We are writing to you as constituents, businesses and producers that are involved in the organic industry across Australia. We ask you to support the future of our country’s clean and green reputation, and the urgency in preserving our ecosystems and local food security. The organic industry provides a model for the rest of agriculture, that is localised, transparent and without the additional dependency or high externality costs of conventional agriculture. Our industry needs your support – and we look forward to adding your voice to our charter.
For too long Organics had been thought of as a niche market or component of Agriculture, but if one takes a world view instead of looking at the microcosm of Australia, we have entities such as the EU wanting to transition 25% of their Agriculture to Organics by 2030 via The Green Deal and Farm to Fork initiatives
Organic and regenerative farming systems can:
provide a neutral or positive environmental impact with added benefit of providing co-benefits to the environment and humanity
help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts that are already proven by scientific publications
reverse the loss of biodiversity via organic standard provisions and verified by academia indicating 30% more biodiversity on organic farms
ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food production systems that have been vetted by good science.
preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the international supply sector and promoting fair trade
In so doing Organics addresses triple bottom line objectives including:- – Organic Farming enables and accelerates the transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. Government investment is required to address deficiencies in advisory services, financial instrumentsand more importantly participatory research and farmer led innovation are needed instrumentally as they can help resolve tensions, develop and test solutions, overcome barriers and uncover new market opportunities.
Value of the organic sector in Australia $3.65B(AU) and worldwide over $88B(AU)
Urgency of climate change and the direct impact on agriculture sector
Importance of biodiversity value and enhancement on private land
Synergy across different sectors including energy, agriculture, health
Rewarding land stewardship through ecosystem management outcomes
Pioneering industry and independent of Government (historically)
Established Net-Zero pathway for agriculture and business to transition
Key Requests from the Organic & Biodynamic Industry to the Federal Government:-
Rewarding producers for their ecological stewardship together with a simple mechanism to ascertain and transition carbon footprint beyond Net-Zero in agriculture and business
Ascertaining a biodiversity value on farmland and conversation area (private & public land)
State recognised Government bodies that support the growth of organic agriculture
Facilitate a Sensitive Site register provided by State Governments as part of ‘right to farm’
Endorse a roadmap in climate resilience, adaptation and long term business resilience planning for regional communities & local economies.
Invest in Research & Development for key biological outcomes across the agriculture sector
Provide regular and rigorous data capture through ABARES with tailored organic data for on-farm production, business, supply and export.
The time is now….
Agriculture in Australia is at a crossroads. Producers are attempting to increase their yields with reducing on-farm profitability while managing higher climate risk exposure than ever before. We need to capture premium markets (like organics) and empower producers with better business profitability and diversified income streams. Our Country needs best in class producers that are resilient against natural disasters and rewarded with better crops, profitable and diversified businesses, healthier and improved natural ecosystems. We need to review the existing farming model that reflects a more sustainable and resilient farming infrastructure that invests in the next generation of producers, better markets with full consideration of the impact on the environment.
True cost of ecosystem services in our waterways, agricultural land, biodiversity and food production should be clearly understood and be a driver of change
Research and Education on the importance of carbon reduction, repurpose and offset to underpin regional resilience and transition agriculture beyond net-zero
Opportunity to strengthen cross sector links between health, education, agriculture & economics
Structures that underpin the food security of our country ahead of dependency on large scale, low value commodity markets that may be affected by external pressures
We are calling out to communities, businesses and farmers to continue to support bushfire affected organic farmers. ORICoop continues to walk with these farmers – and we need your help! You can register to volunteer for the upcoming ‘Organic Farm Blitz’, with a farm close to you. You can also contact us to coordinate an event, make seedpods, plant &/or grow seedlings or build native animal boxes. And we will ensure they get to your nearest bushfire affected farmers! EAST GIPPSLAND VOLUNTEERS You can join Chris & Christine from Blue Sky Organics, to assist them to plant trees, weed, and lend a hand in East Gippsland, not far from Bruthen over the coming months. And to assist with the planting of their 2021 crop in the Autumn (April & May). You can complete an Expression of interest HERE to register your interest directly with Blue Sky Organics in East Gippsland, and make sure you include when you are available over the coming months. Chris & Christine will be in touch with those that register directly. During time in East Gippsland last February a few keen volunteers rallied to assist Soorya from Ontos Organics sort and process his garlic crop after he and his family were