Time to Sprout out again

THE latest round of applications for the Sprout Producer Program scholarships for 2023 is open.

Each year Sprout supports a cohort of carefully selected farmers through a 12-month program where participants are brought together both online and in person. Here they are able to further their learning in both farming and business skills, as well as connect as a cohort, build vital support networks and find a community of like-minded people. With an increased focus from the community on where our fresh food is grown and farmed, what methods are used on farm, and how many miles it has travelled, there has in turn been an increase in demand for local Tasmanian produce.

Sprout strives to support and empower Tassie farmers who are keen to sell to their local community and farm sustainably, with animal welfare, soil health and the environment being top priorities. Sprout CEO Jennifer Robinson said she would love to see applications flooding in from all parts of the state. “If you are a farmer who is keen to gain support, meet like-minded people and be a part of group that has your back during what can sometimes be a daunting and challenging journey, then Sprout is for you,” Ms Robinson said. “We are also keen to hear from farmers who perhaps are looking to make that transition from synthetic inputs to a more sustainable and regenerative way of farming. “We know this can be a really tricky prospect but the outcomes are there for those that make the transition and we are really happy to work with people who have a drive for change.”

The members of the Sprout Producer Program class of 2022 who are coming to the end of their time in the program have praised the program for helping teach and apply knowledge to grow their businesses. “Coming into Sprout has opened some doors and given us some ideas for what to do from the farm,” said Josh West of Westbae Pastoral, a member of the Sprout Producer Program class of 2022.

“We’ve now got this exposure to the Tas Producer Collective, it’s given us ways to figure out how we would want to sell. “Sprout has been a really good way of connecting with other growers, getting that knowledge of growing in Tasmania and getting that local perspective and advice,” said Christie Lewis, another member of the class of 2022.

Ollie Benson, Sprout’s Producer Liaison who runs the Sprout Producer Program, works closely with each participant in the program. “We are so proud of the Sprout Producer Program and everything it offers,” Mr Benson said. “Throughout the year we provide training on a variety of farming and business subjects through our online education centre, the Sprout Hub, but we also tailor the program for each of the producers by identifying specific areas that we can help with.

“That might be via connections with other farmers, or by one-to-one sessions with experts in a certain field. “A key goal is to provide each producer with confidence and skill sets to advance their farming business and ensure it’s sustainable for themselves, as well as the land on which they farm.”

Applications close on Monday September 26.

Sprout Tasmania is a non-profit, volunteer-supported organisation that supports small-scale, ethical producers to get their projects in the ground, growing and to market