time for the town’s 125th anniversary.

Community Award – Brinkworth Progress Association

This local community group is a prime example of volunteers working together for the better of their people.

The Brinkworth Progress Association in the Mid North has worked hard in recent years to beautify the town, raising money for the upgrade of visitor amenities, attractions, camping groups and walking trails.

Brinkworth has suffered a population drain in 2011, with local numbers dropping from 401 in 2006 to just 188 in 2011. But it crept back up in 2016 with 285. Could it be the efforts of local volunteers drawing people back in?

Business Award – Cowell Electric

This Eyre Peninsula business manages power stations and distribution networks, providing 2400 customers in 13 remote towns with electricity.

The business was formerly run by managing director Sue Chase who is stepping down and handing the Cowell Electric reigns to fellow regional company Ahrens.

Cowell Electric has overcome economic hardship in the past, as it faced liquidation in 2000 until Sue stepped in and steered a huge turnaround.

People’s Choice Award – Tumby Bay Progress Association

Earlier this year Tumby Bay unveiled its stunning artwork painted on the town’s giant grain silos.

The Tumby Bay Progress Association ran the project which has since become a major tourist attraction.

Painted by Argentinean artist Martin Ron over five weeks, the artwork joins a number of other works that have popped up on silos across country SA and Victoria.


HOLD UP! That’s not it for Regional Showcase. We’re always on the hunt for a good yarn, regional success stories and examples of country folk going above and beyond for their community.

Submit a story idea for the 2019 Regional Showcase, and give an individual, business or organisation the recognition they deserve.

Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories are made possible by:

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UK exchange employee to learn from South Australian agriculture

One of South Australia’s leading regional grain marketers and agribusiness consultancies is helping local farmers to better manage seasonal challenges by introducing an international insight into the business.

Rural Directions based in Clare in the state’s Mid North has begun an international exchange program, welcoming 26-year-old consultant George Lane all the way from Leicestershire, England.

George, who works for the UK-based Brown & Co, has arrived in SA for four weeks to work with Rural Directions across the state’s prime cropping and grazing regions.

Rural Directions has been around since 1997 in aim of helping local farmers adapt to technology, implement advanced management systems, and give advice and analysis on particular situations or opportunities.

Their work includes liaising with farm businesses to increase income and reduce costs, save time, make sound investment decisions, give independent agronomic advice, and to help advance industry development.

Brown & Co UK employee George Lane, left, with Rural Directions managing director David Heinjus.

Rural Directions operations manager Brenton Greenslade says the employee exchange, a first between the Clare business and Brown & Co, will be reciprocated in 2019 when a Rural Directions employee travels to the UK.

“It’s an opportunity for our employees to gain an outside view on how things are done and then be able to bring it back and apply it for the benefit of our clients here in Australia,” he says.

Delivering a different perspective and learning how local farmers are dealing with current drought conditions are just a couple of outcomes expected by George.

“I’m really hoping to see another perspective to how people approach and deal with agricultural businesses, along with how they deal with the challenges which they face such as drought,” he says.

“I have experience in a lot of similar areas that Rural Directions specialises in, hopefully I can bring something new to the table or even spark new thoughts and ideas.”

Rural Directions employees Carlyn Sherrif and Natasha Searle.

Rural Directions also has offices in Freeling in the Lower Light, Loxton in the Riverland and Naracoorte in the South East, as well as an office in Dubbo, New South Wales.

Agribusiness consultant Patrick Redden says Rural Directions delivers advice for about 10% of the state’s crop.

“Rural Directions exists to add value to our clients, who are individual family farming businesses, those within the corporate ag sector, and industry groups like Grains Research and Development Corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation and Dairy Australia,” he says.

“It’s about helping families to grow and develop their business to increase profitability and sustainability, while identifying opportunities for the future.”

Much of Rural Directions’ current work involves helping growers through current climate challenges, such as drought and frosts.

Rural Directions’ Simon Voigt. The business also consults with livestock farmers as well as crop and pastoral farmers.

Some parts of Australia are in the grip of a drought or are affected by it, creating less than average production and bringing drought-related stress to farmers and their families.

Patrick says Rural Directions helps keep mindsets positive and helps clients to focus on factors within their control.

“We can be a sounding board with independent views on these stressful decisions such as do they leave a crop for grain or cut it for hay?

“When we work with a business and support the client, we are helping to remove the emotion from it and having a clear-headed approach.”

With 23 employees based across Rural Directions’ five offices, Patrick says there is potential for further growth in the business, with two new graduate employees starting soon.

