Growcom’s Fair Farms is an industry-led, national training and certification initiative that is cultivating fair and responsible employment practices in Australian horticulture. The team spoke to Brialey Brightwell from Nerrigundah Berries about the business’ decision to become Fair Farms-certified and the process behind it.

A family-owned and operated berry farm in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Nerrigundah Berries grows a delicious variety of berries including boysenberry, blueberries, and raspberries.

Nerrigundah Berries has been managed by Brialey Brightwell’s family for four generations. The operation made the move to become Fair Farms-certified this year, which was straightforward and simple.

Brialey decided to become certified after finding out about the social compliance program a couple of years ago at an industry event on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

“We were at this industry event, and we found out about Fair Farms there and were genuinely interested in it,” Brialey said.

“We listened and asked questions, and found it was very relevant to us. We were already with another social compliance program at the time but decided that we would look to Fair Farms after hearing about it at this event.

“Fair Farms just makes sense for Australian growers.”

Brialey Brightwell.

When it came time to audit, Brialey said that the Fair Farms process was easy to understand and the resources available assured them that they were ready for audit when the time came.

“We decided to go with Fair Farms because it just makes more sense – it was more relevant to who we are and how we do things,” she said.

“We had been with a previous social compliance program and some of their questions on audit were just not relevant to us, or to any Australian farmer I know.”

Tailored for business

Brialey said that Fair Farm’s emphasis on worker wellbeing aligned with how she treats her employees on a day-to-day basis.

“We’re on a first name basis with our employees and I recognise them – in recent times we’ve got to know our employees better because we have to do daily health checks due to COVID,” Brialey said.

The realities of managing a family-owned farm means that Brialey is constantly donning different business hats.

At times, she’ll function as human resources and when the farm is short on pickers, you can find her out with her team harvesting. This means being a part of a straightforward program like Fair Farms makes farming life a little easier.

“I love farming, it is a constant challenge of production and the elements,” Brialey said.

“We were one of the first farms to start early with hydroponics, which was a game changer.

“Every year we look at what we do and what we want to improve, and Fair Farms has been part of that.

“I would tell people who are thinking about joining Fair Farms that it is a good system and covers everything you should be doing in farming.”

Fair Farms National Program Manager, Sachin Ayachit, said that it wasn’t a surprise that the program resonated with farms like Nerrigundah Berries.

“Fair Farms was developed for Australian growers by Australian growers – that is why farms find it so relevant to what they do,” he said.

“Fair Farms is also about acknowledging the outstanding work Australian horticulture farmers are already doing.

“Moving forward, we will always keep growers like Brialey at the forefront of what we do.”

Fair Farms: What it offers industry

Recently, Fair Farms was officially endorsed by the National Farmers’ Federation Horticulture Council.

Join Fair Farms today to access an Australian-centric training and certification program including online training modules, one-on-one training and over-the-phone support that helps your business showcase ethical employment practices to the supply chain.

Click here for more information.

Find out more

To find out more about Growcom’s Fair Farms program and any special offers it may be offering, please click here.

Visit the Fair Work website and the Growcom website for more information regarding your obligations as an employer.

Fair Farms is developed and delivered by Growcom with support from the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and AUSVEG.

Cover image: Ryan Brightwelll from Nerrigundah Berries.