A group of farmers in the Lockyer Valley have become some of the first to benefit from the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund.
The fund enables farmers to receive an interest-free loan to support growth in their organic business.
The $220,500 loan received by the Australian Organic Farmers group in the Lockyer Valley will be put toward the installation of a humidity-controlled storage facility with the aim to to improve the shelf life of produce grown in the region and help to reduce food waste.
The group’s founder, fifth generation farmer Anthony Bauer, started the group to create a central packing and distribution facility for organic growers in the Lockyer Valley region in 2003.
He states, “While the tropical weather in Queensland generally provides good growing conditions, the humidity in some months makes storing fresh produce difficult, and often results in a lot of wasted product, particularly with our sweet potatoes and onions.”
“With the support of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund, we’re now able to install a humidity-controlled storage facility that will prolong the shelf life of our sweet potatoes and onions by four to five weeks, and enable us to work around weather events such as storms and heat waves.
“Ultimately, this will help ensure greater consistency of produce to consumers.
“It will also enable us to grow larger blocks and increase the supply of sweet potatoes and onions by 100 percent.”
Assistant state director of Woolworths, Peta Nutley, commented, “We know that organics are growing 20pc year on year and by partnering with Anthony and small farming businesses that we will be able to meet our consumers’ demands.”
Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner supported the fund, saying “I commend Australian Organics for their infrastructure expansion, their ongoing development and continuing focus on consumer demands.”
Image Credit: Queensland Country Life