Header photo features Rural Directions employees Brendan Wallis, Brenton Greenslade and Tony Craddock.

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Industry in focus: Agribusiness

Throughout the month of October, the state’s agribusiness industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian farmers, producers, agricultural researchers and biosecurity workers are the lifeblood of our country communities and are big players in the state’s overall economic welfare. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Untold migrant stories reawakened on Port Pirie stage

The stories of Greek, Cypriot and Italian migrants post WWII will be brought to life on the stage for what will be the State Theatre Company’s first regional premiere.

South Australian actor, playwright and Greek Cypriot descendant Elena Carapetis is reigniting the oral histories of migrants in Port Pirie, where her grandparents settled and she spent her childhood.

Historical fiction The Gods of Strangers will in November have its world premiere in the seaport town, home to many Greek and Italian migrants who settled in SA from their homelands after WWII.

Elena is State Theatre Company’s artist in residence and so when she was approached by director Geordie Brookman to write a play about the country, she knew instantly she was set for a trip down memory lane.

“He said do you want to write a show about the country, and I said ‘yes!’. Immediately before I had even thought about it, I just said instinctively that it will have to be set in Pirie and it would probably be based on my family history,” she says.

“He said ‘great’, and that’s how it all started.”

Dina Panozzo in The Gods of Strangers. Photo by Tash McCammon.

Elena explored her own family’s history to create The Gods of Strangers, featuring Dina Panozzo, Renato Musolino and Eugenia Fragos, and presented in association with Country Arts SA and Playwriting Australia.

The play is the result of a major commission through the Regional Theatre Strategy, which is the basis of a four-year partnership between Country Arts SA and State Theatre Company.

Set in 1947, the performance explores the untold stories and challenges faced by Greek, Cypriot and Italian migrants, with Elena dedicating the work to her grandparents, Yianni and Eleni Carapetis.

It will be performed in three languages, English, Italian and Greek and also in Auslan for the benefit of the deaf community.

“When my family and other Greek and Italian people come to see this show, I think it’s going to be the first time that many people have seen their own language and culture reflected back,” Elena says.

“More often than not women aren’t featured in the centre of stories, they’re instead connected to being someone’s mother or wife.

“I’ve basically done everything that people don’t expect to see; two protagonists who are women, over the age of 50 and English is their second language.”

The Gods of Strangers tells the tale of two migrant women who answer a knock at their doors by a stranger.

Photo by Sia Duff.

“At the heart of Greek and I think very much so Italian culture, is this idea of the meaning behind the Greek word ‘filotimo’, which means the hospitality and love you show to a stranger,” Elena says.

“It goes back to ancient Greek times when the gods would disguise themselves as humans and come to Earth to test humans, even if a beggar was at your door you’d let them in because they might be a god in disguise.

“These two women let these strangers into the house and it’s about what happens when these new forces collide with their lives.”

Elena researched for months Greek, Cypriot and Italian settlement in Port Pirie, visiting the region to reconnect with locals and hear their stories. She also visited libraries and spoke with academics to learn about what life was like in regional SA post WWII.

The play is also inspired by the stories of her own grandparents, including her grandmother who came to Australia as a young woman, set to marry a man she had never met, but only seen in a photo.

“With Greek culture, and with my grandma, she was sent a photo of a man she had never met, he paid for her passage, she got on a ship and came to Australia to marry him,” Elena says.

“But when my grandma got here, the man wasn’t the same man as the one in the photo, so she basically said, ‘I’m not marrying you’, which was huge.”

Elena Carapetis reflected on her family’s history for her latest work, The Gods of Strangers. Photo by Sia Duff.

Eventually Elena’s grandmother married neither the mystery man in the photo or the man waiting for her at the altar, but instead fell for the man who lived next door to her best friend.

Elena says The Gods of Strangers honours the sacrifices made by the women in her family.

Born in Whyalla, Elena grew up in Port Pirie before moving to Adelaide towards the end  of her primary school years.

After high school she studied drama at the University of Adelaide before being accepted into Australia’s leading drama school NIDA in Sydney, at a time when acting royalty Cate Blanchett had graduated two years prior.

After NIDA, Elena scored theatre and TV gigs before landing a role on Aussie drama Heartbreak High.

She spent 12 years in Sydney, moving back to Adelaide in 2003 “just check in with family”.

But Elena ended up staying in SA, employed by the State Theatre Company and cementing herself on the local stage as well as teaching at the Adelaide College of the Arts and Flinders University.

