Building fair food systems for local communities

By Stepping Stone Farm Inc

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The project

Stepping Stone Farm Inc is an initiative of Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla Inc (SAGE), a not-for-profit, community based organisation whose mission is to create and support a NSW South Coast sustainable fair food economy and food sovereignty for local communities.

The project is an intern program on a working farm that trains aspiring growers to become successful commercial market gardeners. The project will create jobs, secure the food supply and serve the community. This is a model that can be rolled out to other organisations and communities to build resilient and sustainable food systems.

Stepping Stone Farm is a whole of community project. The flow on effects of sustainable farming enterprises include increased resilience, new jobs, economic growth, and developing farmers that preserve ecological values for the health of the whole region. Existing farmland is used more productively, and regions are better positioned as a positioned as a place of good life and great food, which are strong drivers for tourism.

The idea of developing a purpose-built training farm has been developed over some years. Through lessons learned from our 6-year internship program, and fundraising from the SAGE Farmers Market, workshops, grants, donations, volunteer labour and on the smell of an oily rage; SAGE and more recently Stepping Stone Farm Inc have raised enough to get it started.

In 2019, SAGE secured a lease on 5 acres west of Moruya to establish the first stage of Stepping Stone Farm.The volunteer committee secured grant funding and worked on developing a robust budget, site plan and sourcing suppliers. Site works commenced, fences are up, irrigation mains have been laid and water tanks are installed. The teaching and workshop and washing sheds have been built and a seed raising tunnel is in.

Joyce Wilkie, a farmer and educator with more than 35 years’ experience will lead the hands-on and immersive intern training program. Advertising for the first 4 intern positions is expected to start in mid to late July.

Where you come in

Through fundraising, running workshops, grants, donations, volunteer labour and on the smell of an oily rage SAGE Inc has raised enough to get it started. With a financial contribution from people like you we can finish it. We could graduate our first ‘crop’ of growers in 12 months and begin harvesting acres of produce to secure a local food supply.

Here’s what we’re doing about it

The bushfires and pandemic demonstrated how easily the supply of food in a corporatised system can be disrupted. We saw the effect in power outages, communication failures, highway closures, transport and distribution issues, disrupted services, market shifts, increased prices, and the requirement for social distancing. We believe that all these can be better managed with stronger local food production and supply.

SAGE is proud that the local food system around Moruya, while small, continued to feed its loyal customers through bushfire and pandemic, and growers kept their livelihoods. Our dream is to feed more people and create more jobs!

You can join us

Your donation of any size will be meaningful with tangible results.

● $50 puts seeds in the ground and a growing business uses a lot of seed - this is where it starts

● $250 buys a marquee and table for a market stall to sell produce

● $1,000 buys an excellent set of quality market garden hand tools.

● $5,000 supports an intern for 3 months tuition in good farming, or buys the floor of the washing/packing area

● $10,000 buys supplies infrastructure and equipment and materials to raise our own seedlings. We need about 250,000 seedlings in our first year.

● $12,500 buys, installs and fits out the coolroom, critical infrastructure for summer harvesting.

● $15,000 supports one student directly, or pays for the delivery of a whole year of on-farm learning.

● $19,600 buys our state of the art standalone power system.

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Team Members

Mark Barraclough, President, SAGE Inc and Stepping Stone Farm Inc

Cath Reilly, Administrator