burnt out in January last year. Soorya runs a mixed organic farm, incorporating garlic, heritage seed and goats on their family farm. You can assist Ontos Organics farm, and learn about heritage seed and garlic harvesting by REGISTERING HERE. Work required includes weeding, sorting, processing and their ongoing recovery work. It may be that you can help both Blue Sky and Ontos Organics over a weekend or visit to the wonderful Gipplsand Lakes region. BEGA VALLEY – NSW VOLUNTEERS Kaye & Gregg Saarinen of Saarinen Organics, from the Bega Valley were tragically burnt out over Black Summer. They grow organic herbs, and make lovely organic face and hand creams and salves from these products. They also utilise full solar in their processing, a unique and truly carbon neutral business model! They have much to rebuild – and are calling out for teams of 5-10 people to assist them to restore their fencing and rebuild their garden area over the coming months. If you are interested, you can complete an Expression of Interest HERE with Saarinen Organics farm located in the Bega Valley, and include when you are available. MID NORTH COAST – NSW VOLUNTEERS Plateau Organics (near Wingham) are situated on the Mid North Coast in NSW, a stunning certified organic farm high on the plateau. One of the leading certified organic avocado and citrus producers in the region. We are keen to rally a small team of helpers to assist them in their rebuild, as they were devastated by fires on two seperate fire events last year. The work includes clearing around the trees, mulching and fertilising. This farm is remote, beautiful – and worth the time to experience such a plateau! Self contained accommodation is required for any interested volunteers and 4wd for access only. (or you can contact owners for further opportunities) You can complete an Expression of Interest HERE directly with Plateau Organics (located in NSW) Ideally they are looking for 1 or 2 keen singles or couples for 3-4 days between February & April, for mulching of trees, pruning and bushfire recovery of the fruit orchard. BRAIDWOOD (Sthn NSW) VOLUNTEERS Christina and John from PRANA produce need help to clean up wood after the fires, weeding and clearing areas that were bushfire affected. Ideally people that have their own tools (gloves, secateurs, even a wheelbarrow) and are keen to offer their hands and hard work for a day or two! A Saturday or Sunday in March would be fantastic. Happy with a few keen people or even a group of 20 could be of use. Lunch included.
You can complete an Expression of Interest HERE for Prana Produce (near Braidwood) If there is not a farm in your area included – but you are keen to be involved, you can register your interest via our Volunteer Register HERE. There will be more Organic Farm Blitz opportunities over the coming months and will notify all those registered first. We are also considering having some city based events – where you can plant seeds, make seed bombs or native animal boxes. Contact us if you are interested to be a host or fundraising champion! Over the past year the Organic Farmers Bushfire Appeal has continued to support these farmers along their recovery journey. With donated inputs, professional organic farm advisory, soil tests, donations of trees, coordinating online zoom calls between affected farmers, and enabling the farmers to share their stories, we are incredibly grateful for the time we have spent with each of the farmers. And to all the businesses that have offered financial, personal and physical support. We want to give a huge shout out to the following supporters of the Organic Farmers Bushfires Appeal, that have donated towards the ongoing recovery of many of these farmers.
Dr Bronner – including their most recent appeal over January/February 2021
CERES – dedicating $5/box last Summer and providing facilities to process the garlic
BCCM – Bushfire Appeal grant funds to further extend the appeal
Eva Perroni – for her ongoing storytelling capacity for these farmers
Jade Miles – for hosting our zoom connect meets for our farmers
And …. our Bushfire Committee (Antony, Hugh, Christine & Carolyn) that have steered this ship through the seas!
ORICoop is pleased to continue working with many businesses across different steps of the bushfire appeal. We are calling for sponsors interested to support these Organic Farm Blitz projects as per above. Any donations can be tax deductible, thanks to the generous support from Australian Mutuals Foundation (select bushfire appeal)Your business can get involved by:-
Sending a team to a farm for a team building weekend (teams of 3 – 20 welcome)
Donating/sponsoring the food required for each weekend (organic of course)
Any other suggestions contact us at email@example.com – and show your support for these courageous farmers! We honour and celebrate these farmers, for their courage, resilience and digging deep over the past year. We encourage you to remember and reach out to them. Buy some of their product or volunteer a weekend with your workplace to lend a hand.ORICoop Bushfire Committee
“Never has it been more necessary to find solidarity with those whose values align and more important to garner skills from those who have beaten the path before us. ORICoop with the support of BCCM have created an online workshop series to help us all build skills and community. With a 90% subsidy being offered by BCCM, a broad range of topics, guest speakers and interactive Q and A time on each gathering, its a low cost, high value offer that can all be booked and undertaken online by clicking here – book into one or all five”
The Co-operative Farming program offers a 90% bursary for this course. You can find out more and apply at https://coopfarming.coop/learn/educational-bursaries/. Subject to approval, you will receive a discount code that you should apply at the checkout, this will ensure your payment is reduced to 10%.
