Victoria is a major producer of food and fibre commodities, accounting for approximately one quarter of Australia’s total agricultural production (by value). Artisan agriculture has only recently been acknowledged as a sector in a similar way that grains or dairy are acknowledged as being sectors with their own unique strengths, challenges and markets. Consequently, the problems the Artisan Agriculture Sector are experiencing have only recently been identified both at a regional level through community consultation by the Central Highlands Regional Partnerships. Some of these challenges have been further compounded by COVID-19 and this project is in a unique position to assist the sector through the challenging economic times ahead.
The sector 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.
Hepburn Shire Council successfully acquired funding to lead the Artisan Agriculture Project over three years to provide support to the sector in the following areas to;
- Raise the profile of the Hepburn Shire and greater Central Highlands Artisan Agriculture Producers more broadly
- Improve financial stability by expanding access to government grants and reducing barriers to finance for producers
- 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
- Better access to shared infrastructure and market distribution channels
- Increase awareness of competing land use pressures on the sector to LGA’s and state Government.
Following a call out to artisan producers and through an application process we are excited to announce a Project Advisory Group (PAG) has now been formed. The PAG will provide advice on industry trends, barriers faced, and specialist knowledge to increase awareness of the Artisan Agriculture sector. Download the member list to find out more about the PAG members.
Over the coming months Sharon Hebbard (Artisan Agriculture Facilitation Specialist) will be undertaking short interviews with the PAG members to introduce them to you. To kick start the interview series Sharon caught up with Darren Rose from Two Good Acres at a recent local farmers market (with social distancing and plenty of hand sanitiser adhered to of course). Read the interview to find out more about Darren, his business and advisory role in the PAG.
For further information please contact Sharon Hebbard on E: firstname.lastname@example.org M: 0456 610 261.