Community Supported Agriculture forges new paths between farmers and consumers

FRUIT FARMER: Ant Wilson is launching a Community Supported Agriculture program. Photo: Luka Kauzlaric

FRUIT FARMER: Ant Wilson is launching a Community Supported Agriculture program. Photo: Luka Kauzlaric

With rising uncertainty putting pressure on farmers across the nation, it is small-scale farms like Harcourt’s Tellurian Fruit Gardens that are coming up with sustainable solutions. 

Previously Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens, the orchard was recently re-branded under new owner Ant Wilson, as part of an organic farming co-op which includes a community vegetable garden and micro dairy.

In addition to the re-brand, the organic fruit orchard recently launched an innovative Community Supported Agriculture program which will see a number of hubs established across Central Victoria, including in Daylesford. 

Mr Wilson said the program was an emerging model of sales and distribution that was quickly gaining popularity as it was mutually beneficial to both the producer and the consumer.

“It is indicative of a fast-growing movement of consumers that want to be more connected with the source of their food,” he said.

The program will work like this: community members sign up for a ‘share’ of the farm before the start of the growing season, giving farmers the financial security of pre-sales.

The member then picks up weekly deliveries of fresh produce from their local hub from December through to March.

Mr Wilson said what made CSA different from other box delivery schemes was the direct interaction between the farmer and consumer, by which the community was able to participate in and have ownership over their food supply, as well as the commitment and risk sharing. 

“Agriculture is at the whim of nature and CSA is a way to spread that risk across the community so farmers don’t bear the full brunt when things go pear-shaped.”

He said ethical eaters were seeking out CSAs as an alternative to conventional food suppliers like supermarkets, which were impersonal and non-transparent.

Adding an additional twist on existing sale models, members are given a suggested price but are able to make their own decision about what price they will pay.

To sign up to the CSA, visit tfgardens.com.au before November 25.