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SmartFarmer • February 2014
with ZANNIE FLANAGAN
Some strike it hot but others?
HAPPY 'very hot' new year!
I hope you are sharing my
optimism for the year ahead despite
It certainly started with a bang for
four young people on the Fleurieu
chosen as the lucky recipients of
the first Willunga Farmers' Market
Young Farmer Scholarship that was
launched last year.
On a very hot January morning
I attended the ceremony at which
the lucky four -- Jay Kimber, Alex
Steimanis, Emmanuel Marquis and
Aidan Jones -- were presented with
their $10,000 scholarship.
The group plans to grow vegeta-
bles on a plot of under-utilised land
owned by family members.
The recent heat has brought home
to people just how hard it is to be a
It serves to remind us, not unlike
the drought of a few years ago,
that to have a food industry of any
size someone has to continue to
plant the seeds and nurture their
growth before anything can be sold
at a farmers' market, delivered to
a restaurant door or put on the
So while the Willunga Farmers'
Market scholarship is an admirable
start, there must be much more done
to broaden the appeal of the farming
sector to the next generation.
Farming is too often considered a
low-status, non-rewarding occupa-
tion that pays badly and requires
long hours of hard work.
It has a bad wrap and I often won-
der why this is so in a country with
such a long history of agricultural
To change this perception, state
and federal governments must offer
incentives and support to newcomers
to the sector to ensure the future of
food production in Australia becomes
sustainable and profitable for those
who plant those seeds and to ensure
that the sector is open and fair for all
players who want to participate.
As the current debate concerning
Ardmona in Victorian rages, and as
some in the wine industry have come
to realise, it is clear international
consortiums rarely have the interests
of regional communities at heart.
We need to continue to celebrate
and educate our communities, both
rural and urban, about the successes
of those who produce local food for
our tables and promote the health
benefits of eating fresh, local and
clean food while ensuring we grow
the sector sustainably.
With SA well into election mode
we will no doubt see more politicians
out and about in coming weeks, but
concrete policies and initiatives to
show there is a real plan in place are
needed to ensure the farming sector
is sustainable long into the future.
Youngsters ready to farm
By CARLA WIESE-SMITH
AHEIRLOOM vegetable enter-
prise is the first project to
be established through the
Willunga Farmers' Market Young
The recipients of the first award
-- Jay Kimber, Emmanuel Marquis,
Aidan Jones and Alex Steimanis
-- entered the competition as a
collective and were presented with
the first payment of their $10,000
scholarship in January.
The group, all in their 20s and
from Whites Valley, have already
made a start on preparing ground on
land which has been leased to them
free of rent by family members. They
will farm heirloom vegetables using
permaculture guidelines and organic
A small group of invited guests on
the day included Agriculture Minister
Gail Gago, Tourism Minister Leon
Bignell and City of Onkaparinga
mayor Lorraine Rosenberg.
Minister Gago reiterated recent
statistics which showed a quarter of
South Australian farmers were more
than 65 years old.
"Food production is critical to
our state and this region, and young
people are really critical to our long-
term food security," she said.
In 2012-13, gross food revenue
increased by $112 million to a record
$14.4 billion, and finished food val-
ues grew by nearly $45m to almost
The Minister said food retail sales
continued to strengthen and food
retail and hospitality increased to
its highest level since the SA food
scorecard began measuring these
"These grew by seven per cent, or
$579m, to reach a total of $9.3b,"
Ms Gago said the Young Farmers
Scholarship fit well with government
agricultural strategic planning.
Spokesperson for the group Jay
Kimber said the scholarship was an
excellent opportunity for the group
to start doing what they had already
wanted to do for a long time.
"It's a dream come true for all of
us," she said.
"We would never have been able
to set up a farm for ourselves with-
out the scholarship.
"The initial financial outlay and
commitment was way too daunting;
the added insecurity of not knowing
if we'd have customers to sell it to
meant that farming for ourselves just
wasn't a possibility."
Willunga Farmers Market chair-
person Steve Scown said the market
was providing recipients with
$3000 worth of small business and
agricultural training together with a
cash component of $7000 for items
such as seeds, tools, land rental and
The scholarship recipients will
also receive a guaranteed licence to
trade and a weekly stall site at the
market to supply produce for two
years, with the first six months' site
Jay Kimber, Alex Steimanis, Emmanuel Marquis and Aidan Jones are the
winners of the first Willunga Farmers' Market Young Farmers Scholarship.
Ready acccess to market support
Head start on preparing ground
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