Chairperson - Justin Birchmore
Justin is a company director with broad commercial experience across a range of industries. He has sound business acumen, a background in capital markets and in project development for companies at various stages including start-ups.
His career has drawn upon these skills in various business development roles including a key supporting role in two successful Australian Stock Exchange listings. Management participation with these companies pre and post listing involved engagement with ‘top end of town’ business, but his focus over more recent years has been on the establishment and growth of relatively small companies in sectors including agriculture, water and retail. Justin also has experience in advertising, marketing, public relations and events management.
Justin is Managing Director of Australian Plant Factory (a JV partner in a prospective algal biofuel project with the traditional landowners of the Kimberley region) and Green Planet Agriculture (with the exclusive Tasmanian grower rights to an exciting cherry plum hybrid). He previously acted as Managing Director of a plant tissue culture laboratory from its inception and is Co-founder & Director of a current specialty mushroom start-up by the name of Academy al Funghi.
Justin has been a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors for over twenty-five years, and has taken the position of Chairperson of Sprout Tasmania, since May 2020.
Public Officer & Treasurer - Alexandra Seager
Alexandra ventured to Tasmania from the UK with her husband about six years ago, and now loves to call this island her home. Alexandra is the Manager Financial and Management Accounting at TasWater and brings to Sprout her valued skills in this area to ensure the organisation remains on track and viable into the long term. Alex is keen to do as much growing as possible at her home in Kingston, keeps heritage chickens and even owned a goat, until it ate everything!
Secretary - Mark Massie
Following a 30 year career in the Navy Mark retired to the Huon Valley and established Aurora Farm, a Dorper sheep farm near Geeveston with his wife, Deanne. Mark participated in the Sprout Producer Program in 2016 gaining valuable knowledge and thoroughly enjoying the year long scholarship. His participation in the SPP highlighted the benefits that Sprout is able to provide to small producers and the community as a whole within Tasmania and he is keen to ensure that others are able to likewise benefit.
Having grown up in Tasmania, Tim’s early career focused on the wine industry where he learnt the trade from Dr Andre Pirie Founder of Pipers Brook Vineyard. He subsequently became the National Sales Manager and then Global Sales Manager for Hamilton Ewell Vineyards (South Australia’s first family of wine).
Returning to Tasmania, Tim’s career focus changed to egg production when he joined Pure Foods Eggs, a member of Australia’s largest private egg production group. In this role Tim gained extensive experience in retail sales dealing with Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and Metcash, and detailed knowledge of the inner workings of primary production businesses. He also inspired the cause related marketing initiative of Devil Eggs, which has supported the University of Tasmania Save the Devil Appeal with ongoing financial support since 2013.
As an Australian Eggs Limited PR and Marketing Committee Member, Tim worked with national supermarket buying groups, consumers and egg farmers to develop ‘ethical codes of practice’ round animal welfare, product innovation and waste. He used this knowledge to enhance customers’ understanding of the systems and processes required to get from paddock to plate, while enhancing on farm innovation and overall business success.
Tim’s more recent experience has been developing bio-energy, waste reduction platforms and product innovation at Huon Aquaculture. This role was aimed at enhancing sustainability and product utilization through the development of vertically integrated systems.
Tim brings over 20 years of knowledge in business, underpinned by a deep understanding and passion of aquaculture and agriculture production.
Board member - Don Thomson
Don Thomson has a diverse background as a farmer, agribusiness entrepreneur, landscape architect, agricultural systems consultant and rural sociologists. He is passionate about ethical and regenerative agriculture that supports vibrant local communities and thriving circular economies. He was a livestock farmer for 28 years, in Victoria and NW Tasmania, but since selling the Tasmanian farm in late 2019 he is focusing on using his design-thinking, research and evaluation skills to help not-for-profits and businesses break through actual and perceived barriers and identify innovative products and new ways of working to achieve more positive economic, environmental and social outcomes.
Board member - Larna Pittiglio
Larna has been a passionate advocate for Tasmanian produce since arriving as a tourist 7 years ago. Having been born and raised in Far North Queensland, she was taken by the Tasmanian landscape, changing seasons and the bounty and diversity of fresh produce, compared to what she had been used to in the tropics.
Larna currently manages her own catering business, Grazing Tasmania, in the Midlands where she focuses on providing transparency for her customers about the source of her ingredients. She is passionate about helping consumers to understand the importance of the stories behind their food and the producers who grow it and believes the choices we make when purchasing our food will determine our future food security.
Since coming to Tasmania, Larna has held roles in engaging consumers with producers, as manager of the Cradle Coast Farmers Market in Ulverstone, working on the committee of the Taste of the North West for 3 years as well as various hospitality and food tourism roles. She enjoys contributing to and understanding better ways to support those in the agricultural industry and currently holds positions on the executive of the Midland Agricultural Association and Tasmanian Women in Agriculture. She is also a Founding Director of the newly formed Tasmanian Producers Co-operative Ltd. Larna would like her time with Sprout to help grow the connections between producers and consumers.
She currently lives on a farm west of Ross with her husband and 15 year old son, where they farm for self-sufficiency and lifestyle. She is the mother of 6 children aged 15 - 30 and has 3 grandchildren.
Tony Scherer, Co-Founder of Sprout also sits on the Board as President.
We would like to thank our past Board Members, who have contributed to where Sprout is today from our inception in 2011:
Deanne de Leeuw