Rebecca Barnes

Rebecca Barnes – Director, Playing with Fire Native Foods Pty ltd.

Rebecca Barnes moved to the northern NSW coastal town of Ballina 20 years ago after a successful international career in the insurance industry. On the lookout for a career and lifestyle alternative more suitable to raising a family, she found native raspberries whilst wandering through the bush one day. They were delicious. She wondered why these native berries weren’t being cropped and sold in store. This discovery created an interest that quickly became a passion. The more she discovered, the more she became fascinated with Australia’s native bounty – citrus fruits, herbs, vegetables, berries, plums, seeds, nuts, grains and the list goes on. There was a small but vibrant industry when she and business partner Gus Donaghy started Playing with Fire Native Foods in early 2002.

Playing with Fire is now an industry leader growing, processing and sourcing native foods for the domestic and export markets. Selling everywhere from the local weekly farmers market to gourmet food shops, high end restaurants and exports to Asia, USA and Europe, their business is growing rapidly.

Rebecca’s project is about showcasing the industry through a conference event. The event will provide a platform for industry leaders to showcase the latest uses, research, markets and growing techniques. Participants will get to taste the foods and discover their enormous potential whilst learning about the foods and the different ways they can enter the industry. The native food industry is at a critical point and needs expansion for surivial.