Artisan agriculture project

The Artisan Agriculture project was established to assist the local artisan agriculture sector to navigate operational challenges and thrive into the future.

Artisan agriculture encompasses the production of high value produce or premium food on a small scale or by specialised techniques, and with a clearly identified provenance. It creates a connection between the consumer and producer that allows customers to experience the authenticity and story of the product, in a way that provides direct value to both the producer and the consumer.

Artisan agriculture is a major producer of Victorian food and fibre commodities. It accounts for one quarter of the value of Australia’s total production. Only recently the sector has been acknowledged in a similar way that grains or dairy are with their own unique strengths, challenges, and markets.

The problems the sector experiences at a regional level have recently been identified by the Central Highlands Regional Partnership through community consultation. Like many sectors, some challenges have been further compounded by COVID-19. 

Council successfully acquired funding to lead the Artisan Agriculture Project over three years to:

  • Raise the profile of artisan agriculture producers in Hepburn Shire and greater Central Highlands more broadly
  • Improve financial stability for producers by expanding access to government grants and reducing barriers to finance
  • Increase access to business support services through centralised information and training and mentoring opportunities to build business skills and knowledge
  • Improve access for a more scale-appropriate food regulatory framework
  • Allow better access to shared infrastructure and market distribution channels
  • Increase awareness of competing land use pressures on the sector within local and state government.

For more information please contact Sharon Hebbard, Artisan Agriculture Facilitation Specialist.
M: 0456 610 261.

Project Advisory Group (PAG)

Members were appointed to the Project Advisory Group (PAG) through an Expression of Interest process.

The PAG provides advice on industry trends, barriers faced, and specialist knowledge to increase awareness of the artisan agriculture sector.

PAG members are:

Carmel Masterson – Springmount Foods

Danny Kinnear – Danny’s Farm

Darren Rose – Two Good Acres

Sophie Christoe – Open Food Network

Natalie Hardy – Brookland Free Range Farm

Peter Monea - Morningswood Farm

Janae Paquin-Bowden - Fleurs de Lyonville

Ben Wills - Cloudcroft Farm

Richard Bales – Regional Development Victoria

Angela Clough – Agriculture Victoria

Sharon Hebbard – Hepburn Shire Council

Interviews with producers

Sharon Hebbard has undertaken short conversational interviews with the Artisan Agriculture Project Advisory members. Read the member interviews to find out more about what inspires their small-scale farming passion.


Artisan agriculture business mentor program

Council is offering artisan producers and growers from the Hepburn Shire and Central Highlands region to apply for the FREE Artisan Agriculture Business Mentor Program which will run until all places are exhausted.

The Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS) will provide industry mentoring to support artisan agriculture businesses through a voucher program which offers participants a FREE (up to 90-minute) mentoring session on a specific topic at a time and date that is suitable. The session topics being offered were identified as important to the artisan agriculture sector by the Project Advisory Group and directly by the industry.

SBMS mentors are specifically chosen for their experience, people skills, passion to help businesses succeed, as subject matter experts including marketing, sales, ļ¬nance, manufacturing, retailing, grant applications, business and succession planning.  

SBMS Mentors can assist with:

  • Helping business owners work on their business, rather than just in it
  • Increasing marketing and business planning skills
  • Helping business owners set objectives and direction
  • Improving motivation and confidence
  • Increasing sales and profits
  • Bringing fresh thinking and identification of new opportunities
  • Helping resolve time management issues.

Register now and use the Voucher Code HEP1-21.

Once registered, the SBMS team will review your profile details and contact you with suitable mentors and to arrange a date and time. The business mentoring session may be held either face-to-face or via Skype/ Zoom or telephone as per your request.

Artisan agriculture survey

Council recognises that our farmers, producers and growers are pivotal to our community and the region’s economic growth and are an essential part of what makes Hepburn Shire and the Central Highlands so prosperous and unique.

Council has completed two surveys that will allow us to identify trends and ensure the final stages of the project continues to assist in strengthening the objectives of the program.

View the 2020/21 survey results(PDF, 103KB).

The most recent survey results are being compiled.