The Dirt in SUMMER 2022
Welcome to the Summer edition of our seasonal newsletter, The Dirt, where we dish the dirt on the latest comings and goings of Sprout Tasmania.
This time of year for us at Sprout is always a hive of activity, which I find so exciting. This year in particular my levels of excitement have grown to new heights as we have our inaugural fundraising dinner for the organisation, Growing Good. It is going to be a wonderful night, and I cannot thank everyone involved enough, for their passion, expertise and ongoing commitment to making this event work. It has been a real team effort.
Speaking of fundraising, brings me to an important development for Sprout which we have been working on, and those of you at the AGM will know of this already. In order for Sprout to continue to diversify our income streams into the future, we are forging ahead with our registration with the ACNC as a registered Charity. Alongside this, we are also applying for DGR endorsement through the ATO, as an environmental organisation. I know these two registrations will open new doors and conversations for Sprout when seeking connections and collaborations with potential donors. Much of the work we do has beneficial environmental outcomes for Tasmania as we are supporting and empowering farmers who farm sustainably with people care, environment care and business care as their main pillars.
Watch this space, as we transition the organisation through this very exciting phase.
More than ever this year, it has become very apparent to me that even though Sprout supports small scale farmers, with this support can sometimes come a level of unintended pressure that weighs heavily on our scholarship recipients. Ollie and I have had many conversations (while on our long drives to beautiful parts of our state) about how important the people care part of our ethos needs to be. Farming is hard, and it is a long-term game. We know this. So we are going to work very hard from now on, to be sure to put the people, our producers, first in every situation and hold the space for them to move along their chosen path at the right pace. Farming has one of the highest rates of suicide amongst many industries, and we don’t want this to continue this way. We will foster an environment here at Sprout where vulnerability is the norm, it’s ok, whether you are a 22 year old young female sole farmer, or you are a 65 year old male farmer and anywhere in between…be vulnerable; we all make mistakes and it’s ok to ask for help. Sprout is a part of your village and we are here, holding the fabric together.
Best wishes to you all for a wonderful summer for 2022, have a safe holiday season, and we will be writing again the New Year.
See those of you who are coming on Monday evening.
in our paddock
Growing Good – A celebration of produce and people
For Jen and Ollie, the last few weeks have been dominated by preparing for our Growing Good dinner event, which as this newsletter goes out is only a few days away.
Growing Good is our annual fundraising dinner event, held this year at AURA in Hobart. We have the incredible talents of Stephen Peak, Lilly Trewartha, Massimo Mele and Analiese Gregory cooking for us, serving produce collected from a range of Tassie’s finest small-scale producers. It’s no wonder tickets sold out within a week!
Not that we’ve been alone in working on it. Thanks to our amazing group of volunteers, to the producers that are supplying the dinner, the chefs, and the team at Aura, Jen and I have really enjoyed curating what we are confident will be an incredible evening. A very special thank you must go to Stephen for all his help co-ordinating produce and working with the chefs – it’s been such a pleasure working with you!
As well as enjoying delicious food, we have lots happening throughout the night including…
The Growing Good Auction
We have now gone live with our Growing Good auction, which will close towards the end of the dinner. Funds raised by the auction will help us continue our work supporting Tasmanian small-scale farming including our programs and advocacy work, and with a staggering suite of items to be won we’re hoping we might hit the $10,000 figure!
It’s important to realise that the auction isn’t limited to those coming to the dinner. Anyone can bid, simply head here, scroll down to the auction section and click on the link. This will take you to our live auction site where you can view all the items up for auction. Amongst the list there are some wonderful experiences, such as a Fat Pig Farm feast, a Paddock Picnic at Fork It Farm, a Sunset Farm tour at Summerlea Farm, and a Friday Fling at Street Eats Frankos. We have Milkwood Permaculture courses to bid on, a private tour of Government House and the incredible gardens, a lunch with Luke Burgess at Rocky Top. There’s even some priceless wines being donated by our co-founder Tony Scherer.
Small Producer of the Year Award – and the winners for 2022 are…Fork It Farm!
