The Dirt in AUTUMN 2023
Welcome to the Autumn 2023 edition of our seasonal newsletter, The Dirt, where we dish the dirt on the latest comings and goings of Sprout Tasmania.
I sincerely hope that the summer season has brought an abundance on your property, and perhaps an opportunity to stop and be present with family or friends over the Christmas period.
Here at Sprout, Ollie has been working hard over the summer, preparing for our SPP 2023 cohort to kick start their experience in the program. As part of this preparation, we jumped in the car for a road trip, to visit each SPP participants’ farm across the state, which was wonderful to get in our blunnies and on the ground to see what each farmer is really facing in their day to day lives. You can read more about the SPP 2023 further on in the newsletter.
Our time in the car on road trips is always filled with so much conversation, about random things like the crap tomato season, our kids and school, trampolines…but then the meaty bits of our banter are the best. Ollie and I are both so passionate about this sector of agriculture, about YOU as farmers, and so we share ideas about what the future looks like for Sprout, what we can do that will further support and bolster the farmers we work with, and who else do we need to talk to when being that collective voice for smaller scale farmers. This is when we come up with project ideas, Cross Pollinate themes, workshop topics and more. We feel very lucky to have the Board members we do, who are so engaged in the organisation and in supporting Ollie, Carissa and I in what we do, and our recent Strategic Planning sessions before Christmas are a prime example.
The drive for Sprout this year is to diversify and strengthen our revenue stream to ensure we are sustainable as an organisation into the long-term future. As part of this, I am working on registering Sprout as a Charity through the ACNC and we will also be seeking DGR endorsement from the ATO to ensure we are able to provide tax concessions to those who donate funds.
I am keen to strengthen our relationships within the broader ag and food sectors, to ensure we can connect our members and producers with those that can best help them in whatever area they need assistance. So, if you know of anyone you think I should meet with, then please, drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via 0419 519 296. You know me, I am always up for a chat!
Now it’s time to get our teeth stuck into our two SIPP funded projects. It really strengthens my resolve to see the Tassie State Government supporting our work, as we know it is needed and worthy. Please get in touch about either of these projects if you have ideas, thoughts or questions.
My bedside table & ‘favourites’ list
Each season I thought I’d add what I am listening to or reading about, in terms of my personal development, as sharing this info is so worthwhile. That’s how I learn about these things, through others sharing with me. So at the moment, my work is all around remaining curious and empowering those around me. To keep my advice monster in check and ask lots of questions. If you are interested to know more about this style of thinking, check our Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Advice Trap and The Coaching Habit. Michael was interviewed by Brene Brown which is a good one to listen to as well.
in our paddock
As Jen mentioned in her message, arguably the biggest news in our paddock at present is the announcement from the State Government that we are the recipients of not one but two grants. This funding comes from the Strategic Industry Partnership Program which aims to support innovation in the agriculture sector, and we were thrilled that the two projects we sought funding for were successful.
So, what are these projects?
The first is a continuation of our work in understanding the small-scale farming sector in Tasmania. We conducted our first survey of small producers in 2021 and the data collected has proved invaluable in providing meaningful dialogue with stakeholders and industry bodies and when advocating for the small-scale farming sector. But for producers to be better represented it’s crucial we build on this data. The small-scale agricultural sector continues to grow, and we need to know who is out there doing what, the challenges you are faced with, and what barriers to growth exist, so that we can capture the contribution to the overall ag industry you are making.
In the coming months we will be releasing our 2023 survey and we’d like to ask all the farmers out there, when we send out the survey, please do complete it – it won’t take much time to complete, and it will help us in so many ways.
The second project, ‘Breaking Down the Barriers’, is something we have discussed for a while now, so we are excited to have the funding to undertake it. Unsurprisingly, the 2021 survey identified that access to land and lack of capital were two of the main issues faced, and a barrier especially for emerging and aspiring young farmers. We also know that we have an ageing farming population looking for creative succession plans that keep them living on farm while also ensuring their land stays productive.
Breaking Down the Barriers will examine share farming and tenant farming to address these problems. The project will attempt to support and assist both landholders and prospective farmers, who may not know where to start when it comes to working together and would like to know what models exist that could work for them. The outcomes will be a series of case studies so that people can see what’s being done elsewhere, and we will also generate a toolkit that outlines the key considerations when entering an agreement. We are also employing lawyers to help create contract templates to be used as a reference for these agreements.
We are very grateful to the Tasmanian Government for backing our ideas and can’t wait to get our findings out to you all soon.
Growing Good – what a night!
Wow, it’s now been a whole season since our Growing Good dinner. We had an amazing night at Aura back in early December, thank you to all of those that helped us make it a memorable evening and to everyone who attended and spent big on the incredible auction prizes. You all helped make it a huge success, and we are already looking forward to organising Growing Good 2023.
CROSS POLLINATE – SAVE THE DATE
Speaking of big events, planning is well underway for Cross Pollinate 2023.
We can announce that this year it will be taking place at Moonah Arts Centre in Hobart on Sunday June 25th. The conference will be a day of though-provoking presentations, discussions, networking, and learning, and will be followed by a day of farm tours on Monday June 26th.
Both days will be ticketed separately, keep an eye out for more details in the weeks ahead.
Board news – thank you Justin, and welcome Libby as Chair and Frank as Treasurer
At Growing Good we announced that Justin Birchmore would sadly be stepping down from the board and as Sprout’s Chairperson. Justin worked tirelessly in his role on the board, driving some very positive changes and we can’t thank him enough for all his work.
