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The Dirt – DECEMBER 2023

Welcome to the December 2023 edition of our seasonal newsletter, where we dish the dirt on the latest comings and goings of Sprout Tasmania.

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The summer flurry is definitely here….I’m sure you are all feeling it too!  

It is an exciting time of year for us here at Sprout.  As we head into the final stages of preparations for our fundraising dinner, Growing Good, and we prepare to graduate and induct the two cohorts of Sprout Producer Program participants, I am reminded of the incredible people that make up the extended Sprout network. You all play your part in supporting the move for change to localise our Tasmanian food system. Keep doing what you are doing!

I cannot tell you how relieved I am that our meat processing scan project gained funding in the most recent round of State Government SIPP grants (see further below in this newsletter for a summary of this). We know this part of our food system has changed over a long period, and consolidation of meat processing is not unique to Tasmania, or Australia for that matter.  It has brought with it amazing opportunities for growth and export of product, but with this consolidation has come a loss or reduction of service provision for many farmers who are keen to keep their product to sell direct to their own customers, under their own brand. 

I am so keen to get stuck into this project, to look at the current state of play in our state, to see where the supply and demand sit in terms of level and geographical placement, risks and opportunities assessment and to look at other models around Australia and internationally which we can learn from.  We will be asking all our producer members who farm livestock for meat, to have their say and inform this project through completion of a survey (yes, I know, it’s another survey, but gosh this is so worth your effort and time….please help us out when the time comes), so we can be data driven in our report and recommendations.  In true Sprout (and Jen) form, we will be having conversations with many people across the full supply chain including Biosecurity Tas, Dept State Growth, TasTafe, logistics operators, butchers, farmers, NRE dept staff and more.  If you are interested to share your thoughts or learn more, feel free to get in touch with Jen via email – jennifer@sprout.org.au 

Ollie has done a stellar job as usual capturing all that is going on both in our paddock and beyond, so I will keep it short this time, and just say keep in touch and I sincerely hope all of you have a safe and restful holiday period. See you in 2024!!

Warm regards,


in our paddock

We are Growing Good once again

Growing Good 2023 takes place in just over a week, and we’re pumped! Once again the team have curated a stunning event, with Stephen Peak leading the kitchen and Laura Dyba the restaurant. This year’s dinner is being held at The Agrarian, and will help us raise much needed funds for Sprout.

Tickets are now sold out, however you can add your name to the waiting list here.

The Growing Good Auction will be launched on December 4. You can place bids on items in the lead up to the event, and then throughout the night. We have an incredible list of items to bid on, from sessions with Polly McGee, to wine from Tony Scherer, from eating experiences at Fork It Farm and Fat Pig Farm, to consultations with Broom and Brine. All the details can be found here.

Remember, this is an online auction, and anyone can be involved, not just those attending the event. In fact, if you’re not at the dinner you have a distinct advantage – you can sit back, and snaffle up items as diners are distracted by good food, wine and award ceremonies! Speaking of which…

The Small Producer of the Year Award. And the winner is…

Fat Carrot Farm!

A huge congratulations to Stan and Briony who deservedly take out the wooden spoon for 2023. The have been runners up several times, so this award is long overdue! But boy was it close. We had a record number of votes, with over 20 farms receiving nominations, and Fat Carrot Farm took out the award by just a solitary vote from Broom and Brine.

As well as the wooden spoon, Stan and Briony also win free tickets to Growing Good, a pair of spanking new Blunnies, and $500 courtesy of our wonderful friends at Blundstone. 

Here are a few of the lovely comments about Stan and Bri that we received from voters:

“We simply could not do what we do without them. Without a shadow of a doubt, one of Tasmania’s finest producers.”

“Most excellent production methods, extreme sharing of info, produce, cooking, mentorship. Talented and knowledgeable beyond belief, yet still humble and always learning. supportive in many ways to new growers, chefs etc. Inspirational to me!”

“These farmers inspire a wide community of growers and eaters with their intellect, passion, values and verve. They actively support younger farmers with advice, encouragement and on-farm experience. They’ve led a highly effective discussion group for a dozen small producers, allowing us to share resources and learn from each other in really significant ways. They’re really nice people. And they grow great veg and demonstrate that you really can make a living wage growing veg on a small plot.”

“Not only are they amazing small scale farming mentors growing delicious produce with climate stabilising methods; they are also community building folks helping grow networks of veg growers supporting each other in Sth Tas. True legends!”

Congratulations also to our runner up producers in Broom and Brine and Old Beach Berries! You all do an incredible job growing amazing produce for your customers and being an integral part of the agricultural community. Thank you for all that you do!

