2018 Terra Madre and Salon del Gusto scholarship winners

WINNERS: Liam Dennis (top left), Thomas Boyd and Leisha Parkinson have won a scholarship to attend the 2018 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy in September.
WINNERS: Liam Dennis (top left), Thomas Boyd and Leisha Parkinson have won a scholarship to attend the 2018 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy in September.

A Maitland vegetable farmer, a Hunter chef and a Newcastle mushroom producer are about to land on the world stage.

Liam Dennis, Thomas Boyd and Leisha Parkinson have won a scholarship to attend the 2018 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy in September.

They will accompany the Australia Slow Food delegation to the biennial event, which gives participants an opportunity to be with 7000 farmers, chefs and food advocates from 143 countries as they discuss the issues affecting food systems and put forward ideas to solve current challenges. 

It also gives them access to hundreds of food stalls where they can sample a wide range of food and chat to the growers and producers. 

MUSHROOM FARMER: Leisha Parkinson co-owns Bean Cycled mushroom farm at Charlestown Square and started growing mushrooms with her brother in 2017.

MUSHROOM FARMER: Leisha Parkinson co-owns Bean Cycled mushroom farm at Charlestown Square and started growing mushrooms with her brother in 2017.

Ms Parkinson of Hamilton, won the Young Farmer Scholarship. 

The 34-year-old co-owns the Bean Cycled mushroom farm at Charlestown Square. 

She started growing oyster mushrooms on discarded coffee grounds collected from cafes with her brother last year. 

They use Charlestown Square’s storage rooms and loading dock for production and sell wholesale to restaurants and retail at farmers’ markets and Your Food Collective.  

CHEF: Thomas Boyd, of Broke, is the head chef at Margan Restaurant in the Hunter Valley, which grows about 90 per cent of its own produce on one acre.

CHEF: Thomas Boyd, of Broke, is the head chef at Margan Restaurant in the Hunter Valley, which grows about 90 per cent of its own produce on one acre.

Mr Boyd, of Broke, won the Hunter Valley Chef Scholarship. 

The 27-year-old has been the head chef at Margan Restaurant in Broke since 2016. 

He trained for 18 months at The Ledbury in London and was an apprentice at Restaurant Mason in Newcastle.

The restaurant grows about 90 per cent of its produce on one acre. 

It also makes its own haloumi and ricotta from milk bought at local dairies and develops menus based on seasonal produce. Margan has won over a dozen awards in the past 10 years.

VEGETABLE FARMER: Liam Dennis is a vegetable farmer at East Maitland and a regular at the Slow Food Earth Market in Maitland.

VEGETABLE FARMER: Liam Dennis is a vegetable farmer at East Maitland and a regular at the Slow Food Earth Market in Maitland.

Mr Dennis, a regular at the Slow Food Earth Market in Maitland, won the Earth Market Vendor Scholarship.

The 18-year-old grew up farming on his family farm in East Maitland and is passionate about small-scale agriculture and reducing food waste.

He helps his father, Matthew Dennis, manage the farm and attends the market in central Maitland twice a month. He also helps run a farm veggie box service through social media. 

Mr Dennis witnessed the huge public support for local farmers when his family’s pumpkin crop was about to be ploughed back into the earth in 2016.

They had too many pumpkins and the price they received at the Sydney markets meant they barely broke even. 

Luckily, Slow Food Hunter Valley  and Fairfax Media helped organise an impromptu pumpkin stall which saw 20 tonnes sold in 12 hours. 

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