Woolworths invests $1m into four family-owned Australian farms through Organic Growth Fund
Round Four of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund is now open and Woolworths is inviting farmers to apply by 11 October 2020.
Woolworths has awarded more than $1 million in new grants to four organic farms across Australia in the third round of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund.
The four successful recipients in the third funding round – Cantrill Organics, Kalafatis Fresh Produce, Wattle Organic Farms and Prime Organics – grow a wide range of fruit and vegetable varieties on farms in Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
The $30m Woolworths Organic Growth Fund was established in 2018 in partnership with Heritage Bank to help Australian farmers meet the fast growing consumer demand for organic fruit and vegetables.
Woolworths General Manager of Fruit and Vegetables Paul Turner said: “The customer demand for organic fruit and veg continues to grow at around 20 per cent a year.
“We’re working in close partnership with local farmers to ensure we can meet the growing demand with Aussie grown products.
“In this round, we’re backing four more hard-working and entrepreneurial Australian farming families, with another $1 million in investment through the Organic Growth Fund.
“This includes a $500,000 grant for the Kalafatis family to branch out into organics. The Kalafatis family has been a trusted supply partner to Woolworths for more than 50 years in the conventional space, and we’re excited to be deepening our partnership.
“As we look to the next round, we’d like to encourage more applications like this from conventional growers who are looking to diversify crops and convert to organic production.”
Victorian grant recipient Jimmy Kalafatis will use the fund to farm organic pears and plums.
Mr Kalafatis said: “Consumers are putting more organic produce into their shopping baskets every week – that’s what we’re seeing and what the statistics are telling us.
“Australians are becoming more educated about how their food is produced and are looking more to methods of growing produce that don’t require chemicals or pesticides.”
Woolworths has committed to invest up to $30 million over a five-year period in the form of financial grants and interest-free loans. Applicants who successfully apply to the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund for an interest-free loan will be issued the loan by Heritage Bank.
WOOLWORTHS ORGANIC GROWTH FUND ROUND THREE RECIPIENTS
Kalafatis Fresh – Goulburn Valley, Victoria
Kalafatis Fresh will use its $500,000 grant to help purchase orchard infrastructure to farm organic pears and plums. The infrastructure will include a vertical espalier trellis to cover the crop with pest-proof netting.
An irrigation system will also be established above the orchard floor to allow for mowing between the trees, a critical task when herbicides aren’t in use. A commercial-sized mower and sweeper will be purchased under the grant for the sweeping and mulching of leaves to reduce potential infection from fruit diseases like black spot and canker.
Prime Organics – Donnybrook, WA
Prime Organics is a family owned and operated Certified Organic apple orchard located at Donnybrook, in the heart of the Geographe fruit-growing region, south of Perth, WA. The Jarvis family run Prime Organics and will use its $300,000 Woolworths Organic Growth Fund grant to develop a new orchard and help expand production. A long-time organic supplier to Woolworths, the grant will help increase availability of Certified Organic apples with planting in the new orchard and renewing plantings in the existing orchard in 2021.
Cantrill Organics – Nashdale, New South Wales
Operating Australia’s largest organic cherry orchard, Cantrill Organics is a family owned farm in Nashdale, Orange NSW. The Cantrill Family has been farming in the Orange district for nearly 170 years and is committed to providing certified organic, high quality produce including cherries and a variety of other organic crops.
Cantrill Organics has secured a $170,000 Woolworths Organic Growth Fund grant to continue to purchase new cherry varieties that will bring the harvest season forward, as well as funding for infrastructure upgrades to solar panels, the pack shed and upgrades to the dam.
The family transitioned to fully Certified Organic about 12 years ago and are continually searching for cost effective, risk reducing and sustainable ways to produce an organic crop that provides customers with the best and freshest product possible.
Wattle Organic Farms – Lake Boga, Victoria
Wattle Organic Farms had its beginnings more than 10 years ago with the aim of producing healthier and more sustainable fruit and vegetable crops. The property is run by Nathan Free with parents Kelvin and Deanne at Lake Boga near Swan Hill in Victoria, with 130ha of certified-organic land devoted to the year-round production of vegetables and stone fruit. The $80,000 Woolworths Organic Growth Fund grant will allow the Frees to expand and improve their most in-demand stone fruit lines.