So in just a few days time I will be landing in Australia to start my month long adventure.
Although I'll be spending the majority of my time in Melbourne, I will also be visiting New South Wales and Queensland, visiting large cities like Brisbane and Sydney and less well known places like Katoomba and Bendigo.
I’m speaking at public forums and community events, an agribusiness Christmas business lunch and an international Agri-Food Conference as well as joining a discussion panel hoisted by Social Traders and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in Melbourne.
I'm meeting with food co-ops, food hubs and food businesses, farmers, community gardeners, social enterprenuers and public sector representatives.
Whilst emailing and chatting by Skype to the numerous groups and communities that I will be visiting what has really struck me is the generosity of the hosts. Each is wanting to make sure I get as much out of the visit as I can. Each wants to make sure its an exchange of ideas and that I leave inspired and more informed.
Each conversation has been topped and tailed by the question: so, what do you want to get out of your visit and so, here are the top five things I want to bring back to the UK:
Reflections on how we build meaningful relationships with all elements of the food system and how we build better partnerships with traditional farmers.
How we engage emerging migrant communities in commercial food growing.
Examples of good practice with regard to building effective relationships, managing expectations, building loyalty, trust and good communication - as this is as important as the growing and the selling.
Exploration of ways to build scale and influence without loosing the essence of what we are: grassroots, bottom-up, grower-led.
Ideas on how we build momentum and influence with politicians in power who are resistant to our views and needs.
So, in the New Year, we'll be organising a series of slide shows and discussions based on all the ideas, information and inspiration I'll be returning with.
(P.s. Map from Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) ©. This material is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence).