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Byron Shire
September 21, 2023

Funding for organic growers 

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Pepe’s Farm

For the last 40 years, Santos Organics has prioritised products on its shelves that are locally grown or produced. It also strongly supports organic growing methods and is passionate about encouraging local farmers to do the same. As a result, for the first time ever this year, Santos funded Northern Rivers farmers to transition to becoming 100 per cent ‘certified organic’. 

‘We’re serious about localisation, fostering partnerships to create local food security, while also supporting farming practices that regenerate our environment,’ said Santos CEO, Jolene Ryan.

Applicants to the ‘Grow the Growers’ funding project were either wanting to enter the organic certification system for the first time, expand their current growing potential through the purchase of equipment, or cover the cost of soil testing and additional organic inputs.

‘After a careful assessment process, we awarded funding to eight of the thirteen applicants, who all have the potential to supply our stores with ‘organic In-conversion’ produce. This certification follows the same standard as ‘certified organic’ growers, for a period of 12 months to three years, before gaining full certification. 

‘More often than not, it can be difficult for farmers to find a market for their produce during this time, which can lead to disenchantment with the system. Therefore, we wanted to encourage these growers to feel inspired and continue to provide fresh, nutrient-rich food, for themselves, their family and our local community. Over time, we hope to further enhance the network of local growers within our region and offer a range of in-store events, to bring both the community and growers together’, said Jolene.

Of $25,000 total funding, over half has been allocated to the recipients, and the remaining funds will be given in the subsequent stages of their conversion:

• Margi Carter: Margi has a fantastic range of fruit trees in her large orchard, on the outskirts of Mullumbimby.

• John Quayle of Maryfields Organic Farmstay: John has mango and pomegranate plantations, as well as Manuka honey.

• Pepe Fassos of Five Sixty Farms in Lismore: Pepe produces microgreens and a range of annual vegetables.

• Andrew Cameron of Burringbar: Andrew is currently regenerating a large avocado orchard.

• Dave Warne of Green Cauldron Farm in Tyalgum: Dave offers a fantastic range of annual vegetables.

• Tom and Nicole of Misty Creek Agroforestry in Booyong: Tom and Nicole farm with syntropic agroforestry to mimic the natural structure of the rainforest for food production.

• Karen Gross of The Paddock in Mullumbimby: Karen uses syntropic farming, has market gardens, and offers NDIS programs on her inclusive farm.

• Simon Schaffer of Wollongbar: Simon uses successional agroforestry to grow taro, cassava, bananas and pumpkin.

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