A war won or lost by health?

A war won or lost by health?

Have you felt weary the last few weeks?  As a conscious citizen, a local business owner, a producer – it has started to wear even our strong guards down.  When will this end?  How will this end?  And what does this mean for the future of our our families and the economic pain that is felt across the country currently.   To offer hope here are some key actions we can all take.

  • Care for your mental health
  • Connect with your fellow local producers
  • Forge a healthier future for your family
  • Enable organic food to pass the budget test
  • Care more about the environment and your food!

  • This week was RU Ok week.  A week to reflect on our mates, many who are isolated at this time.  Many that may not socialise or connect that much.  For some organic producers it can be isolating being one of only a few in each region.  Even more reason to reach out and make sure they’re  OK.  And if a friend needs a break, if they need a chat, or a hand in their business, offer some of your resources to lend a hand.

     

  • Organic producers are a robust bunch.  Loyal as they come.  Pioneers ahead of their time.  But the pandemic is having a unique and lasting impact on their businesses.  Like many others.  Many Farmers Markets are being closed at short notice.  Border closures have meant that some processing businesses cannot get their regular staff to work so are running on half a workforce.  And many producers that planned their crops this time last year did not envision that this pandemic would extend to what it has.  We need the community to get behind Australian Farmers.  We need your local IGA, your supermarket, your local Cooperative to support Australian Organic Farmers like never before.  Ask your local supermarket to stock local garlic instead of cheap imported garlic?  Encourage your local store to stock locally grown grains, instead of imported flour or oats from Finland (even if they are certified organic!)?  Now is the time to buy Australian.  There are many champion organic producers around the country, and if we don’t support these farmers in this time of need – they may not be here in a year’s time.  Australia has the most certified organic farmland of any country in the world, now over 39 million Hectares.  Yet many retailers and processors are importing organic food that competes with our Australian producers.  Get behind Australian organic dairy, meat, grain and horticulture producers.  Food security has never been more critical than right now in the daily choices we all make.

     

  • A pandemic.  Can it be a war won with health? 
    While we are talking about healthy food and ‘wellness’.  How is your wellness lately?  Is this pandemic a war on medicine, or a war won with better health?  Good food choices?  Better eating habits?  In years gone by families were supported with investment in time, slow food, made with healthy locally grown, seasonal vegetables and fruit.  Many having their own backyard gardens and healthy food.  Access to fresh healthy food in our hospitals can even be a complex task.  We need to act on better community wellness and be the shining light to the next generation in how we connect, appreciate and value our food. 

* Is healthy organic food expensive?  Or is industrial food just too cheap?  

What is the ‘true cost’ of healthy food?  Or the cost of unhealthy food in terms of long term sickness?  Organic food is closer to the ‘true cost’ of food production – the sad part is that the industrial food system has deceived us that industrial food is cheap, bulk and does no harm.  Harm to humans.  Harm to our health.  And harm to the environment in which it’s grown.  Investing into organic food is not about gourmet products.  It’s about avoiding the ‘Dirty Dozen’. It’s about investing in the type of farming that you want to feed your family.  Would you go camping in a cattle feedlot?  Or in the middle of a broccoli patch that is sprayed every few days?  Or eat flour that has been desiccated (sprayed) just days before harvest?  Every time we invest in healthier food, we are investing in a healthier planet, healthier farmers, and ultimately healthier food.

* And what about the environment in which our food is produced?

Have you considered the downstream externality cost of an industrial food system on the environment?  Where food is mass produced in monocrops.  That requires higher levels of toxic sprays due to the increasing pest and disease burden.  Higher levels of artificial nitrogen that over stimulate growth causing further health issues for the plant.  And lacking nutrient density as it’s force fed an unhealthy high ‘N’ diet.  Rather than naturally grown, and naturally fertilised organic food.  And where do all these toxins and artificial inputs end up?  In our water systems?  Have you wondered why we have such extreme levels of blue green algae?  Why the Great Barrier Reef is under such environmental pressure.  We only have one planet and without adjusting our food and farming choices – we are destroying our top soil and our planet quicker than we realise.

Some may say organic farming cannot feed the planet!  Ask the question – just how much land in Australia is wasted?  How much is not fully utilised, or multi-layered to produce more food and give better resilience to farm businesses.  Should Australia be focussed on growing more and more and more.  Or should we be considering growing healthier, more nutrient dense, more regenerative, less environmentally damaging and healthier food for our communities.  What if there is a peak oil limit and access to phosphorus or nitrogen in artificial forms becomes financially unsustainable in the next decade?  Perhaps now is the time to transition our thinking to regenerative farming systems that circulate our agricultural economy, including waste and nutrients and lessen farmers’ dependence on expensive unsustainable external inputs.  Organic and regenerative farmers are strategic masterminds.  They regenerate the land with minimal external resources.  They read their soil and meet the needs of the land.  Without a chemical bucket list.  And use their livestock and natural resources to grow nutrient dense food while regenerating the land.  How about you?