The Sprout Producer Program – old and new

Over the recent weeks Ollie has spent time visiting each producer from the SPP 2023 cohort, discussing potential new enterprises, putting action plans in place, and working on what next year will look like for them and their farms.

We have also concluded our monthly online workshops. A huge thank you to Narelle Jones from Biosecurity Tas, Iain Field from Leap Farm who spoke to the group about biodiversity and the Nuffield Scholarship Program, and Yolanda Hanusch from NRM South who shared her insights into flower feeding insects. 

Meanwhile, we can now announce the participants for SPP 2024. And we are excited to say that through the development of our online LMS, The Sprout Hub, we have been able to grow the program to 12 producers. This will see more peer-to-peer learning, greater outcomes for the farmers involved, and of course for the sector as a whole.

So, the producers taking part in SPP 2024 will be:

  • Abruzzo Farm. Vanessa owns a 50-acre property in Weegena, halfway between Deloraine and Sheffield. She has a background in software development but is now very much a farmer, raising livestock with the aim of being able to sell direct to consumer. She understands that healthy animals come from healthy grass which comes from healthy soil and is looking to gain farming experience and expand her business.
  • Appinoka Regenerative Farming. Nanette and Thomas run a mixed enterprise 14-hectare farm in the Huon Valley. They grow strawberries and vegetables, run sheep and pigs, and having pastured chickens for eggs, selling their produce into their community and to local restaurants. They are hoping to gain further understanding of regenerative practices and build a network of like-minded folk.
  • Bryn Gwyn Farm. Andy is a beginner at the beginning, runs a successful construction company and now owns a 55-acre farm in Forcett in the state’s SE. Having spent time observing the land he is now busy looking at the potential for the property, which may include sheep, pigs, vineyards, and agritourism.
  • Elicia Casey. Elicia runs the market garden and orchard at Government House in Hobart, producing fruit and vegetables for the kitchen at Government House as well as for community programs in conjunction with Eat Well Tasmania, School Food Matters and Loaves and Fishes. She is looking to connect with other producers and share her passion for growing good food.
  • Fat Pig Produce. Keeley is a market gardener in the Huon Valley. Since May she has been running her own business growing for veg box subscriptions, having previously been employed by Fat Pig Farm growing exclusively for the restaurant there. Keeley is looking to build connections, learn from others, increase production, and cultivate her business.
  • Gardners Bay Farm. Phil and Jimmy run a market garden also in the Huon Valley. Phil has farmed for over 20 years, while Jimmy is a chef by trade and relatively new to farming. Until recently they exclusively supplied Port Cygnet Cannery, but with the restaurant’s closure they now run their own business selling via veg boxes and to restaurants in the valley. As Jimmy will admit, Phil has forgotten more about farming than Jimmy knows!
  • Lalla Valley Farm. Rowan owns a 20-hectare slice of land in Lalla, near Lilydale in the state’s NE. He’s been farming for 6 years, growing garlic, farming sheep, and with a horticultural background also grows Christmas trees, natives, and speciality timber trees. He is carefully managing his land, regenerating creeks, while gaining momentum with the business and is looking to take it to the next level.
  • Preston Ridge Free Range Pork. Stella and David run a 140-acre farm in Preston in NW Tassie. Half of their property is actively farmed, and the main enterprise is free-range pigs. They sell their pork direct to consumer through farmers markets and the Tasmanian Produce Collective.
  • Rising Farm. Emma owns a 50-acre property in the Huon Valley and is looking to set it up as a perennial hazelnut orchard. Emma moved to Tassie 3 years ago having been a market gardener and founder of Pocket City Farms, an urban farm and market garden in Sydney. She is community focused and keen to provide opportunities for farmers to lease some of the land she owns.
  • Underwood Park. Ange and Josh run a beef farm on a 110-acre property in the south of the state. Having come from farming families in the UK it is still early days for them farming in Tassie. They have just started selling beef direct to consumer, and farm using holistic grazing practices, and are excited about expanding their network, learning about pasture improvement, and marketing their beef.
  • Tasmanian Buffalo. Phillip and Sheridan run Tasmanian Buffalo, a 60-hectare farm where water buffalo are farmed for meat and dairy. They have an on-farm dairy and cheesery. Phillip is keen to learn more about regenerative farming practices and soil health, as well as work on their marketing for products that we feel deserves a huge amount of recognition!
  • Wattle Wind Farm. Mollie and Emmet are (fingers crossed) hoping to shortly settle on a new property in the Derwent Valley at Gretna. Here they will be farming goats for meat, as well as sheep and cattle, and are keen to introduce an agritourism venture. They are looking forward to gaining more practical experience and confidence as land stewards.

