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Women to Watch: Belinda Neame

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“The Forage has clarified exactly where I want to be personally and professionally and I’m loving the experiences and opportunities that are presenting themselves since establishing the event.”

We love this woman. She is down-to-earth, visionary, and the nicest person you will ever meet. Plus, she’s brought together some of Canberra’s finest food in the one spot.

Belinda Neame is responsible for Canberra’s only street-style food event. In less than a year, The Forage – a showcase of street food (and other food products) by our local cafes, food trucks, wineries and breweries – has become a ‘must-attend’ event on the Canberra calendar. It pops up in the community and gives local businesses the opportunity to get creative and showcase and feed people in a festival-like environment.

The Forage, runs four times a year alongside the Hustle&Scout fashion market, is a one-of-a-kind fusion of food and fashion, and Belinda, who grew up in Canberra, loves it! “The Forage has clarified exactly where I want to be personally and professionally and I’m loving the experiences and opportunities that are presenting themselves since establishing the event. I love food, creativity and community so when you bring these all together, it makes for a very happy person!”

Previously, Belinda owned a little cupcake shop, Cherry Seed. “It was my dream. I dreamt it and did it. It was tough. Tougher than I could ever have imagined. The shop was an eight-year life lesson for me. It was a game-changer in the way I wanted to live my life.” If she could advise her younger self, she’d say: “Being a shop keeper isn’t all about playing with a cash register! It’s bloody hard work and it will consume you!”

One of Belinda’s major triumphs in life has been tackling a crippling anxiety disorder that saw her house-bound for two years in her prime. Having her first child was a defining moment. “Giving birth to Fletcher changed me forever. It made me face and tackle my anxiety disorder head-on.”

Another challenge was having enough courage to close Cherry Seed when she’d outgrown it. “That was the hardest decision I have ever made in my life.”

It’s opened the way for new things, though, and The Forage has formed strong relationships with vendors, partners, volunteers, the local entertainment scene and the broader community.

Canberra has been home since Belinda was very young. “I love more than anything that we have four seasons. I’m a real winter person so Canberra is perfect for me. The steady pace, the clean air, the bike paths, the quiet roads, the view of the mountains no matter where you are in the city, the accessibility of other major cities, the coast and the snow, the opportunities for our creative community, our food scene…”

Like so many of us, she also loves that Canberra is Australia’s best-kept secret. “Not a lot of people ‘get’ Canberra! I love that only those who live here know how wonderful it is.”

And, thanks to Belinda, with The Forage bringing so many talented Canberrans together in one place, that’s a secret that’s becoming harder for us keep.

Discover the rest of our 15 Women to Watch in 2015 here.

Read about Nellie PeoplesMeegan Fitzharris, Tegan McAuleyLouisa de SmetHeidi StratfordDr Sudha RaoCarla & Emma PapasTara CheyneSally MoylanKylie TraversKaleidJulie OkelyMichelle MelbourneJoanna Allebone and Zoya Patel here.

Home page image by Lori Cicchini of Loriana Fotografia . Make up by Ali Price Makeup. Hair by Angela Pavlovic of Kosa Studio. Clothing from Canberra Centre.

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