Round 8 of the Coles Nuture fund has allocated $3 million across 12 projects. The fund, set up to support new, innovative practices, processes and technologies, has distributed more than $24 million since it was set up in 2015.
Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said: “By helping to fund initiatives which increase recycling, reduce water use, increase local production and enhance the environment, we aim to drive generational sustainability in Australia.
“At a time when food and grocery manufacturing across Australia is so important due to the flow-on effect of COVID-19, it’s terrific to see the innovative, forward thinking of small to medium sized businesses.”
The 12 companies include The Mount Warning Beverage Company, better known as Yaru Water from the Tweed Valley in NSW. It will install new equipment to produce a range of native botanical tonic waters that are Australian owned, sourced and made using Indigenous flavours.
Beechworth Honey will increase productivity and cost efficiencies in its honey packing facility in Corowa NSW by installing robotic technology to streamline its operations.
Other recipients were:
- Harvey Citrus from Harvey in Western Australia will extend the supply of WA-grown citrus over the summer by at least three weeks and increase local employment by extending its cool room facility and acquiring solar panels for its packing shed.
- Braebrook Pastoral will produce renewable energy from organic waste matter by constructing an on-farm biogas system on its pig farm at Willaura in Victoria.
- Black River Produce will plant more asparagus and install equipment to process the produce on its farm west of Townsville in Queensland. This will enable the company to produce asparagus out of season and replace imported asparagus with Aussie-grown produce.
- The Olsen family from Hallora in Victoria’s Gippsland – who won The Weekly Times Coles Innovative Farmer of the Year in February - will expand its facilities to treble the manufacture of its Soilkee Renovator Units. The Soilkee Renovator, invented by Niels Olsen, is a revolutionary pasture cropping system that plants seeds in a unique way which improves soil structure and builds soil carbon through carbon sequestration.
- Sutton Farms from Gatton in Queensland will increase water and fertiliser efficiency by introducing grow bag technology and a new irrigation system for its cherry tomatoes grown in the field.
- Hall Stanley Premium Chestnuts from Stanley in Victoria will save water and increase production by introducing new high-efficiency irrigation and fertigation, which reduces evaporation and increases nutrients.
- Darren and Mark Todaro from Todaro Farms at Cora Lynn, Victoria will increase yields and quality by installing frost protection fleece and relocatable hail netting over their vegetables.
Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) CEO Brooke Donnelly said: “We are delighted the Coles Nurture Fund is helping to fund important sustainability initiatives such as a new manufacturing solution for plastic packaging, which will support a circular economy and align with our national packaging targets to recycle packaging.”
National Farmers Federation CEO Tony Mahar said:“It’s inspiring to see that from the challenges of drought and bushfires has come such ingenuity – like the development of fence posts from silage waste; the installation of cutting-edge robotic technology and new high-efficiency irrigation systems.
“The focus on sustainability and increased efficiencies amongst this Round’s Nurture Fund recipients is in direct alignment with the NFF’s vision to grow Australia’s overall farm gate output to $100 billion by 2030, up from $60 billion today.”