“What has kept me here is my family and the lifestyle,” Elena says.

“I’ve made some really beautiful connections with people here, they’re like my art family.”

The Gods of Strangers will premiere at Port Pirie’s Northern Festival Centre on November 9 and 10 before showing in Adelaide from November 14–December 2. Click here for details on the Port Pirie shows and here for details on the Adelaide run.

Inside Adelaide’s laneways: Peel Street

It’s time to hit the pavement as we discover another of Adelaide’s bustling CBD laneways.

Exploring these hidden locations has become a favourite pastime of locals and visitors alike, so we’re casting a spotlight on each of them.

The laneways of Adelaide weave their way through the heart of the city and buzz with the vibrant energy of the bars, cafés, restaurants and various businesses that call them home.

First, we discovered the best of the west end along Bank Street, and then we took a wander down hidden gem, Gresham Street.

Next stop: Peel Street.

Peel Street was at the forefront of Adelaide’s laneway transformations, with the introduction of the Small Venue Licence in 2013, bringing more flexibility to small venue operators.

Laneways sprang to life and Peel Street has become a favourite wining and dining location.

Connecting Currie Street to Hindley Street, it’s home to some of Adelaide’s best known and much-loved cafés, bars and restaurants.

Gondola Gondola
Set on the corner of Peel and Hindley streets, this popular eatery brings South East Asian street food culture to Adelaide, set against a backdrop of hip hop beats, enthusiastic staff, busy chefs and a vibrant atmosphere.

Flavours of Vietnam and Thailand get a run at Gondola Gondola.

Peel St
Named after its home, the Peel St restaurant’s menu is divided into “smaller” and “larger” dishes, mostly inspired by Middle Eastern or Asian tastes, and designed to share.

Simple, fresh and delicious is the motto at the Peel Street restaurant.

Bread & Bone
Located upstairs in the tunnel between Peel and Leigh streets, Bread & Bone specialises in wood grilled burgers, steaks and ribs, as well as dishing up tasty hot dogs and fried chicken.

The burgers at Bread & Bone will leave you coming back again… and again.

Maybe Mae
Head downstairs from Bread & Bone and you’ll find Maybe Mae – a suave 1950s-inspired cocktail lounge. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in premium cocktails that pack a punch.

It’s easy to lose track of time behind the hidden door at Maybe Mae.

Clever Little Tailor
A warm and welcoming little bar with leather booths, gas lighting and stone walls. Bite-sized snacks, cocktails, boutique beers and wines for the refined drinker are all on the menu.

The cute and compact Clever Little Taylor.

La Rambla Tapas Bar
Adopting the Spanish alleyway vibe, La Rambla serves up Catalan cuisine with a blend of traditional and innovative tapas dishes. Spanish beer, wines and sangria are also on offer.

Feel the Spanish vibes at La Rambla.

Malt & Juniper
A newcomer to Peel Street, Malt & Juniper opened its doors earlier this year. Think: loungey booths, seasonal cocktails, and a strong focus on whisky and gin. It’s also a weekday café, open from 7am for coffee and light breakfast snacks.

Crafting cocktails by night, Malt & Juniper also makes quality coffee and lunchtime and breakfast eats.

La Moka
Coffee is the specialty of this Italian-inspired café and aperitivo bar, as highlighted in our wrap of South Australia’s best coffee spots.  La Moka is light, bright and friendly, and the perfect spot to enjoy the Peel Street vibe, from dawn to dusk.

Spot La Moka by the big yellow door … and that luring smell of coffee beans.

Alfred’s Bar
Number 14 is home to Alfred’s Bar – a small inner city bar with the atmosphere of a local neighbourhood pub. Locally focused with an impressive range of SA wines and well-known beers.

Alfred’s Bar spills out onto the pavement, the perfect spot on a balmy night.

2nd & 6th
Named after the second and sixth of the seven deadly sins – greed and gluttony – here you’ll find a European lunch and dinner menu, sweet desserts and alcoholic concoctions.

Greed and gluttony are encouraged at 2nd & 6th.

Therapy Cocktail Bar
Therapy is in session! A luxe basement bar, wander down the staircase to discover a throwback to a time of glamour and serious cocktails. In fact, over 100 of them.

Head underground for a bit of suave Therapy.

Hub Adelaide
Aside from cafés, restaurants and small bars, Peel Street is also home to a small co-working space, Hub Adelaide. Voted Adelaide’s Best Co-working Space in the Qantas Business Travel Awards 2018, Hub Adelaide is a premium co-working space for growing businesses with all-inclusive amenities, high-speed internet, meeting rooms and professional development and community events. It features all the essential infrastructure needed for SA’s budding entrepreneurs and start-ups.