1. Community driven business structures – Thursday 3rd Dec 6.30pm-7.45pm 2020 and Thursday 10th December 6.30pm – 7.45 2020
Eager to connect with your fellow growers and find ways to get your food to a local, engaged and appreciative audience. Hear from those who’ve trodden this path already, hear first hand about their wins, challenges, growing pains and opportunities. Most importantly ask the questions which allow you to consider what will work for you and meet other growers and producers on a similar trajectory.
2. Getting to Know Your Region and Community – 4th February 6pm – 7.45pm and 11th Feb, 6pm – 7.45pm
While every community beats to a different drum, many follow similar patterns and the insights of others who’ve observed and engaged in community building is a valuable process to support you in your existing efforts or as a foundation of knowledge before you begin. Meet food system pioneers, leapfrog with their learnings and kickstart or reboot your own efforts to work collaboratively as a whole community.
3.Taking Your Collective Business Online – 25th March and 1st April, 6pm – 7.45pm
While we know the increasing influence of online marketplaces, Covid showed us just how powerful it can be for farmers wanting to diversify their paths to market, work collaboratively and be the price maker for their hard grown produce. Learn practical skills, loopholes and opportunities from those who’ve done it and specialise in supporting you to do it too.
4. Resilience in Your Business – 22nd April 2021, 6pm – 7.45pm
Business stability is about being diverse yet focussed, nimble yet strategic, committed yet open to change, having an excellent relationship with your market and always looking to the horizon of innovation and adaptation. Learn from farmers who’ve developed business plans in consideration of these complexities and seek advice and guidance relevant to your specific farming and business needs.
5.Transitional Ownership Pathways to next generation, 13th May 2021, 6pm – 7.45pm
Succession planning is one of the single greatest threats to farming enterprises yet when undertaken successfully, one of the most powerful and rewarding aspects. The complexity of building a successful succession plan is a well trodden path and our expert panel will share a diverse range of case studies of well executed plans, and some of the common pitfalls.
The Organic and Regenerative Investment Co-operative (ORICoop) is focussed on bringing together farmers, friends and businesses for the better. ORICoop exists to increase the productivity and profitability of organically and regeneratively managed land in Australia, while supporting farmers to be better land stewards of our ecological farming systems. We support organic and biodynamic farms to transition their agricultural businesses for the better. This builds a more resilient Australian food and farming economy that can change the way our farmers do business … for the long term.
WHAT IS THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF YOUR BUSINESS?
We are excited to announce the creation of a direct Business-to-Farm carbon and ecological offset.
Bringing together farmers interested to drawdown carbon – and in the process offset the carbon footprint of business. Eco-Credits™ are a credible and definable instrument to measure ecological health, whilst enabling business to OFFSET their carbon footprint. A true WIN-WIN between conscious businesses and ecological farm stewards, that supports our planet for the long term better.
ORICoop has created Eco-Credits™ so conscious businesses and individuals can offset their carbon footprint, with direct, measurable and tangible outcomes. Eco-Credits™ are deployed to selected organic farmers who commit Eco-Credits™ to their farmland. These credits are independently and annually verified using the latest technology and measurement parameters. Each business receives a report provided by the collective of farm contributors each year – detailing what the Eco-Credit™ collective outcome has achieved in terms of carbon offset and ecological health.
Eco-Credits™ – ‘An ecological and farmer driven market instrument that offers a pathway to a stronger and more robust organic farming industry. That is empowered to withstand market pressures on farm production systems, together with sustainable and measured outcomes. Demonstrated via shorter supply chains, better food security, reliable market data, and a transparent market that enables farmers to achieve the best value for their work.’
Vitalise capital to connect business, food and farming for better long term outcomes
Enable farmers to benefit from the value of natural capital in their farming systems
Connect business and individual carbon offsets directly to farmers
Align with accredited stewardship measures and outcomes
HOW CAN FARMERS REGISTER FOR the ECO-CREDIT™ PROGRAM?
Farmers around Australia have a massive opportunity to draw down carbon into their farms both above and below ground through best practice ecological stewardship. Farmers can be rewarded for improving the land that they manage, and the carbon that is sequestered terrestrially via biodiversity enrichment and through an increase in soil organic carbon. Eco-Credits™ are deployed directly to organic and regenerative farmers – that are committed to increase the amount of carbon stored in their soil and to honour the value of water, soil, ecological health and biodiversity in their organic and agroecological farming systems.
