THIS IS EDEN... with Kari Esplin of Recycling Technologies Group

How long have you lived/worked in Eden?

My husband and I moved back from Melbourne in 1991 to buy an engineering business. I grew up here and get to call myself a local! My family has a long history in the region, in farming, cheesemaking and the timber industry. It's satisfying to know my family were pioneers. My great great aunty Pike built the Australasia and her sister, my great grandmother, was a renowned midwife (and psychic apparently). My grandfather and his father were cheesemakers, and my father came to the region when the sawmilling industry was in its infancy. My mother started the first dress shop in Imlay Street and I still wear the clothes she had - I knew they would come back into fashion!

What do you like most about your job?

We can make a difference! I love that we use waste to create valuable products. I even love the days when that waste is chicken poo or dead fish - I hold my nose and remember we are trying to clean up the world, one solution at a time! I am grateful for the fun approach and commitment of the people I work with.

What do you like least about your job?

The struggle to get equipment sales over the line as a regional family business. Freight costs and travel distances are a real issue for us. I would love to see freight subsidies for regional enterprise. It would boost the local economy.

What's your favourite place in Eden and/or the Bega Valley?

There are so many! I love Aslings Beach, with its squeaky sand and pristine water. There is a little creek crossing off Broadwater Road we go to after work in summer and have a drink with our feet dangling in the water. I felt fortunate during lockdown to live in Eden.

If you won $1miillion what would you do first?

I'd invest in a primary industry innovation hub, developing value-adding products to the timber, fishing and farming industry. It would include sites for new local businesses to establish cutting edge technology that demonstrates world-class production techniques and keep the jobs in the region. Plus an area open to the public for education and exhibitions showcasing history and new technologies. And if there was a little bit left, I would update Imlay Street with new staggered facades and seaside village theme. I would also donate to Hear and Say, who do fantastic work with babies born with hearing impediments. Maybe a million dollars wouldn't be enough... but it would be a start!

What is one thing you cannot live without?

My family.

What are three words that describe Eden best?

Caring, resilient and hardworking. I can honestly say that there have been times when the only thing that has kept me together are the supportive people in this town. I can't actually say that sentence without getting tears in my eyes.

What do you think Eden needs the most as a community?

Investment in innovation in our traditional industries. Building education, jobs and environmental sustainability for our town. Creating employment gives people pride and being innovative in industry creates job satisfaction. Building profitable local business also put funds back into community endeavours, so everyone benefits.

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