ORGANISING ORGANICS: Marc Percival, Helen Bryant, Gary Frankel and Graeme Watson.
ORGANISING ORGANICS: Marc Percival, Helen Bryant, Gary Frankel and Graeme Watson. Trevor Veale

Fresh idea was organic

SANDY Beach farmer Gary Frankel wants to spend his days farming. He wants to be on the land growing his organic produce and growing his business.

Trouble is the "growing the business” side of organic farming is demanding on his time. Gary has a solution, not only for himself but for other local organic farmers and also for Coffs Coast businesses.

"We've got a lot of great produce on the Coffs Coast, and it's time for a local wholesale organic co-op,” Gary said.

"The idea came when I was selling my produce at local markets and had leftovers. I talked to other local growers and many of us had the same problem, our produce was grown here but would end up doing miles to Brisbane or Sydney then come back here to be bought by local businesses.

"Organic farmers are running around selling a box here, a box there, spending so much time on marketing and trying to sell when they could be on the farm.”

Gary wanted to negate the mileage on the produce and meet the demand of restaurateurs, clubs and pubs for quality local organic produce.

"Local restaurants want to use organic produce, they want to be able to put on their menus 'potato from Dorrigo' or 'fresh blueberries from Sandy Beach', it's great for the restaurant and for tourism.”

"The problem is sourcing the produce, it's hard for them to get everything they need from individual growers so it becomes a headache.”

As is often the case, the best solution is the simplest and First Choice Organics Limited, a local organic co-op has just been registered.

"The co-op will make it easy for growers and the local restaurants to have supply and demand met. One standard, one distribution point. If a restaurant wants to buy a pallet of mixed produce we could source it from our collective growers, it's a win-win. Restaurants can buy all their organic produce in one place and growers aren't running around trying to sell their produce.”

"The co-op would package, sell and transport while the grower could concentrate on producing and expanding their crops instead of dividing their time and energy trying to grow, market, sell and deliver. There's a lot we can do as a co-op, there are advantages such as purchasing in bulk, and as a non-profit it all goes back to growers after running costs.

"As a group we can be co-ordinated and grow produce to adjust to growing demand.

"As a co-op we will have our own agronomist, we want to help people get certified, get their farms checked and help on all levels to promote organics on the Coffs Coast.”

The co-op is seeking a suitable local distribution site with a cool-room.

"We're looking for more growers and we already have local buyers as well as buyers for export waiting. We are having a launch in April with director of organic research at SCU, Carlo Liesert, as guest speaker.”

Information/or to register to be part of the co-op contact Gary Frankel 0438 227 856.

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