On the night, we will be presenting the winner of the Small Producer of the Year with their prizes. You may have seen on our socials that this year the award was taken out by the incredible Fork It Farm. We had a record number of votes for this year’s award, which just goes to show how valued our small-scale producers are, so a big thank you to everyone that voted! Special mentions go to Fat Carrot Farm, Broom and Brine, Westbae Pastoral, Leap Farm and Old Beach Berries, who all narrowly missed out on taking out the gong.
Daniel and Kim of Fork It Farm will be presented with the traditional wooden spoon, carved out of apple wood from the orchard of last year’s winners, Our Mates’ Farm. As well as the spoon, they will also be presented with vouchers for two pairs of Blundstone boots, $500 in cash courtesy of Blundstone, and free tickets to the dinner.
The Sprout Producer Program
As summer approaches it slowly dawns on us that we’re coming to the end of our time with this year’s SPP cohort. And what a wonderful bunch of humans we’ve had this year.
Recently, we had the opportunity to take some of this year’s cohort to visit the market gardens of Broom & Brine and Fat Carrot Farm. It was a privilege to see both farms, to learn more about the context in which they both farm, and to discuss what they’ve learnt in their time as market gardeners. Thank you to Bri, Stan, Grace and Dylan for being so open and happy to work with our producers, and so willing to share your knowledge and expertise.
For Jen and me it was yet another reminder of how lucky we are to have such amazing small producers in all corners of Tasmania.
In October, we held the final field day of the year. Old Orchard Farm, run by Christie Lewis and her partner Alex, is a small-scale sustainable market garden in Port Huon. On what was a paddock in 2019, stands a 1300m2 market garden that grows a huge range of vegetables and herbs. Around the edges of the garden is a border of fruit trees, perennial herbs, edible flowers, and native plants to provide food and habitat for birds and beneficial insects. To see the progress that Christie and Alex have made (with little to no previous experience of market gardening!) is absolutely staggering.
After a tour of the market garden, we headed to the deck of their house and overlooking the Huon River we discussed their journey from city dwellers to market gardeners, taking a look at what’s working, what’s not working, their future plans, and what success might look like in 5 years’ time.
In the afternoon we hopped, skipped, and jumped down to Geeveston, where Matt Tack presented a workshop on small farm financial planning. Here we discussed how important it is to allocate scarce resources and your time to ensure good decision making. We even got time to walk amongst the apple blossom and say hi to piglets!
Out with the old, in with the new. In a nice way, of course!
At Growing Good we will be presenting the 2022 cohort with certificates to recognise their completion of the Sprout Producer Program. It’s going to be sad not seeing as much of them all next year, but as part of the SPP alumni and Sprout family we know we’ll be seeing plenty of them in the years to come.
So as 2022 fast approaches what does the Sprout Producer Program look like in 2023? Well, we are stoked to announce the six producers that will be part of the program next year. In alphabetical order they are:
- Dandelion Farm. Bronwyn is in the process of setting up her farm in the north-west of the state. She calls herself a beginner at the beginning, but has some wonderful plans.
- Hamley Pty. Andrea Scott grows tomatoes in a large hothouse close to Devonport, as well as garlic and salad greens.
- Rowelley Farm. Jamie and Shelley are sheep farmers from North Motton, near Ulverstone.
- Seabrook Valley Farm. Ben and Ellie farm cattle in Tassie’s north-west.
- Sparrow Foot Farm. Ines and David are market gardeners and egg producers from the Huon.
- Tassie Seeds. Abbey is a seed producer and market gardener from Bridgenorth.
They will be formally inducted into the program at Growing Good, and you will be learning much more about them over the coming weeks as we introduce them all in more detail on our socials.
New board member – Frank Barta
We would like to take a moment to introduce our latest board member, Frank Barta. Frank has taken over from Sue Cutler as our treasurer, he has big boots to fill but he certainly has all the credentials to do a wonderful job. Welcome to the board Frank!
The Sprout Hub
Don’t forget that if you are a member, you have free access to the Sprout Hub.
