Local Co-operative receives $34,000 for Pilot Program

Mary Valley Country Harvest Co-operativeThe Mary Valley Country Harvest Co-operative (MVCHC) has received funding from the Farming Together Program – the Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Pilot Program of Southern Cross University, being delivered on behalf of the Australian Government. The $34,000 funding will allow the co-operative, which currently comprises 35 farms in the Mary Valley, to design and implement a plan to improve operations, management and logistics.

The co-operative supports a network of small growers and food producers working together to make their businesses easier to run and more efficient. The project aims to raise awareness of the benefits membership of MVCHC has for local farmers. Customers will also learn about the value that is offered to them and the impact they have by purchasing from the co-op’s e-market and market stalls. Not only families and agri-tourists see value in the co-operative, but also schools, direct market outlets, and businesses.

Seci Tuiwai, board member of the co-operative and coordinator of the pilot program, believes that “Collaborative co-operative business farming models are the way of the future for 3rd and 4th generation farming operations”. The benefits of co-operatives include the ability for consumers to purchase sustainably-grown, tasty, local food for a fair price and to have that food-chain transparency. Farmers gain the benefit of supplying larger volumes and saving time and money on marketing and product distribution.

The pilot project team has expertise in the fields of marketing, community liaison, production management and business logistics, and have organised workshops specifically targeted at different stakeholders. These will include valuable information on business project planning for farmers, information sessions for consumers, and networking events where both groups can meet and connect. Elaine Bradley, a founder of the MVCHC is enthusiastic: “The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Pilot Program is exactly what the MVCHC needed right now. With a new project team, we now have the assets to implement strategies and positive change.” For more information on the project you can contact 0459 225 399 or mvchpilotproject@gmail.com or www.maryvalleycountryharvest.com

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