Sprout hits the road – next stop Agfest.

Jen and Ollie have been taking Sprout on the road, exhibiting at the recent Small Farms Expo held as part of the Huon Show and the NRM Small Farm Living Day in Lilydale. We so enjoyed speaking to landholders old and new, and talking about the work we do. Thank you to everyone we chatted to, it was so lovely meeting people and hearing about the challenges you face as well as the enjoyment you get from stewarding land and producing food. 

Exhibiting at both shows has proven to be great practice for what will be our first ever Agfest next May, where we will be part of a special space called Tasmania’s Farming & Food Future Collaboration.

Together with Leah Galvin Consulting, School Food Matters, Eat Well Tasmania, Young Farmers Connect, the Tasmanian Produce Collective, Regenerative Agriculture Network Tasmania (RANT), and Loaves & Fishes, we have created a collaboration of Tasmanian organisations working together for the improvement of our environmental and food landscape into the future. It’s very exciting news, something we’ve been dreaming and talking about for a while now, and can’t wait to start our planning in the new year.

The Strategic Industry Partnership Program (SIPP) – success!

As part of the recent National Agriculture Day celebrations Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jo Palmer announced funding of $850,000 for 12 industry-led projects in diverse primary industry sectors.

Sprout is very grateful to be selected as one of the recipients, with our proposed project to undertake a state-wide review of service kill meat processing.

Small-scale meat farmers in Tasmania underpin much of our paddock to plate tourism experiences, as well as ensuring provision of local produce to the Tasmanian community. 

This is a project we have been trying to get off the ground for 3 years now, and is about reviewing the current state of play in Tasmania, taking a broad lens to ensure it encompasses processing, logistics, butchers, boning rooms and storage, mobile abattoirs, meat inspectors and education.

We want to discover where the gaps are, what the landscape looks like for all steps in the supply chain for service kill meat processing, and provide a final report that has key recommendations about a way forward for de-risking and enabling growth in this sector. There are many models out there, and it will be about finding the right fit for the Tasmanian context. 

Congratulations to all the other successful projects, which include:

  • Supporting the TFGA to continue developing a red meat industry strategic plan, and to support farmers with other issues affecting the dairy and livestock industry;
  • Supporting Wine Tasmania and local wine producers to progress to a net zero carbon emissions future;
  • Continuing to support agribusiness and our post-farm gate sector to promote innovations such as precision agriculture technology and agricultural education pathways through the efforts of Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group;
  • Continuing leadership development for our rural women through Tasmanian Women in Agriculture;
  • Increasing the national and global profile of the Tasmanian crop and pasture seed production industry through the Tasmanian Seed Industry Group;
  • Continuing the industry building activities for the industrial hemp industry through Tasmanian Hemp Association;
  • Strategic marketing and promotion of the Tasmanian Fruit Industry through Fruit Growers Tasmania;
  • Opportunities for students and early career agricultural researchers through the Crawford Fund;
  • Supporting Rural Alive and Well to develop more advocates for promoting the well-being of farmers; and
  • The promotion of a sustainable Leatherwood Honey Industry in the State with the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association.

Board news – welcome Kate and Lisa Jane to the board.

Thank you to all those that attended our AGM in November. And a huge thank you to our co-founder and patron, Tony Scherer, who joined Jen in a short Q&A. It’s always inspiring and great fun to hear Tony speak about the reasons Sprout was set up, the early days of the organisation, and his hopes for Tassie’s food and farming sector.

At the AGM we formally introduced two new board members, Kate Plaschke and Lisa Jane O’Neil.

Kate runs a small farm in the Huon, where she farms pigs, cattle, grows garlic (as well as an extensive veg patch), and works hard to improve the ecology of her soils. She took part in the 2019 Sprout Producer Program, and brings a wealth of experience in areas such as fundraising, social care and education.

Lisa Jane is a public relations and marketing communications professional who recently moved to Hobart. To have someone on the Sprout board with her level of experience in building brands and developing strategies for growth is an incredible win for us.

Your Community


It’s a busy time of year for many organisations. Below is a quick snapshot of workshops and events we want to highlight:

– Future Drought Fund Consultation

In preparation for the next 4-year funding cycle, the Australian Government is seeking feedback on a draft Drought Resilience Funding Plan (Funding Plan), and draft Future Drought Fund Investment Strategy 2024 to 2028 (Investment Strategy). This meeting, hosted by Future Drought Fund, will be held online, from 2pm to 3:30pm on Monday 4 December 2023 AEDT. A MS Teams link will be emailed to those who register. Head here for more details.

