Driving innovation and sustainability in Australian fruit and veg production
Launched almost seven years ago, the Coles Nurture Fund has assisted fruit and vegetable growers from right around Australia to bring their innovative ideas to life. The 10th round of funding recently closed, but there will be ongoing opportunities for vegetable growers to apply for grants that will ultimately help drive industry sustainability and growth.
Fruit and vegetable growers across Australia have shared more than $8.4 million from the Coles Nurture Fund since 2015 to help their businesses to innovate and grow.
Coles launched the $50 million Nurture Fund in April 2015 to provide grants to small- and medium-sized businesses, which are working to drive innovation, produce more Australian food and beverages, and improve sustainability and growth.
Since then, Coles has awarded over $28 million in financial support to more than 80 small- and medium-sized businesses.
From Australia’s first quinoa processing facility to fence posts made from recycled plastic, and a state-of-the-art factory to grow grass indoors, the Coles Nurture Fund is helping Australian producers bring their big ideas to life.
Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the Coles Nurture Fund was set up to support new, innovative practices, processes and technologies.
“At Coles, we want to win together with Australian producers to be the most sustainable supermarket in Australia. By helping to fund initiatives that increase recycling, reduce water use, increase local production and enhance the environment, we aim to drive generational sustainability in Australia,” Mr Cain said.
Among the projects funded by the Coles Nurture Fund over the past seven years, more than 30 are Australian fruit and vegetable growers.
West of Townsville in Queensland, Black River Produce used a $300,000 grant to plant locally grown asparagus and help to reduce imports of the vegetable into Australia.
By growing 10 hectares of asparagus and installing equipment to process the produce on-farm, the family business will be able to produce asparagus when it is normally out of season in Australia.
“This grant will enable us to realise the potential of growing asparagus in the tropics out of season to the Australian current production period and in direct competition to imported product,” Black River Produce Managing Director Jon Caleo said.
Based in Gatton, Queensland, Sutton Farms is another vegetable growing operation to benefit from financial support from the Coles Nurture Fund.
The business has used a $400,000 grant to increase water and fertiliser efficiency by introducing grow bag technology and a new irrigation system for its cherry tomatoes.
In an innovative approach for cherry tomato production, the project aims to combine the technology benefits of protected cropping while maintaining the efficiency of field production.
As well as increasing water and fertiliser efficiency, Sutton Farms hopes to increase productivity, reduce risk and be able to expand into new products.
Small and medium-sized businesses can apply for a grant of up to $500,000 to help them develop new market-leading products, technologies and processes. Please keep visiting the Coles website for information about the next round of funding and cut-off dates.
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Cover image: Brock Sutton (right) with his father Rick from Sutton Farms in Gatton, Queensland.