It might not look it from the outside, but Hub Adelaide’s insides are bustling.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Young, driven and ready for a career in agribusiness

At 22 years of age, Elizabeth Ward spends most of her working week among grape vines and under almond trees in one of South Australia’s picturesque food and wine regions, McLaren Vale.

Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassador is in her final year of an agricultural science degree at the University of Adelaide and has scored an internship with independent agricultural consultancy DJ’s Growers, where she is learning about the world of agronomy.

Elizabeth has few doubts about her future and securing full-time work in SA’s agribusiness industry, with her university course’s webpage stating “there are five jobs for every one graduate”.

“One of the key selling points for students looking at studying ag science is the opportunity for graduates,” she says.

“I think people are pretty confident that there are jobs out there, and I’ve found from speaking to people in the industry that there are jobs to be filled.

“So I think SA is really cool in that there are many jobs in agriculture.”

Working for three days a week for DJ’s Growers in vineyards across McLaren Vale, the soon-to-be university graduate has already got her foot in the door of the state’s agribusiness sector.

I Choose SA for Agribusiness ambassador Elizabeth Ward is undertaking a paid internship at local agronomy consultancy DJ’s Growers. Photo by James Knowler/JKTP.

The business’s consultants and agronomists are in charge of regularly monitoring vines and crops, providing technical advice to producers of winegrapes, orchard fruits, potatoes, horticulture crops, pasture and broad-acre crops.

Agronomists help detect pests and diseases before suggesting and monitoring appropriate controls to help reduce economic damage to crops. They also monitor soil quality and salinity, and give advice on the right tools to improve produce quality.

Elizabeth is one of three internship participants currently monitoring vine health in large-scale and boutique vineyards prior to the harvest season in early 2019.

“We use an app called Agworld Scout to record and monitor the growth stage of the vines, then we report back to our agronomist, who reports back to the grower, who can then decide on the management of their crop,” she says.

“It’s wonderful working outside, I love it. McLaren Vale a great spot to work and I really enjoy working with such beautiful crops as well.

“The growth of them is so quick. In the past six weeks we’ve seen them go from being pretty much bare to really gorgeous canopies.”

DJ’s Growers intern and I Choose SA ambassador Elizabeth Ward monitors vine and crop health in preparation for harvest. Photo by James Knowler/JKTP.

Elizabeth’s curiosity about the world of food production and a passion for the state’s abundance of high-quality produce was all it took to spark a desire to pursue a career in agribusiness.

Studying for three years between the University of Adelaide’s North Terrace, Waite and Roseworthy campuses, she says her studies have exposed her to crop, livestock and soil sciences, biology, biochemistry, genetics, and soil and animal health.

Students also access the latest research and technology and build practical skills through a number of work experience opportunities, with 91% of the university’s ag science graduates finding full-time employment within months of finishing their degree.

Elizabeth also spent a semester on an agricultural science exchange at the University of Guelph in Canada.

Viticultural agronomist Joe Siebert completed the agronomist internship in 2016 before transitioning into a full-time role at DJ’s Growers.

Servicing soil moisture monitoring equipment installed in 200 vineyards across Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, and Barossa Valley, he also provides technical support and knowledge for winegrape growers.

Joe’s work involves regular monitoring of vineyards for pests and diseases, assessing the quality of the vine and crop, and advising on the appropriate use of fungicides, insecticides and herbicides when needed.

Photo: PIRSA.

DJ’s Growers takes pride in its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, which involves more environmentally sensitive methods for controlling pests, rather than the use of chemicals and insecticides.

An example of IPM is the use and fostering of ‘beneficial insects’ released into strawberry crops or hot-house environments to control unwanted insects.

Joe also provides services on mapping, canopy measurements, soil and plant nutrition, irrigation water quality and irrigation advice.

He says DJ’s Growers is an independent and unbiased agronomy business that places paramount importance on the needs of local growers and their crops.

“Our primary focus is to provide good technical advice that improves crops and returns to the grower. We try and look at it from the perspective of ‘how can we make sure they are still doing business in 10 years’ time?’

“We are very much tailored to every grower’s needs.”

DJ’s Growers is currently supporting more than 100 producers growing a number of crops including winegrapes, potatoes, strawberries, cherries, almonds, olives, onions, garlic, broad-acre crops and salad greens, just to name a few.