– Forthside Research Facility Field Day

TIA are hosting a field day on Monday 11 December. It is a free event with presentations, discussions and field walks focussed on the theme of ‘growing value for cool climate horticulture’.

– NRM South containment feeding workshops

The team at NRM South are running two workshops (one in Ross on Dec 12 and one in Bothwell on Dec 13 with the Derwent Catchment Project through the Farming Forecaster Project. This is a really good opportunity to hear from containment feeding expert Deb Scammell on key design and management considerations and learn about Farming Forecaster and Decision Wizard tools that can help you in your decision-making process.

– Regenerative Agriculture Network Tasmania – Landscape Monitoring Training Day

Ever wondered how to measure the impact of your farm management? In the new year, Regen Ag Tas are hosting a hands-on day in the paddock that will build the knowledge and skills to monitor and take corrective action to rapidly regenerate landscape function. This event is happening on Tuesday 30th Jan 2024 from 10am, at Evandale.

– Small Business Walking the Talk Workshop

SSC (Sky, Sea, Country) will be running two on Country (weather permitting) workshops for small business owners and employees in February 2024. Each workshop will be capped at 12 participants, with small businesses being offered a highly discounted rate of $120 per person. 

In this workshop you can learn about the foundations of creating a bespoke Acknowledgement of Country to reflect your business values and your connection to Aboriginal Tasmania.

The workshops take place on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 Feb 2024 1pm – 4pm at SheOak Point, Rosny (next to Rosny Bowls Club). Email ceo@helenransom.com with the heading Small Business Walking the Talk Booking for more details.


We always like keeping an eye on TIA research projects.

While they are often more targeted for larger scale agriculture, we applaud anything we see that aims to support improved landscape function, and it was interesting to read about a new project they’re working on, around land use in carbon farming.

This project is being led by Dr Rowan Eisner who will conduct a desktop accounting exercise for the Tasmanian livestock sector to explore the economic impact of including land use in carbon accounting. The project will start a conversation about whether land use should be included when accounting for carbon and how that might work in practice, including how metrics and incentive schemes may encourage these practices. For more details head here.


Biosecurity Tasmania have launched a new online beekeeper registration portal called BeeTAS

BeeTAS can be used to: 

  • register or renew their registration
  • maintain their apiary site information 
  • record inspection details, record hive purchases, disposals and hive movements
  • upload training certification and laboratory results

Note, if you have registered as a beekeeper in Tasmania since December 2022, your information has been automatically carried across to the BeeTAS online portal. You will be able to log into BeeTAS using the email you provided when you first registered.

If you require further assistance with registration, have limited online access or have any other BeeTAS queries refer to the BeeTAS user guide which can be found here

Food Safety Supervisors

Business Tasmania have reported that from December 2023, certain food services, caterers and retail businesses must appoint at least one Food Safety Supervisor (FSS).

The role of the FSS is to minimise the risk of illness because of incorrect food handling. The FSS provides expertise and guidance to food handlers in the business by identifying and implementing procedures to address food safety risks.

The need for a FSS depends on the type of food handling activities that occur in your business. An Environmental Health Officer at your local council can tell you if your business must appoint an FSS.

More information is available on the Department of Health website. You can also contact your local council Environmental Health Officer or a food safety officer at the Department of Health on 1800 671 738 or public.health@health.tas.gov.au.

Mental Health Council of Tasmania ‘Take a minute’ campaign

We welcome the new campaign from Mental Health Council of Tasmania. ‘Take a minute’ is designed to empower Tasmanians to take charge of their mental health and wellbeing. It’s about understanding what good mental health and wellbeing looks like and the positive ways we can achieve it.

We often think ‘mental health’ is about recognising when things aren’t going well, and how to respond when that happens. Take a minute flips the script. It gives us the tools to prevent us from becoming unwell in the first place.

Take a minute and the 7 minute challenge were developed by the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, in partnership with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Be Well Co., with support from the Tasmanian Government.

My Climate View

How’s this for another incredible resource!

My Climate View is a free digital product that offers local climate projections for 20 agricultural commodities to help Australian farmers prepare for future climate conditions.

My Climate View is unique among Australia’s agricultural weather and climate tools. It presents past and future climate information all in one place, and it allows farmers anywhere across Australia to access local commodity specific climate information at a 5 km2 grid around or across their properties.

My Climate View is developed by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO as part of the Climate Services for Agriculture program and funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

Feedback from farmers and the agricultural sector across Australia has been used to help develop the product, to understand how it can best support longer-term agribusiness risk mitigation and adaptation planning.

My Climate View can be accessed at www.myclimateview.com.au