Following years of heavy rainfall across New South Wales, organic cherry farmer Luke Cantrill from Cantrill Organics has received a grant of $500,000 from the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund, to build an all-weather crop protection to keep his cherries safe from rain, hail and birds.

The grant will allow Cantrill Organics to future proof its farm and significantly reduce the risk associated with changing climate patterns on this easily damaged crop, ensuring a full and more consistent crop every year.

With multiple risk factors associated with cherries throughout their growth-cycle, they are a highly volatile crop. Frost can damage the blossoms, while heavy rain and hail can damage ripening fruit and intense sunlight can cause sunburn on the trunks of the trees.

All-weather crop coverage will provide comprehensive protection year round.

Cantrill Organics Director, Luke Cantrill said, “After two tough years with weather conditions against us, we are thrilled to be able to put in place a system that will help protect our fruit and greatly reduce the risks associated with changing climate patterns. We are passionate about being able to meet what is a growing demand from Australian consumers for high quality, organic cherries.”

“Cherries are such a high-risk crop to grow, and we are excited and quite frankly relieved that we now have better surety for the future and for consumers across the country.”

Woolworths Organic Fruit and Vegetable Manager, Karli Horwood said the supermarket retailer has seen a steady increase in demand for organics over the last five years, as customers become more interested in where their food comes from and how it’s grown.

“We’re proud to be backing tomorrow’s organics industry today with future-focussed Australian farmers like the Cantrills,” said Karli.

“Building on our long term relationship with Cantrill Organics, we’re excited to see what this latest grant will unlock for the future of their farm, and how together we can bring more great organic Central West cherries to Australian customers.”

Following Cantrill Organic’s latest investment in its cherry crop with the support of Woolworths’ grant, it will be able to supply more than 100 tonnes of cherries every year to Woolworths’ Macro Organic range of fresh produce.

Woolworths is now inviting farmers to apply for the latest round of the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund, which is now open, by 30 November 2022.

The Fund is open to organic farmers looking to expand production as well as traditional farmers interested in diversifying or converting to organic farming.

The Woolworths Organic Growth Fund was established in 2018 in partnership with Heritage Bank – one of Australia’s largest customer-owned banks – to provide financial grants and interest-free loans to support organic fruit and vegetable production.

Any interest-free loans awarded through the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund are issued by Heritage Bank.

Click here to find out more and to apply!