by Ali Kuchel
THE Lockyer Valley will showcase that the region can grow more than fresh produce and crops when the National Lavender Growers Conference kicks off in Gatton on May 31.
It will be a Queensland first when the four-day conference and competition starts in two weeks, with growers, producers and guest speakers coming to Gatton from across Australia.
The Australian Lavender Growers Association will host the event, showcasing everything lavender, including food, growing the flower, lavender-based craft, oil distillation and tourism opportunities.
TALGA vice-president and local lavender grower Gary Young said the theme "paddock to plate” would highlight all aspects of lavender farming, as well as showcase the Lockyer Valley.
"We felt it was time to bring the conference to Queensland,” he said.
Although lavender grown in Queensland was predominantly used for lavender crafts, Mr Young said Australia was becoming one of the world's biggest producers of lavender oil in comparison to European countries.
"We've got a better fragrance,” he said.
Delegates attending the conference and competition will have the opportunity to see what else grows in the Lockyer Valley as they visit several key farming locations in the district.
Mr Young's wife, Anne, said the paddock to plate theme had a big connection to the Lockyer Valley, with its vast agricultural environment.
Additionally Mrs Young said lavender farming had proven to be a large generator of tourism in many towns and they hoped to boost tourism in the Lockyer with the conference.
"It really shows you that you can take a product and make it into a tourist attraction,” Mrs Young said.
"I think in the Lockyer Valley there is a lot of agriculture but there is a lot of missed opportunity to turn it into tourism.”
Tasmanian lavender grower Robert Ravens, known for his lavender oil, will be a key guest speaker at the conference.
The conference will run from May 31 to June 3 at the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre.