IN­SIDE

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News - DIGBY HIL­DRETH Digby.hil­dreth@north­ern­star.com.au

THE Lis­more Or­ganic Farm­ers Mar­ket is of­fer­ing a schol­ar­ship to a young farmer or farm­ing busi­ness to help them con­vert to cer­ti­fied or­ganic sta­tus.

The body gov­ern­ing the mar­ket – Tropo, the Tweed Rich­mond Or­ganic Pro­duc­ers – will con­trib­ute about $1500 to an en­ter­prise or a lo­cal pro­ducer un­der 40 that will al­low them to have their first year of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion free.

Dur­ing the year, the schol­ar­ship win­ner will spend one day a month on ro­ta­tion with each per­ma­nent cer­ti­fied or­ganic stall­holder at the Lis­more mar­ket.

“This will help them learn more about each farmer’s meth­ods, net­work with es­tab­lished lo­cal farm­ers, ask ques­tions and have ac­cess to wealth of knowl­edge,” said new Tropo president Sasha Welker. “That way we make sure they don’t fall through the cracks.”

The young farmer will also be asked to com­mit to sell­ing at the Lis­more Or­ganic Mar­ket for their schol­ar­ship year, which will provide the build­ing blocks for them to net­work with cus­tomers and busi­nesses.

The funds for the schol­ar­ship came from a visit to the re­gion by Cana­dian aca­demic, broad­caster and en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist David Suzuki, who spoke at an event or­gan­ised by Tropo.

Sasha is co-owner of the Green Goddess Farm at Kyo­gle and is a win­ner of the Ris­ing Star Young Or­ganic Farmer of the Year Award.

Tropo cre­ated the Lis­more Or­ganic Mar­ket 18 years ago, Sasha said.

Held un­der cover at the show­grounds ev­ery Tues­day morn­ing, it is the long­est run­ning or­ganic mar­ket in Aus­tralia.

The amount of the schol­ar­ship will de­pend on which cer­ti­fier the win­ner goes through.

Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in­volves soil test­ing and pro­duce sam­pling, look­ing for pes­ti­cides and her­bi­cides and any resid­ual con­tam­i­na­tion, stall­holder Carol Boomsma said.

“Ob­vi­ously the first time there is a lot more things they look into. It can take a cou­ple of years.”

Get­ting young peo­ple in­volved was a huge con­cern across all sec­tors of farm­ing, Sasha said, “and part of our re­sponse to that is ‘OK, what are the hur­dles?’.”

“We can con­nect peo­ple with land but we can’t spon­sor peo­ple onto land. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is a big hur­dle, so we’re say­ing we want to help peo­ple, spon­sor them to get into the in­dus­try.”

Peo­ple wish­ing to ap­ply for the schol­ar­ship should email green­god­dess­farm.or­ganic@gmail.com with a let­ter about them­selves, their farm or farm­ing de­sires, and contact de­tails.

PHOTO: DIGBY HIL­DRETH

LEND­ING A HAND: Lis­more Or­ganic Mar­ket stall­hold­ers Carol Boomsma and Sasha Welker.

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