Moree dishes up its healthy best

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Lucinda Cush enjoying the spoils of Moree on a Plate. Photo By Georgina Poole

Moree is known for its established cotton industry and hot artesian baths. But a regional food destination? This weekend, prepare for a healthy surprise.

From humble beginnings at Moree Racecourse 13 years ago, the Moree on a Plate Food and Wine Festival has quietly grown to become one of the region’s – and the state’s – most established, reputable festivals, showcasing the finest produce from north-west NSW and beyond.

Wholefoods like nuts, fruits, oils and grains are just some of the region’s fresh products gaining respect from discerning cooks.

“The Moree district has long been regarded as one of the world’s premier producers of grains and cotton. A number of evolving industries, such as oranges, pecans and olives, have also cemented their place on the table in recent years,” Moree on a Plate President Bethany Kelly said.

Celebrity chef Lyndey Milan is this year’s guest and the Blokes on the BBQ is back with local politicians Parkes Federal MP Mark Coulton and Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall teaming up to take on locals for a barbecue duel that will test their grilling skills.

“Moree on a Plate is so many things to so many people – it’s a farmers’ market, it’s a family day out, it’s an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing lunch in the autumn sunshine and it’s a wonderful way to promote not only our marvellous producers but our lovely town of Moree,” Ms Kelly said.

Susie and Rob Long in their Pallamallawa Pecan grove. Photo: Georgina Poole

THE PRODUCER

More than 20 years ago Pallamallawa couple Rob and Susie Long were quietly nutting out ways to capitalise on their newly purchased parcel of land on the fertile banks of the Gwydir River.

Boasting rich alluvial black soils but too small for broadacre farming, the intensive industry of pecans was calling.

“We had a young family and were both working so needed a realistic, reasonably low maintenance industry, and trees, being a permanent crop, really appealed to us,” Susie said.

“Pecans are such a natural, healthy food and in recent years the clean eating and wholefood movement plus the swing against highly processed food has really reinforced the industry and been hugely advantageous.”

Their first orchard was planted in 2000 and included 700 trees of five mixed varieties, including the popular larger Pawnee Nut.

In 2012 the Longs launched their commercial operation, Pally Pecans. Their range now includes raw kernels and flavoured kernels such as honey roasted, maple cinnamon and lime and chilli.

They also provide bulk nut and shell to Sydney’s Flemington Markets.

The couple, who has showcased their product at Moree on a Plate Food and Wine Festival for many years, said it was a positive event for a regional town.

“We absolutely love being involved in Moree on a Plate and spreading the wonderful message behind our fresh, locally grown fare and it is truly a fantastic opportunity to celebrate being a member of such a great small community,” Susie said.

Lindy McMicking and Sam Boughton of Lindy’s Marinated Tomatoes. Photo: Georgina Poole

Moree on a Plate Food and Wine Festival will be held at The Moree Secondary College, Auburn Street, Moree this weekend on May 13.

www.moreeonaplate.com.au