The 3 year Artisan Agriculture project was established to assist the local artisan agriculture sector to navigate operational challenges and thrive into the future. The project has now been completed.
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.