Charlie Arnott’s award-winning cause.
Winner of the inaugural Thankful4Farmers award at the 2019 Produce Awards, Charlie Arnott talks to delicious. about giving farmers the support and platform they need to get the recognition they deserve.
FROM FLOODS, FIRES and droughts, to falling commodity prices and rising tariffs, Aussie farmers have had a rough ride the past 12 months. In times like these, we could all use a helping hand.
To support farmers in the current climate of change, social enterprise Thankful has created Thankful4Farmers, a major initiative designed to amplify awareness and generate ongoing, sustainable funding for Australian agriculture and regional communities.
The home-grown campaign was first launched at the
2019 delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards in August last year. In honour of the launch, a new award was created to recognise outstanding contribution to innovation, sustainability and the community, with the inaugural accolade going to Charlie Arnott, a biodynamic farmer and grazier from Boorowa in New South Wales.
“I was completely flabbergasted,” says Arnott, who supplies organic and biodynamic grass-fed beef to butchers across the country.
“The award is a wonderful acknowledgment of the work that farmers do, and I’m just happy that an award like this actually exists!”
An early pioneer and longtime advocate of regenerative farming, Arnott is passionate about the Thankful4Farmers cause.
“What’s different about Thankful4Farmers is that it focuses on the long-term outcomes,” he says.
“It’s not funding farmers to go out and buy hay, it’s about supporting farmers to develop and adopt strategies and practices that have long-term beneficial environmental and farming outcomes, especially in the technology space, the community space and the wellbeing space – these are the three areas that farmers need support in.
“We want to build farmers’ capacity to adapt to the changing world, whether that be the changing climate, changing markets or the changing trends in agriculture.”
As part of his prize, Arnott was invited to accompany Thankful4Farmers ambassador and restaurateur Matt Moran on a seven-day trip to the Big Apple to attend the first
Thankful4Farmer’s Global Advisory Council meeting from its new global headquarters in New York.
Setting off in October, Charlie spent the first few days of his trip at the Atkinson Centre for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University, where he was given an exclusive tour of the campus.
“Basically, Cornell is one of the premier agricultural universities in the world, and they have supported and helped develop some 20,000 different food products. They are a very forward-thinking bunch and it was amazing to see some of the things they are doing in the world of agriculture and food.”
The following day, Arnott joined industry experts and thought leaders at the inaugural Global Advisory Council meeting to lay down the foundations of the council and discuss some of the growing challenges facing agricultural communities across the world. This was followed by a weekend in Pennsylvania, staying at the property of the American Thankful4Farmers’s chairman, John Wilkinson. Here, Arnott was welcomed with a festive barn dinner. To end the trip, Arnott travelled back to New York for a threecourse feast prepared by Moran on a Fifth Avenue rooftop.
Back on home soil, Arnott has continued to run his workshops and talks, which aim to educate the industry on regenerative farming techniques, and how it’s possible to improve production while minimising our impact on the land.
“But it’s not just up to the ‘feeders’,” Arnott says. “It’s also about the ‘eaters’ too. We need to encourage eaters to be more interested in their food and ask better questions about where it comes from and what the impacts have been,” he says. Consumers can help Thankful4Farmers by purchasing products that bear the Thankful4Farmers logo.
CLOCKWISE: Charlie Arnott with his trophy at the Produce Awards; Arnott examines animal bones as part of his farm’s composting process; the Thankful4Farmers crew; discussing the compost process with chef Matt Moran; before showing him the cattle on his farm.