Key measurable outcomes of Eco-Credits™ include:
Increase in sequestered carbon in soil, trees and biomass
Increase in biodiversity quality, area and ecosystem health
The stories are shadowed right now by COVID – 19, but we know these bushfire affected farmers are rising from the ashes, and their resilience will be a shining light to all of us. We are thinking of the regional communities affected by bushfires, and their impending risk and impact of the virus on their people and place. May strength and resilience be our friends through these uncertain times.
As these farmers take stock and move forward with their recovery journey – it has been incredible to see the photos of the greening orchards, the response to the rains, and natures’ assurance of ‘it’s going to be ok’. And how the environment has a way of it’s own in recovery, some of which we don’t give her credit for. At least not to the extent we should!
The great outcome from the Organic Farmers Bushfire Appeal, has been connecting some of the leading biological and organic consultants together, to nut out the best process and plan for recovery for these organic farmers. As these farmers recover, we look forward to sharing their stories, and the journey of their soil, farm and businesses being restored.
The first steps to recovery for any farm post bushfires, or other natural disasters is assessment. Both physically, biologically, and above the ground.
All these farmers have been encouraged to follow this process, outlined by Gerhard HERE. These steps can be followed by any farmers looking to become more aware of the biological strengths and weaknesses of their soils. These key steps include:-
Once these tests are done – you can put all three together to obtain an accurate picture of the effects of the bushfire, both on the biological response, and the nutrient load or bank. It has been really interesting seeing these results come through for each of the bushfire affected farmers. And the diversity of farm systems (all organic), together with the expertise of the farmers themselves (some with more than 30 years of experience in organic farm systems), with the biological consultants. If you are interested to engage with any of these specialist consultants, you can contact us directly and we will put you in touch. You can also join the Organic & Biodynamic Farmers Facebook group – to ask any questions of your fellow farmers.
I was privileged to join a call between Gerhard Grasser and Greg Paynter, both pioneers and long term supporters of the organic industry. Highly experienced in soil agronomy, biological principles, organic standards and sustainable growing systems. Together they discussed the latest soil and biology tests for each of the farmers, the way that the Bushfire Appeal funds could be best utilised to get the most efficiency from the existing nutrients from the results, and to restore the biology to support the tree and soil systems over the long term.It is so clear that there is not one single answer. That every farm is different. That every farmer has a different response. The one aspect that is clear – is that together we are better. Together when farmers can share their stories of fire affected pastures and orchards, when leading consultants can liaise together to learn from each other’s strengths – that is when our industry has the opportunity to grow and prosper. We look forward to fostering that. More and more.
ORICoop is proud to have stepped forward to assist these farmers in their hour of darkness. And we will put together these stories as case studies for future farmers to use. And we hope that with each natural disaster, we can build case studies of resilience, or ways that farmers have used natural means to work with nature, and to see restoration as a journey, not a destination.
If you are a bushfire affected organic or biodynamic farmer – make sure you have applied to the Organic Farmers Bushfire Appeal. Due to COVID-19, it has been agreed that the Appeal applications will close mid-April. So the funds raised can offer direct assistance to those that need it. And see their farms through recovery. As much as possible.
** We would like to take this moment to thank all our biological consultants for their efforts to date. Offering pro-bono support to these bushfire affected farmers. And to EAL and AgPath for offering their soil & biology tests at cost to these affected farmers (cost covered by bushfire appeal funds).
In conclusion. It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the postponement of our ALL volunteering events for bushfire affected farmers until further notice. We are saddened to have cancelled all the volunteer projects in the pipeline – due to COVID-19 risk.
The overriding need for ORICoop is to display social responsibility and enact the Ethic of Care for People, both those volunteering and the affected farmers. The idea of spending time around other people practicing social distancing on farm volunteer weekends, cooking and eating dinners together and close proximity is too complex and risky for all. And really… no contact affects much of the intention and purpose of our volunteer projects. We are really sorry. Both to the hundreds of keen volunteers, but mostly to the bushfire affected farmers, that were all looking forward to hosting these projects, and seeing works done in their road to recovery.
Thanks to the many good folk that helped promote these events and we’ll be back in touch with some alternative dates in the springtime. Thanks especially to Penny & Amy, for all their work in pre-planning and promotion of these events.
We are all in this together. Thank a farmer for your next meal! Share this blog with your friends – we are stronger together.