A torrent of support continues to flow to Buy from the Bush as its aim to connect city shoppers with rural sellers is picked up by a new NSW government campaign.
Buy from the Bush founder Grace Brennan of Warren was in Sydney with Deputy Premier John Barilaro, small business minister Damien Tudehope and renowned chef Matt Moran for the launch of the Buy Regional campaign.
Buy Regional is an online hub that showcases regional shops and sellers in one place, to make it easy for consumers to find the perfect Christmas gift and support regional NSW.
Its launch comes less than a fortnight after Mrs Brennan started Buy from the Bush on social media, which has attracted more than 40,000 followers and boosted trade for small businesses in the Orana region and beyond.
The Warren woman who grew up in Sydney welcomed the launch of the government campaign.
"It's great to be part of because I think the louder the voice telling city consumers to look to the regions and to the bush to source Christmas gifts and also beyond Christmas, the better," Mrs Brennan said.
"It's just about shifting the mindset a little bit and a website like Buy Regional can really help do that...
"It's great to be part of, and I think it makes the message even clearer to people to look to the bush this Christmas."
Mr Barilaro said Sydneysiders keen to help drought-stricken towns could easily buy Christmas presents and produce direct from regional retailers with Buy Regional.
"Everywhere I go people tell me about the images they've seen and the stories they've heard of how drought is affecting people in the bush and that they want to do something to help, but they're not sure how," Mr Barilaro said.
Every dollar you spend with a regional retailer or producer helps keep that small business afloat, supports jobs in that town and gets money flowing through the local economy, which is exactly what is needed while we wait for the drought to break.Deputy Premier John Barilaro
"Every dollar you spend with a regional retailer or producer helps keep that small business afloat, supports jobs in that town and gets money flowing through the local economy, which is exactly what is needed while we wait for the drought to break."
Regional businesses can participate in the Buy Regional hub and social media network for free by simply registering online.
The hub already features businesses from some of the hardest-hit areas of the state, including Broken Hill, Coonamble, Inverell and White Cliffs.
Mr Tudehope says the Buy Regional hub is divided into six categories - wine, fashion, food, gifts for kids, art and design, and Christmas hampers, to help shoppers easily find gifts for that special someone.
"I've heard loud and clear what regional small businesses struggling through the drought have had to say, that there are fewer walk-in customers, that margins are tighter and that owners are under enormous pressure," Mr Tudehope said.
"The quality and variety of products available from regional NSW retailers remains world class and the Buy Regional campaign will directly connect shoppers in cities wanting to buy, with businesses in the bush that have goods to sell."
#OneDayCloserToRain was another online community represented at Monday's launch.
The Facebook group is connecting people on the land who are struggling with drought, providing a lifeline for those who need to share their stories.
The group has launched a marketplace to help regional people create income streams by selling their locally produced arts and design work to city people keen to help.
As well as buying gifts from regional retailers, Mr Barilaro encouraged Sydneysiders planning festive get-togethers and Christmas Day feasts to consider buying meat, produce and hampers from regional NSW.
"Favour the flavour of regional NSW and ask your Sydney butcher or greengrocer for meat, poultry and produce provided by NSW farmers or check out the Buy Regional hub for honey, preserves, veg, meat or even fully-stocked hampers, all sourced from our regions," Mr Barilaro said.
#Thankful4Farmers ambassador Matt Moran said in lieu of drought-breaking rain, farmers across regional NSW needed the support of the grocery-buying public.
"As a fourth generation farmer I know firsthand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into producing our food during times of drought and every product purchased will show our farming and rural communities how much they are valued," Mr Moran said.
Mr Barilaro thanked the founders and supporters of all the online entrepreneurs helping connect regional businesses to city shoppers, along with organisations providing support on top of the NSW Government's drought package.
"Charities and volunteers are also doing great work, organisations like Buy A Bale and Foodbank NSW which is providing more than 15,000 hampers to farming communities and I thank them for their kindness and generosity," Mr Barilaro said.
"To date, more than $988 million from the NSW Government's $1.8 billion Emergency Drought Relief Package has been spent and we have committed a further $988 million to build 175 water infrastructure projects under the Safe and Secure Water program."
The Buy Regional for Christmas hub is at: www.nsw.gov.au/buyregional