From Calvin – an organic grain producer from South West Victoria.  His deep concerns regarding the increasing COVID virus lockdowns, increasing levels of cancer and other serious health problems.  Plus the planetary boundaries and climate resilience.  See his reflections here….

I, along with others see the urgent need to find the CAUSE of these events and DO SOMETHING TO PREVENT AND LOWER THE FREQUENCIES OF THESE HAPPENINGS.  SOMEONE NEEDS TO START SOMEWHERE.  The time is now.

I feel that over the more recent years, farmers have been convinced to apply more and more dangerous chemicals so as to increase production and yield.

Farmers are paid for quantity NOT quality .

In the process of increasing production, by applying these chemicals, this process has most likely killed off almost ALL the natural soil life necessary for balanced nutrition in our food.  Nature tries to build up life in soils, but a couple weeks later, another spray is applied to kill weeds etc and microbes again.  Most soils in my local area have zero soil life and very little air left to allow microbes to live .

There is a varying degree of soil hardness in my area, but some farms it is now almost impossible to dig a 4 tine garden fork any more than 2 inches into the ground, even by jumping on it [maybe it would be more profitable to make bricks in these areas ]

In my opinion, the answer is in convincing farmers to use an intense program of cover cropping and applying healthy microbes [which is much less costly than the presently used fertilizers].

Further, I feel that there are enough farmers [grain, horticulture, fruit, dairy and beef to supply Australia’s food requirements for “CLEAN” food.  The other can be sold overseas to hungry nations.  Food security has never been such a national issue as right now.  With closed borders and transport delays.

Are we to wait until further epidemics evolve and more climate change, or can we make changes now? 

I know it’s a difficult question, however we need to start somewhere, and the epidemic is making it even more urgent.

ORICoop connects Organic and Biodynamic Farmers that demonstrates the direct relationship between healthy food, healthy farms and a healthy planet.  Did you realise that organic agriculture is a leader in addressing these key questions of food security, planetary boundaries and healthy people?

  • Organic agriculture has the capacity to provide one (1) calorie of food energy for every calorie of energy utilized to produce that food, typically industrial agriculture requires twenty (20) calories of energy primarily sourced from fossil fuel to produce a calorie of food, hence a higher footprint
  • Organic agriculture in general requires less fossil fuel per hectare and kilo of produce due to the avoidance of synthetic or artificial fertilizers.
  • Organic agriculture improves soil fertility and nitrogen supply by using leguminous crops, crop residues and cover crops.
  • The enhanced soil fertility leads to a stabilization of soil organic matter and in many cases to a sequestration of carbon dioxide into the soils.
  • This in turn increases the soil’s water retention capacity, thus contributing to better adaptation of organic agriculture under unpredictable climatic conditions with higher temperatures and uncertain precipitation levels. 
  • Organic production methods emphasizing soil carbon retention are most likely to withstand climatic challenges particularly in those countries most vulnerable to increased climate change. 
  • Soil erosion, an important source of CO2 losses, is effectively reduced by organic agriculture and as a consequence prevents the loss of energy that would occur due to the embedded energy used in industrial agricultural systems.
  • Organic agriculture can contribute substantially to agroforestry and mixed production systems.
  • Organic systems are highly adaptive to climate change due to the application of traditional skills and farmers’ knowledge, soil fertility-building techniques and a high degree of diversity.

The Way Forward

So what does this mean for us?  Supporting organic and biodynamic producers has never been more critical as now.  At ORICoop we encourage more producers to transition to biological farm systems.  We know it takes time.  We can assist with connecting with your local organic producers.  We know to balance supply and demand – we need more businesses to invest in more locally grown, Australian produce.  Not cheap imported food.  Whether organic or conventional.

Agriculture has been a massive rebound for Australia’s economy in the past.  It has been a place where you could always find work, a living, and raise your family.  It can this time as well.  If you are interested to be involved in the most exciting area of agriculture – in organic food systems, or organic farming.  Contact us to find out how!  We have producers looking for the next generation of farmers.  Now more than ever!

* National Organic Awards – vote for your favourite organic business HERE

* Did you know it’s Organic Awareness Month?  Here are ways you can be involved in raising awareness of all the reasons why Organics is better for you.  For your family.  For the planet.  And for organic producers. 

And if you are not already an ORIcoop member make sure you join ORICoop HERE.  And encourage as many others as you can to also join. Don’t forget that the power of numbers to make change is very strong.  Together we are stronger.

(And subscribe to our blog here for our next updates)

 

#nationalorganicweek

#organicawarenessmonth

#bethechange

#organicfarming

#covidhealthwarrior

#healthandwellness

 

 

 

Kym Green – Organic Cherries and Apples – Lenswood South Australia

In the Lenswood Hills of South Australia, this organic farmer of 50 years, combines 6 generations of farming knowledge with an insatiable curiosity and a desire to genuinely observe the apple and cherry trees he stewards for a commercial bounty. He is somewhat of an apple whisperer and far from his self title of being a “silly old bugger on his soapbox” his kernels of wisdom are graceful, gentle and shred only if you desire them.

