Gayle has international attention

Gayle Quarmby speaks at the Parabere Forum in Bilbao, Spain
Gayle Quarmby speaks at the Parabere Forum in Bilbao, Spain

REEDY Creek local Gayle Quarmby gained international attention when she spoke at the Parabere Forum in Bilbao, Spain last month.

The forum on March 1-2 brought together 300 participants and focused on generating more input from women on key topics.

Debates and speeches on major food issues from opinion leaders, food activists, international scientists, farmers and top women chefs from five continents made up the two-day forum.

Mrs Quarmby's passion for community engagement and the food industry gained her an invitation.

"I was asked to attend after the food writers at the Sydney Morning Herald identified me as someone who had a great enthusiasm for food and community," she said

"It was such an innovative event and it was fascinating to engage with such incredible women."

The forum featured speakers from countries such as the USA, India, France, Zimbabwe and Brazil who all shared a interest in closing the gender gap in the gastronomy sector.

Mrs Quarmby said she developed many long term relationships and now has a large resource of women across the globe.

"I now have a network of like-minded people from all over the world," she said.

Along with her husband Mike, Mrs Quarmby has spent more than a decade developing the Outback Pride Project which promotes the Australian native food industry by developing a network of production sites within traditional Aboriginal communities.

In her forum speech, Mrs Quarmby spoke about the history behind her project as well as the importance of rural women's education and engagement in traditional food culture.

"The future looks better for young women that seek connection and value in their cultural heritage," she said. "Young women in the cities have found that the marketing of the Outback Pride products, in a micro business from home, gives an opportunity for cultural connectivity that has been lost to them.

"We have found that by reconnecting with desert people and most importantly, our aim to create a platform whereby bringing pride back to the outback, people have a choice to stand up and access an industry where traditional knowledge is respected and valued.

"Not everyone in a community has the skills to become an artist and the food sector has an enormous hunger for authenticity and relevance in food production."

Mrs Quarmby said the forum opened her eyes on many issues.

"It (the forum) really put in context how fortunate we are here in Australia," she said.

"Not only because of our accessibility to food, but also our connection to the food we produce."

While Mrs Quarmby only managed to squeeze in a small amount of her own sight-seeing, she was more than happy to experience Bilbao through her work at the event.

"I had a few days here and there to look around for myself but, really, I was there to attend the forum," she said.

The speakers from this year's forum will meet again in two years time.