Woolworths has awarded $1 million in grants and interest-free loans to four organic farms across Australia in the second round of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund.
The $30m Woolworths Organic Growth Fund was established in 2018 in partnership with Heritage Bank to help Australians farmers meet the growing consumer demand for organic fruit and vegetables.
The four successful recipients in the second funding round - Gingin Organics, N&A Group, Biofarms Australia and Pairingi Farms - grow a wide range of fruit and vegetable varieties on farms based in Western Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania.
The third round of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund will close on 1 March 2020 and Woolworths is calling for applications from farmers right across Australia.
Woolworths Head of Produce Paul Turner said: “We’re proud to be backing the expansion plans of entrepreneurial farmers across Australia through our Organic Growth Fund.
“We’re seeing double digit growth in customer demand for organic fruit and vegetables, and believe the trend will only continue over coming years.
“As we look to the next round, we’d particularly like to encourage applications from conventional growers who are looking to diversify crops and convert to organic production.”
Gingin Organics - Neergaby, WA
Gingin Organics, owned and operated by Lynda and Noel Harding, is the first recipient of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund from Western Australia. They grow a range of organic and seasonal vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and cauliflower.
The Hardings will use the $200,000 grant to develop six hectares of new organic farmland and upgrade their packhouse over the next year.
Biofarms Australia - Forth, TAS
Tasmanian-based Biofarms Australia, run by brothers Chris, Mark and David Benson, produces a diverse range of certified organic vegetables such as broccoli, beetroot and pumpkin.
The organic vegetable grower will use a $500,000 interest-free loan from the Organic Growth Fund to buy new machinery and equipment, and upgrade irrigation systems to improve productivity and efficiency on the 300 acre farm.
N&A Group- Batlow, NSW
Nestled in the south-west slopes of NSW, the N&A Group has been supplying Woolworths as a conventional supplier since 1956 and decided to diversify into organics in 2015 in response to increasing demand for organic produce. They will use a $150,000 interest-free loan to fund protected cropping at their Ardrossan Orchards in Batlow.
Paringi Farms - Paringi, NSW
Paringi Farms in NSW will use a $170,000 interest-free loan to convert its electricity supply to renewable sources and invest in new packing equipment.
The farm - owned and operated by third-generation farming brother the Kazzis - uses different growing practices including glasshouse, shade net and field production to produce organic vegetables such as capsicums, zucchinis and tomatoes. They are currently going through in conversion to be fully certified organic.
Round Three - Woolworths Organic Growth Fund
Round three of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund is now open and Woolworths is inviting farmers to apply by 1 March 2020.
Woolworths has committed to invest up to $30 million over a five-year period in the form of financial grants and interest-free loans. Applicants who successfully apply to the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund for an interest-free loan are invited to apply for an interest-free loan issued by Heritage Bank.