MEMBERS of The Gloucester Project have given the green light to phase two of the award-winning Tucker Patch demonstration farm.
The Tucker Patch is the flagship project and public face of The Gloucester Project - a not-for-profit community based organisation aimed at developing and implementing a regional food future model.
Gloucester Project chairman Ken Johnson said more than 40 project members attended a recent planning meeting where they gave overwhelming support to plans to capitalise on the Tucker Patch as a resource for sustainable food production training and education as well as a source of fresh produce for the region and coastal and metropolitan consumers.
“There is incredible support for some very exciting plans for increased fresh produce production, more intensive direct marketing of local produce and a major push to make the most of the educational and tourism potential of the farm,” he said.
“We’ll be expanding production at the Tucker Patch and encouraging more growers to join our network to supply fresh seasonal produce.
“We also have plans for increasing direct marketing of local produce to food distributing groups, local consumers and regional food initiatives like the Stroud market.
“This approach is vital as it increases returns to growers which makes fresh produce growing financially viable and sustainable.”
Mr Johnson said farm gate sales of fresh produce at the Tucker Patch each Friday had eclipsed all expectations.
“We’re working with council to expand this part of our operation to meet increasing demand for locally produced fresh produce,” he said.
He said the Tucker Patch was working with key partners to expand its program of tours and workshops in response to increased demand for education and skills training around sustainable food production.
“We’re getting inquiries for education and training from such a wide range of people, from backyard gardeners to commercial scale growers,” he said.
“They are hungry for information on what we are doing and how we are doing it. Some simply want to grow their own food while others are looking for opportunities to add food growing to their income stream.
“In every case the Tucker Patch can provide the knowledge and teach the skills they need.”
The Gloucester Project will also continue to partner with Gloucester Shire Council in its food and green waste recycling-to-compost program.
“The trial, supported by Commonwealth government funding, has been a huge success and has major financial, soil and nutrition building advantages for council and The Gloucester Project,” Mr Johnson said.
“We appreciate council’s ongoing support for the project and their commitment to encouraging wider recognition of the importance of sustainable agriculture to our community.”
The Gloucester Project has more than 240 members who contribute more than 8000 volunteer hours a year to the project, mainly through the Tucker Patch.
A NSW government Community Builders grant has been a major contributor to the stage one program.
Mr Johnson said new members and friends were always welcome at the Tucker Patch.
“We offer our community so much more than just the physical aspects of growing food. Some people simply come to take photos, share stories, or just enjoy a cup of tea with like-minded people,” he said.
“The Tucker Patch is a space to be shared by anyone interested in living in a resilient and healthy community.”