Royal Melbourne Show Principal Partner Woolworths has awarded a total of $850,000 in grants and interest-free loans to two family-owned organic farms in the latest round of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund, helping boost future production and bushfire recovery.
Red Plateau Organic Produce, based in Comboyne NSW suffered damage in a 2019 firestorm that swept through the surrounding area, burning more than 40 percent of one of the business’ properties and many of its avocado trees.
A $500,000 grant from the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund will help the business rebuild, ensure water security for the future and invest in increased production with a new coolroom and a cherry picker for harvesting.
Red Plateau was founded by Sandra Fishwick, a long-time organic grower who began producing organic vegetables for wholesale and local markets in the 1980s. She now runs the business with her two sons.
Sandra Fishwick said: “We want to restore our farm to its former glory and will replant and expand with more avocados.
“We have worked hard to make sure that what we have developed will continue for the next generation. Thanks to the grant from Woolworths we will be able to move forward and rebuild at a faster pace.”
The second grower to receive a grant from the latest round of the fund is Bon Accord Organic Citrus, an orchard in Gayndah, Queensland which will use its $350,000 grant to bolster its shift to organic production.
After moving into organics last year, Bon Accord Organic Citrus’ Will and Anna McLay will use the grant to increase production with an expanded orchard and new equipment to better meet the unique demands of organic growing.
The McLays began producing conventional citrus in 2016, and quickly recognised the potential of organic production as a growing market. This led them to diversify with the purchase of a Certified Organic orchard in Queensland’s North Burnett Region last year.
Orchard owner and manager, Will McLay said: “The Australian organic market is growing as consumers are looking for food that is grown in a healthy, sustainable way without chemicals. We believe there is a real opportunity to grow that market.”
Round five of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund is now open and Woolworths is inviting farmers to apply by 18 June 2021.
The Woolworths Organic Growth Fund was established in partnership with Heritage Bank - Australia’s largest customer-owned bank. Woolworths will invest up to $30 million over a five-year period in the form of financial grants and interest-free loans. Any interest-free loans awarded through the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund will be issued by Heritage Bank.