Tom's launch of the Noosa Biosphere Agriculture Hub

06 Aug
Tom Wegener

 

 

 

Noosa Biosphere Agriculture Hub Opening Pages by Cr Tom Wegener

I hope to facilitate farmers in Noosa. The focus will be on small market farms and maybe poultry, cattle or pigs. There is an abundance of land zoned for farming in Noosa and much of it is underutilized. The Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation, working with Noosa Council and the many agriculture community groups, can begin the process of breaking down the barriers which limit aspiring farmers.

Noosa was once agriculture dominated shire. As time went on, tourism and other businesses became the primary industries, however, Noosa never lost its identity or respect for farming. There is a significant part of the community who would like to earn a living from farming.

The problem is many cannot envision a way to make a living from farming. The old networks are gone, and the paradigm of farming has moved to big production and mono-cropping. There is a perception that the local market gardens cannot compete. However, times have changed and local growers are finding support in the local markets. Noosa residents consciously purchase locally grown, healthy, responsibly farmed foods. Also, climate change demands less carbon miles from our food, and the community wants a local resilient food supply. Noosa residents will continue to support local farmers by buying locally.

The average person spends a minimum of $50 a week on food. There are 52,000 residents in the Noosa Shire. There is a minimum of $2.6 million a week spent on food in Noosa and $135 million a year. This is far more than the average Noosa Council budget. It seems ludicrous to think that there is not enough money in local farming to induce people to take up the shovel and hoe.

Noosa has some tremendous advantages for our local farmers:

Rain: Noosa has a steady water and rain supply with an average of 989mm.

Soil: Noosa has areas of exceptional soil and Noosa council plans to specialize in composting green and food waste for local farming.

Community: Most important, the Noosa community strongly supports local products.

Circular economy: Noosa Council supports the circular economy including local food to hungry tourists, and then food waste back to compost.

Zero Emissions Goal 2026: Short food supply lower Noosa's carbon footprint.

Advance market farming practices and sell knowledge through educational programs

Obstacles to becoming a farmer:

Land is expensive

Seed and tools are expensive

Water supply is needed

Little security in investment of time and money

Lack of knowledge in what to grow and what will sell in the market

Lack of employees or help when lots of work is needed and for selling the products in the markets.

No stable income nor security if one becomes injured.

The Noosa Biosphere Agriculture Hub will create a path forward for new farmers. Noosa Council and the NBRF, as peak bodies, can facilitate land, water and tools for farming. An advisory board will oversee a wide educational program from understanding soil, to growing and harvesting, to selling, cooking and value adding to the produce. Furthermore, new products can be made and marketed under the Noosa banner eg. cassava flour, green banana flour and other niche products. The food sector aligns with tourism as well because Noosa is a food destination. The NBRF can work toward securing funding as needed for these projects.

The goal is a 5-to-7-year program for new farmers to become thoroughly knowledgeable and enmeshed in Noosa farming and food industries. The essence of the program is to create well-educated, well-rounded food producers who have a wide knowledge base from growing to distributing and even cooking local produce. The graduates will continue to farm in Noosa and find their preferred niche in the industry.

This is a biosphere project because MAB program aspires for people work and create value in harmony with nature. Presently, Noosa is not taking advantage of the top farming land which is presently idle. This is an inefficient use of land zoned for farming and is in contradiction with the MAB principles. Noosa is squandering this advantage. The Noosa Biosphere Agriculture Hub will facilitate the current small farming industry by bringing new blood, funding, land, education and tools. It will bring good food, financial gain, a resilient food supply, contribute to the circular economy, and reinforce the Noosa brand as an environmentally advanced community.

At this point the Steering Committee members are:

Elaine Bradly, Mary Valley Growers

Tom Kendall, Chair of Country Noosa and PermEco Inc.  

Zaia Kendall, Secretary of Country Noosa and PermEco Inc. (Please google PermEco! Tom and Zaia are legends)

Phil Moran, Noosa Landcare General Manager

 

 

Further Projects: I made a this little video about arrowroot that grows very well in my clay based garden which has no regular watering system. I am an aspiring, learning farmer.