DJ’s also stocks its own line of organic and conventional fertilisers designed for local conditions to combat problems such as low yields and build ups of high soil salinity.

Industry in focus: Agribusiness

Throughout the month of October, the state’s agribusiness industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian farmers, producers, agricultural researchers and biosecurity workers are the lifeblood of our country communities and are big players in the state’s overall economic welfare. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Farmers’ unique investment grows SA grain industry

Grain farmers are growing increasingly resilient in South Australia as they continue to plough their own funds into cutting edge research, says industry chief Caroline Rhodes.

Caroline, who took over the reins at Grain Producers SA earlier this year as the organisation’s first female CEO, says local farmers have led the way nationally in investing in their own futures.

Each grain farmer voluntarily pays 30 cents for every tonne of grain sold into the SA Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT) and, as they face a challenging season, the 25 years of corresponding research is paying dividends.

“Grain producers see research as being critical to increasing productivity, reducing risk and unlocking investment in agriculture, and, through SAGIT, they are prioritising their own research needs,” says Caroline, who previously was a trustee of the fund.

“No other state has a research fund supported by growers for state-based, grains industry research. SA is the envy of other states.”

In the past year, $1.8 million in trust funding has supported 25 different grains industry research projects to benefit SA farmers.

Caroline says this work has triggered vast improvements in farming techniques and was now helping farmers better manage seasonal rainfall conditions.

Photo: PIRSA.

“It’s a combination of plant breeding targeting varieties that have a higher drought tolerance, but the biggest change and help by far has been the widespread adoption of no-till farming,” she says.

No-till farming sees producers aim to create little disturbance to soil in growing or harvesting crops, with stubble from previous years creating valuable organic matter to enrich soil and improve moisture conservation.

There are currently about 4,500 grain farms in SA with Primary Industries and Regions SA statistics showing they contribute about $5.3 billion to gross food revenue in the state. Their average grain harvest is about seven million tonnes annually.

Despite this year’s lower rainfall seeing lower tonnage forecasts, Caroline believes farmers are increasingly better equipped to manage drought years through sustainable farming practices.

“While this season may be challenging, there still remains an underlying optimism about the future of the industry and its growth potential,” she says.

“If you look at the longer term, we have seen record shipments from SA as yields continued to improve. While there may be disruption to exports this year, our farmers are resilient.

“SA grain has a fantastic reputation for quality and it means our product is in high demand offshore to feed a growing world population.”

Photo: PIRSA.

About 85% of wheat, barley, canola, oats, lentils, peas, beans, lupins and chickpeas grown over about four million hectares, is exported.

Since taking over the role at Grain Producers SA, Caroline has overseen the organisation moving its headquarters from Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills to Flinders Street in the city.

There also has been a rebrand to “better reflect a new direction for GPSA as being a modern, progressive and professional representation body”.

Caroline has overseen the creation of a five-point working plan to steer the industry organisation’s future as the voice of SA growers.

This focuses on improving infrastructure, trade and market access, research and development, creating a stronger workforce and balancing agriculture with competing land use needs.

Caroline believes her appointment as CEO, along with the organisation having two other high profile women on its board, was about “leading by example and reflecting how many women are working in the industry”.

Grain Producers SA CEO Caroline Rhodes joins PIRSA CEO Scott Ashby, left, Pork SA chairman Mark McLean, Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone, and Primary Producers SA executive chairman Rob Kerin at Brand South Australia’s recent agribusiness industry briefing.

Independent board director Professor Wendy Umberger is the University of Adelaide’s Professor of Agricultural Economics and Food Policy and executive director of its Centre for Global Food and Resources, focusing on economic issues affecting global food and agricultural value chains.

While more a recently appointed board member – grain, hay and sheep farmer Tanja Morgan – also works as a project manager for Mallee Sustainable Farming.

Caroline says the industry is well backed by global leaders in grains research at the Waite Institute and the new $3.7 million Clare Research Centre with its focus on legume crops.

It also offers enormous economic and work opportunities.

“The grains industry is an engine room for the local economy. At harvest time, the storage and handling workforce alone sees more than 1500 casual jobs being created statewide,” Caroline says.

“We have a broad range of jobs on offer and it’s a matter of encouraging people to consider agriculture as a career option because it’s a growth industry in SA.”

Header image: Grain Producers SA.

Industry in focus: Agribusiness

Throughout the month of October, the state’s agribusiness industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian farmers, producers, agricultural researchers and biosecurity workers are the lifeblood of our country communities and are big players in the state’s overall economic welfare. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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