What is the Hub, I hear you ask? Good question! Put simply, it is our online learning and sharing environment, where Sprout members can access useful on-farm and off-farm education material and resources including free access to nine of our core courses.
If you have recently signed up as a member, you should have received a welcome email inviting you to set up a password for the Hub, (check your spam if you didn’t receive it, or get in touch and we will resend the email). Once this has been done you have access to all the fun stuff!
Launching the Hub was a big project for us this year, funded by a grant received as part of the State government’s Strategic Industry Partnership Program Covid-19 Recovery program, and we are extremely proud of what we achieved. We feel that it is a unique resource for the small-scale farming sector, and that there’s nothing quite like it in the country, so please explore the system and feel free to send us feedback as we’re always looking for ways to improve it.
Market Gardener Institute Partnership
During Spring we partnered with the wonderful folk at JM Fortier’s The Market Gardener Institute to bring members special group pricing for their Masterclass. We were stoked to see some amazing gardeners sign up for the course and I’m told it’s been very worthwhile.
We may have the opportunity to run the discount again in Autumn, so if you are interested please contact Ollie at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
AGM annual report out now
At the start of September, we held our AGM, and our annual report can be found on our website here.
Pilot Soil Monitoring Incentives Program (PSMIP)
If you haven’t come across this before, the federal government currently has a program in which land managers may be eligible for benefits of up to $10,000 and will receive assistance from soil extension officers in interpreting their soil results.
The program closes 30 June 2023 and testing can be linked into participation in the ERF (Emissions Reduction Fund). Some useful links to find out more are below.
If you were affected by the floods in October, there are two ways you may be eligible to apply for support.
Firstly, the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off lump sum payment to help people seriously affected by the floods (note, this is not for minor damage or inconvenience). It is applicable for people within the following Local Government Areas (LGAs):
- Central Coast
- Meander Valley
The Disaster Recovery Allowance provides support if you’ve lost income as a direct result of the floods and is applicable for people within the following Local Government Areas (LGAs):
- Break O’Day
- Central Coast
- Central Highlands
- Circular Head
- George Town
- Meander Valley
- Northern Midlands
- West Coast
- West Tamar.
For more information and to find out if you are eligible head to www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/disaster
The co-op Federation are hosting a couple of interesting looking events in early December.
‘How Can Co-ops change the World?’ is the first session, hosted at Mathers House from 5.30 – 6.30 pm on Thursday, 8th December. Tickets are available here and cost $10.
This will be followed by ‘Co-op Board Governance’ which is an intensive day of professional development for new and experienced directors, managers, and members of co-operatives. It will be held on 9th December from 10 am-4 pm, at the WOTSO workspace on Macquarie Street (just near Service Tas). Click here for all information.
Battery powered tools, the Global Cooksafe Coalition, and electric farm vehicles
We loved a recent social media post from Fat Carrot Farm where they discussed how they have been changing their farm and garden tools to battery powered. Their batteries are charged during the day from their solar system, and while they make the point that batteries still have embodied energy, research suggests it is better to convert now. Are you slowly making the change to battery powered tools?
Related to this, you may have also seen the recent launch of the Global Cooksafe Coalition. The GCC exists to promote universal access to safe and sustainable cooking in OECD countries by at least 2030 in new buildings and 2040 in existing buildings, and in all buildings worldwide by 2045. That means universal access to affordable, energy-efficient cooking appliances, powered by rapidly decarbonising grids or distributed renewable energy. Good friends of ours Luke Burgess, Analiese Gregory and Rodney Dunn were all present as ambassadors, and we’d recommend you check out GCC’s work.
Then there’s electric vehicles. We all know EVs are making their way onto Australian roads. But when will we start to see more EVs on our farms? In what timeframe will electric heavy machinery become available? What infrastructure will be required to ensure that farmers and rural Australia are equipped to deal with this new demand?
Farmers for Climate Action are hosting a webinar on Thursday 8 December where you will hear from Stephanie Gersekowski (John Deere) and Ross De Rango (Electric Vehicles Council), who will share what is on the horizon for electric farm vehicles and what will be needed from our energy systems to make the most of these opportunities. Head here to find out more and to register for the webinar.
