HEPBURN SHIRE is leading the way with an innovative program to support small-scale farmers with opportunities to thrive.
The Hepburn Hub for Premium Produce will champion the region’s small-scale producers to increase their economic potential through support with training, finances and regulatory processes.
It is a result of the Central Highlands Regional Partnership, which encompasses six municipalities, and extensive consultation with the community.
Chief Executive Officer of Hepburn Shire Council, Evan King, said the fact the pilot would be based in Hepburn was “exciting”.
“Given we have got some of the most fertile land in the state, it’s not unreasonable to expect [the industry] will only continue to grow,” he said. “Quite a few of our neighbours have similar demands on small-scale farming so they are keen to see how it goes and whether it is a model that can be rolled out across the region.”
Tammi Jonas of Jonas Farms in Eganstown said it was great to see the growing industry being supported.
“To have somebody whose focus is to make small-scale farming thrive is super exciting. Everybody is really excited about an explicit role to support small-scale farmers like ourselves.
“It will help us to navigate the requirements of the state and local government for small producers, and also to help us find relevant plans for some of our collaborative exercises.”
Hepburn Shire committed $90,000 to the three year pilot in December and is now looking to the state government for $620,000 of funding to get the hub off the ground.
It is estimated the program will generate $4.5 million per year with a broader benefit to the Central Highlands of between $16 and $25 million.
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