We are celebrating the diversity of businesses based in the Southern Trove region in Tasmania, given our location in Grove, Huon Valley. 

Our Panel facilitator - Dr Polly McGee


Dr Polly McGee is an author, entrepreneur educator, and digital strategist. She has managed multimillion dollar innovation grants programs and worked with hundreds of start-ups to refine their business ideas and source funding. A prolific writer on digital strategy and small business, Polly has contributed to a range of business and digital publications for private enterprise and Government clients and created a suite of digital and video content under her Doctor Digital persona. As co-founder of Start-up Tasmania, she was voted one of the most influential people in Australian Start-ups, and continues to coach and advise entrepreneurs. Polly is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for global edtech company Prosper Education, and President of social enterprise Produce to the People. Her second book 'The Good Hustle’ - a manifesto for sustainable heart centred businesses is coming out through Murdoch Publishing in Feb 2018

Read more about Polly here on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Meet our panel members!

Frances Bender - Non-Executive Director and Co-Founder, Huon Aquaculture


Frances and Peter Bender founded Huon Aquaculture over 30 years ago and through many trials and tribulations, have watched Huon grow from being a small family-run business to Tasmania’s signature salmon producer.

Frances provides Huon a leading voice in both local, national and international industry, regulatory and stakeholder forums. She was a keynote speaker at the 2014 World Aquaculture Forum in Adelaide, led the industry’s response to the (former) Federal Government’s Biosecurity Bill and in 2017, was inducted to into the Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women.

Frances is passionate about the community and supporting the regions in which Huon operates. In 2013, Frances founded Huon’s Helping Hand Community Grants Program which offers community groups grants of up to $3000 to support projects, events or initiatives that support sustainable community development.

One of these Helping Hand Community Grants helped Sprout Tasmania to establish a scholarship for a small producer to develop their understanding of growing and marketing their produce.

Frances will be a panel member at Cross Pollinate 2017.


Sadie Chrestman - Founder, Fat Pig Farm


Sadie worked in the Arts in the US and Australia for twenty years. In 2009 she moved to a small farm in southern Tasmania with her partner, Matthew Evans. She and Matthew now raise Wessex saddleback pigs and a wide variety of vegetables to serve in their dining room on Fat Pig Farm, a journey recorded in the SBS television series, Gourmet Farmer. 

Sadie is fascinated by the ecosystem beneath our feet and how that connects to the variety and diversity of life on the farm. 


Nick Haddow - Bruny Island Cheese Co


Nick’s obsession with great cheese started when he was given a bucket of fresh goat's milk whilst working as a chef in South Australia's Eden Valley. Since then, cheese has taken him around the world before it eventually landed him on the stunningly beautiful Bruny Island in southern Tasmania. Nick is highly regarded business innovator and entrepreneur. His business, Bruny Island Cheese Co, which he founded in 2003, has received many accolades including being awarded the Telstra Australian Business of the Year in 2013.

Nick is a champion of artisan cheese in Australia and is a mad-keen advocate for Raw Milk Cheese (which he is happy to rant on about any chance he gets). His love of traditional food has taken him all around the world. 

Now a passionate Tasmanian, Nick spends much of his time promoting the state and supporting, showcasing and mentoring many other artisan producers. His passion for small island living resulted in him being awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2014 to study the small island economies around the world. 

Nick also has a successful media career that includes his role as co-star of all four series of Gourmet Farmer, which is screened in Australia and around the world. He has co-authored The Deli Book (published by Murdoch, 2012) and the Gourmet farmer Goes Fishing (published by Murdoch, 2015) with his mates Matthew Evans and Ross O’Meara and has recently written down all he knows about cheese in his new book, Milk.Made which was published internationally in August 2016 to rave reviews and was awarded a prestigious James Beard Award in 2017.

Matthew Tack - Our Mates Farm


Matthew Tack grew up farming in North Queensland before studying Commerce and Economics at the University of Queensland and becoming a Chartered Accountant.  After 12 years working in London as a Finance Director for a mining company, in 2013 both he and his partner of 15 years decided to move to Tasmania without ever having been there.

Together they now run Our Mates’ Farm, 79 acres of land in Geeveston where they grow certified organic dessert and cider apples, sheep, cattle, free range pigs and their two free range children.  Our Mates’ Farm is dedicated to producing the best quality food in an ethical and sustainable way, with the highest standards of welfare.  They have made many mistakes along the way, but their family motto is “adapt, persevere, succeed” and in 2016 they achieved their first profitable season.

Our Mates’ Farm are also proud partners of Willie Smiths and Fat Pig Farm, and are fortunate to count them among their mentors and friends in the Huon Valley.


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Bec Bovell from Cygnet Mushroom Farm will share with us her story of how she came to be a farmer of fungi!  We will hear about her journey, challenges, successes and what the future holds for her farm, as well as her take homes from the day at the Conference.

Cygnet Mushroom Farm is a venture based in Cygnet. At their farm they grow first grade, clean, fresh gourmet mushrooms for wholesale, retail and restaurants, with varieties like Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms their main crops. Their mushrooms are super fresh and are, in many cases, delivered to customers on the same day of harvest.


Dinner MC

For our long table dinner, we are so thrilled to have Tim Cox as our Master of Ceremonies for the evening!


Tim spent more than 25 years as an ABC broadcaster talking to Tasmanians about their hopes, challenges and daily life, through the best and worst of times together.

​He ​is now running for state parliament, hoping to foster a smart, fair, progressive and inclusive community.

This will be Tim's third Cross Pollinate dinner - and he's hoping it won't be his last!