Paddock to plate

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 30 Juni 2013 | 19.55

MODERN FARMERS: Daniel Leesong with his wife Melanie and children, from left, Eleanor, 8, Noah, 4, Flynn, 7 months, Charles, 7, and George, 4, at his Cambridge property which he plans to develop. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

A HANDS-on farm tourism experience showcasing artisan cheese and chocolate makers, farm gate and pick-your-own stone fruit and berries is set to enhance the Coal River Valley's gastronomic reputation.

Leading Tasmanian tourism and hospitality players Daniel Leesong and Simon Currant plan to develop the boutique Coal River Farm, which Mr Leesong said would tap into a burgeoning worldwide demand, especially from Asia, for paddock-to-plate experiences.

"We want to celebrate the rich heritage of artisan production that Tasmania, and historically rural communities, have been known for," Mr Leesong said yesterday.

"We are proud residents of the Coal River Valley and love the community and its world-class produce. Bringing together people with traditional skills is what Coal River Farm is all about."

A development application for the small-scale, family-run operation is before Clarence Council.

Mr Leesong, a former Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive and state director of the Australian Hotels Association, hopes to turn the first sod on the project within 12 months.

Features of Coal River Farm, which is being backed by local tourism figure Simon Currant, the man behind Cradle Mountain Lodge and Peppermint Bay, will include a restaurant, a 0.4-hectate hydroponic strawberry farm, peach and apricot orchards, a cheese cave incorporating private dining facilities, and family picnic areas.

Mr Leesong said the proposed farm was a major opportunity for tourism growth and would have particular appeal for Asian tourists.

"One of their key drivers is being able to see what is being produced and to pick it themselves and feel at one with that process," he said.

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief Luke Martin said the scale, location and innovative nature of the proposal represented a potential boon for the economy.

"If there was one particular development concept that captured where we want to go with food and wine from a tourism perspective in Tasmania, this is it," he said.

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