Coles supermarkets

Australia: Supermarket giant helps farmers drought-proof operations

In Australia, Coles supermarkets is stepping forward to assist with a water-saving initiative. This has made the fight against drought conditions one step easier growers like Brian Crust. The Mount Sylvia vegetable grower is just one of five farmers across Queensland who have shared almost $1.4 million from the supermarket giant's Nurture Fund.

After spending months on the submission, Mr Crust thought they had missed the opportunity: “It was a pleasant surprise. We have also contributed to the project - you had to show you can contribute to the project as well to secure the funding.”

Construction upgrades are under-way on Mr Crust's dam, expanding its holding capacity by 20 per cent and lining it with plastic to stop soil seepage. He will also install a state-of-the-art irrigation system for water and power efficiency at Crust Farms and expects it to hold about 30 megalitres.

Crust farms with his wife Julia and son Matthew supply a variety of vegetables to Coles, including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. "It's life-changing when they back you on an important project for our operation,” Crust said. "We certainly support Coles and it is really nice they have supported us.”

The drought that has plagued much of Queensland has forced the Crusts to cut back their 100-hectare operation to one third, this year. Crust said unfortunately the dam was too late for this season, but it was a positive for the future: "This dam won't be enough water to drought-proof the farm for a whole year, but it gives us the flexibility to store water without losses.”

According to an article on, helping the Crust family is just a portion of Coles' project, which has also assisted 16 farmers and food producers across Australia with a share of $5 m to protect their businesses against drought in the long-term.

Coles chief operating officer Greg Davis said the commitment to drought-related projects brought the total amount provided by the Nurture Fund to nearly $20 million since 2015.

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