We have recently come across Bio-edge Soil, a new soil biology testing lab in the Huon Valley. Run by William Edge, a certified Soil Food Web lab technician, they offer a biological soil analysis service to help you learn more about the life and potential in your soil. Head to their website http://bioedgesoil.com.au/ to learn more!
Farm Gate Market – looking for stalls
The team at Farm Gate Market, good friends, and wonderful supporters of ours, are looking for fresh food stall holders. So, if you are a farmers who grows or produces fresh food – be it greens, tomatoes, potatoes, brassicas, stone fruit and berries, lamb, beef ….. the list could go on – then they want to hear from you!
As a bit of background, Farm Gate Market is a weekly farmers’ market that operates every Sunday in the centre of Hobart. The market plays a vital role in Hobart’s food security system, servicing between 4000 – 5000 local customers weekly. With an increase of sea and tree changers to Hobart their customer base continues to grow.
Their principles are simple – if you can’t eat it, drink it or grow it, then you can’t sell it. Only the producer can sell, and everything must be produced within Tasmania.
Over the past few years, they have had some key farmers that attend Farmy either retire and have others where retirement is on the cards. As such they need to plan ahead and find a new team of farmers to ensure that the market can continue to meet the demand of their customer base. They’ve spent 13 years shifting purchasing habits away from the Big 2 to local supply and, neither industry or them as operators can afford to see that ground lost.
Farmy has proven results in terms of a consistent, weekly, revenue stream that can be injected directly back into increasing production, and barriers to entry are low:
- a standard site 3m x 3m is $115.50 incl GST
- no additional investment into admin or marketing is required
- there is no lock in period for attendance i.e if you have a crop for a month then that works for us
- they understand that you all have to start somewhere, meaning you don’t need a whole lot of produce to attend – this is about growing small business
So, if you’re interested, please contact either Jo or Madi to have a chat on 0408 543 179 or, head to their website at www.farmgatemarket.com.au
I (Ollie) read with interest of a ‘food day’ held during the first week of Cop27, the first ever dedicated day to agriculture and adaptation in a Cop. As pointed out by the Guardian, this ‘is mind-blowing given that a third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from industrialised food systems and the devastating effects the climate crisis is having on farming and food security’.
Here are some facts for you:
- According to UN research, about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the food system – 71% of those are down to agriculture and land use change (deforestation, fertilisers, methane emissions)
- Subsidies play a major role in deciding what and how food is produced, yet according to the UN at least 90% of the $540bn in global food subsidies have been deemed harmful to the planet.
- Despite this, how subsidies are handed out was not on the Cop agenda. Stephanie Haszczyn from the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) initiative states that ‘subsidies are a major change agent. They make it hard for farmers to make changes and stop consumer driven market changes from naturally taking place’, while Patty Fong from the Global Alliance for the Future of Food went on record to say ‘farmers are locked into an industrialised system and can’t get out of it. We are eroding sophisticated traditional knowledge about Indigenous varieties and weakening community resilience. Neither farmers nor consumers are benefiting.’
- Only 3% of public climate finance has so far gone to food, and the announcements from Cop27 suggested that much of the new money coming out of it will be from the private sector. However, the agenda seemed to focus on making industrialised agriculture bigger, with more support for fossil fuel fertilisers and large agri-business with tech-driven solutions that will largely tinker with the current industrialised systems rather than push transformative change.
Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the conversations that took place during the day were seemingly dominated by big corporations, and it was obvious that the small and medium scale farming sectors did not play much part in any discussions or negotiations.
It is with great sadness that our newsletter again ends with a tribute. You may have heard the news that Matt Crane from Strelleyfield Farm passed away in October. Matt was a dedicated producer, passionate about the ducks he farmed, generous with his time and knowledge, and will be sadly missed by all those knew him.
Remember, if you or someone you know is experiencing any kind of distress, or hardship you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 13 46 36 or Rural Alive and Well on 1800 RAW TAS.