Catching up with… Marsha Aralar
Works at: Growcom
Position: Fair Farms National Program Manager
Today we’re speaking to Marsha Aralar, who leads Growcom’s Fair Farms program. Marsha, thanks for taking the time to chat!
Firstly, can you please give us a brief overview of the Fair Farms Initiative?
Fair Farms is a training and certification program that growers can use to show they are responsible employers of choice as they have awareness of – and provide a workplace for – ethical practices (Fair Work, work, health and safety and immigration) for their workers.
You’re the Fair Farms National Program Manager. What does this role involve?
Developing strategic relationships and building trust across all elements of the horticulture supply chain. The entire certification program is my responsibility: the IT system; the content of the Standard; Rules and scheme documentation; the auditors; registrations; renewals and certifications; and managing the budget.
My radar is tuned for the big trends – levers for social impact, responsible sourcing, labour issues, institutional change, as well as the details – grower personal stories, client feedback, branding and promotion, health and well-being of my own staff. It all matters.
You’ve been in this role since August this year. What were you doing prior to joining Growcom?
I was the principal policy officer at Safe Food Production Queensland – the state regulator for primary production. I moved from Perth in 2017 after spending eight years in the Sultanate of Oman, in the Middle East. This experience really opened my eyes to culture in its broadest sense and how workers are treated has such a profound effect on the outcomes of efficiency, safety, quality and therefore profitability.
What attracted you to Fair Farms?
When the pandemic struck, I took the opportunity to hit the reset button and recalibrate my personal goals. I saw the advertisement for this role on an ethical job site and as my goals included working with ‘smart, kind successful people and contribute to society’, this position fit the bill perfectly.
Fair Farms is about shifting institutionalised and industry-wide behaviour change for the better whilst implementing an innovative, industry-designed and delivered program. A great way to spend one’s working hours.
What is the program focusing on at the moment, and what are the plans for 2021?
National implementation and scaling-up program infrastructure to handle it. Generating positive messages to get the word out there and counter the negative. Market research to understand our value proposition. Followed by strategic actions to ensure fiscal viability after the present government funding runs dry.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role and working in the horticulture industry?
Making a difference to the lives of workers earning a fair and decent wage; helping growers with the simplest, cheapest and Aussie solution to making sure their workers are healthy, happy, motivated to work hard.
Doing my part in the vast and complex food supply system for a thriving market and healthy, prosperous world.
And lastly, how can growers get in touch or keep up-to-date with Fair Farms’ activities?