Stepping into Justin’s Blunnies as Chairperson is Libby Graham. Libby is no stranger to Sprout, having had first-hand experience of the Spout Producer Program when she was part of the 2021 cohort. She is really humbled and excited to take on the Chair role and is keen that Sprout not only continues to provide support for Tasmania’s growing community of small scale food producers, but that it’s able to do this sustainably into the future.
Libby moved to Tasmania in 2012, after a diverse career across a range of industries including start-ups and large corporations. Her experience includes roles in UX design, product management, strategic management and as a founder of several enterprises.
She is super passionate about small-scale food production and moving to a decentralised model where access to nutritious, affordable, and healthy food is available to everyone, and already this year has been instrumental in developing an updated strategic plan for Sprout. Yay!
We’d also like to welcome Frank Barta was our new Treasurer. Frank has an extensive background in finance and governance, working as a senior executive in local government, independent consultant and as a non-executive director of both major and small organisations over many years. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and is Fellow of both CPA Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Frank has always held a strong belief in Tasmania and the special place it holds in the world. His love of quality produce and understanding of how it can change the way we live has drawn him to help support the small-scale producers – and ambassadors – that are the reason for Sprout’s existence. You may have caught him at Growing Good, looking especially snazzy alongside his wife Rosey!
The Sprout Producer Program
The 2023 Sprout Producer Program is off and running. We have an amazing bunch of humans in this year’s program, and a few weeks ago we started things off with an online workshop led by the fabulous Robin Tait. We love Robin’s perspective on soil, weeds, and on her journey within ag, so having her speak to the group was so a wonderful opportunity.
We followed this with a weekend of farm tours, visiting four of the six participants who are all based in the north-west. Jamie and Shelley from Rowelley Farm, Andrea from Hamley, Bronwyn from Dandelion Tasmania, and Ben and Ellie from Seabrook Valley Farm took in turns to host the group, showing us around their farms and opening up on what has brought them to farming, some of the challenges they face, and plans for the future.
This year we are visiting more farms outside the program than ever, and over the weekend we made time to visit Mark Lambert’s organic dairy farm, Mersey Vale Dairies, to learn about some of the regenerative farming practices he employs, as well as Glen Torrie Pastures, a family farm near Wynyard that breeds and raises black Angus cattle. Pippa, Perina and the team at Glen Torrie spoke about their focus on soil and natural resource management, and how they transitioned their business to selling their beef direct to consumers.
It was a great start to what is shaping up to be an exciting program!
The Migrant Resource Centre are seeking produce.
Many of you will be aware of the Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania here in Hobart. MRC Tas supports and empowers migrants and refugees to settle and live fulfilling lives in Tasmania through effective, targeted, and meaningful services, and if you’ve ever been to the Migrant Resource Centre café you’ll know how delicious their food is!
We recently caught up with Phoebe at the centre (they will be catering at Cross Pollinate – yay!!) and she mentioned they are on the lookout for suppliers, especially at this time of year when pickling is high on their agenda. If there are any growers that would like to chat to Phoebe about suppling MRC her contact details are below. They would especially love to chat about any excess they can turn into pickles that maybe donated or sold at reasonable prices.
Social Enterprise Kitchen Operational Supervisor
03 6221 0999 | 0438 739 911
The other SIPP grant recipients
You’ve already heard about the SIPP funding we received, but we also want to mention and congratulate the other grant recipients who all have their own exciting projects ahead of them! These are:
- FermenTasmania – Waste fruit viability project
- Tasmanian Women in Agriculture – Beyond the Farmgate Skills Development Program
- DairyTas – Tasmanian Dairy Farm Manager / 2IC Program
- Tasmanian Seed Industry Group Inc. – Development of the Tasmanian seed industry through the execution of the Tasmanian Seed Industry Group Action Plan
- Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group – A pilot program to develop and test a grower-led agtech adoption framework in Tasmanian agriculture.
Events and workshops
There are a few events and workshops coming up that are worth mentioning.
On Sunday March 5th Stuart Andrews from Tarwyn Park Training will be conducting a Natural Sequence Farming Field Day, hosted by Rachel and David from Ripple Farm in Richmond. Tickets are $50 and available here.
Also on the 5th, and to help celebrate World Wildlife Day, NRM North and Summerlea Farm are holding a Picnic by the River.
A while back, Liz and Rick from Summerlea Farm received funding from NRM North through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program to restore and support habitat for the Giant Freshwater Crayfish. This included fencing, alternative water sources for stock, and nearly 100 volunteers attending community days to plant out thousands of trees along the river of their property in North Lilydale.
This World Wildlife Day, Liz and Rick would like to invite you to see the progress made on the project and how the trees are thriving for a ‘Picnic by the River’. This is an opportunity to enjoy a free sausage sizzle or bring a picnic, sit by the river, and learn all about the project. You can also find out how you can get involved with protecting and restoring river habitat.
Registration is essential – for all details head here.
On Tuesday March 7th NutriSoil together with Soil Tasmania have Joel Williams speaking at a special event in Longford. Joel is an independent soil and plant health educator who is passionate about designing farming systems that prioritise managing soil biology, along with crop & soil nutrition to optimise plant immunity and soil function, for healthy farm production. We recommend booking this asap, tickets can be booked here.
NRM North have some great Small Farm Living Property Planning and LISTmap sessions coming up that will help you to create an online map of your property infrastructure and features experts in land management. Registration is also essential for these sessions, and required by 20 April. More details available here.