Organic Agriculture – a clear pathway to Net-Zero

Organic Agriculture – a clear pathway to Net-Zero

I awoke this morning with a lump in my throat.  Hoping that the IPCC report didn’t confirm what we have all known.  Some have known for decades.  Others since the last natural disaster they or their business has had to endure.  What are we to teach and pass onto our children, if it cannot be the urgency and need for us to curb our desire for more and more, with less and less concern or consideration for the earth and its planetary boundaries.  Like a mother that feeds its young – sometimes almost to her own detriment.  So what does our country look like if a 1.5 degree rise by 2030 is in fact true.  What does it mean for our Pacific neighbours? For our communities still in recovery from the last drought, bushfires or floods? 

Organic Agriculture – the Next Generation..

With the Prime Minister announcing his ‘big moves’ to be in technology and hydrogen.  These ‘big moves’ although positive, come directly from the more production, higher yields, cheaper prices and commodity-capitalism mindset that got us into this mess in the first place.  I gasp for air, as I know personally the number of farmers and producers that are farming our land and feeding our nation that know agriculture is a huge part of the solution – if it were managed correctly with the right incentives for exemplary regenerative land management over time.  

Farmers and producers have been at the coal face of planetary boundaries for years.  Since Australia made its last feeble commitment to reducing our carbon footprint in 2005, I personally can recall enough bushfire events (from Black Saturday to the horrific events of the last Black Summer), to the worst floods in history, unprecedented cyclones, droughts and extreme natural disaster events across our country.  Too many to count on one hand, and should be too many for any producer to endure in one lifetime that alone in just 15 years.  What if we only have 60 harvest years left, what if the degradation of soils and water systems could be our last frontier?  Climatic change is upon us, urgency has surrounded us, and together we can watch with fear, act with courage, or pretend that someone else will be the change we are desperately hoping for.  I hope that you will call on your courage to be the change.  We need you now. 

ORICoop together with many contributors, advisors, farmers, producers, experts in their field and businesses are seeking to act on this urgency.  One step at a time.  Now.  We encourage you to take as many of these steps as you can.

  • Know your footprint – for your business, your household, your school
  • Reduce your footprint
    • Install solar, reduce your fossil fuel use
    • Reduce business and household waste
    • Reduce car/fuel use
    • Buy more food seasonally
    • Support local businesses with less of a footprint
    • Check food labels (less imports)
    • Reuse and Recycle fashion
    • Plant a garden, grown your own
  • If you are a farmer ….. (this one’s for you!)
    • Assess your farm sustainability footprint (ask us how)
    • Register your farm for Eco-Credits
    • Reduce your farm dependency on external inputs (urea, NPK fertilisers, fossil fuels)
    • Explore more direct, secure and efficient markets
    • Plan how to increase your carbon in soils and biodiversity (ask us how)
    • Slow down your water flow
    • Make a business resilience plan for your farm
    • Make a strategic plan for the next 10 years for your business
    • Record the natural capital assets that your farm holds
    • Include the value of your human capital in your natural capital

Perhaps join these forces that advocate for long term change.  Together we are stronger.

Today’s news pulls no punches.  For some the glimmer of hope lies in our pastures, in the soil, in the biodiversity and ecosystem that we all should take responsibility to look after.  Every meal we eat.  Every farmer we know. We all need to be part of the urgency in planetary care, of as much carbon drawdown as possible, and as little leach into the atmosphere as we can manage in our daily lives.  You’re part of it. As is your community.

As one climate scientist tweeted this morning:

As a climate scientist, I’d like you to know: I don’t have hope.  I have something better: certainty. 

We know exactly what’s causing climate change.

We can absolutely 1) avoid the worst and 2) build a better world in the process.

Environmental Sustainability Goals (ESG’s)
In Quarter 2 alone, the European Union has amended three major financial, investment, and insurance regulations to include “sustainability” (2021/1256, 2021/1255, 2021/1257). The SEC has formed a 22-person enforcement task force focused on scrutinizing Green Investments & Climate-Related Disclosures. Even the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), which groups market regulators from the United States, Europe and Asia, found that the Trillions of ESG-related investments are burdened with different frameworks, key indicators and metrics, relative weightings as well as qualitative judgement. We need business to lead with united values and urgency. 

At the core of Eco-Credit is the simple idea that data should be collected at the farm level, and that this data remains the property, and under the control, of the farmers. For the long term benefit, and to reward their land stewardship practices for carbon drawdown and preserving natural capital.  To actively demonstrate the capacity of every farmer and land steward to be part of a key part of our drawdown mission – one farm at a time.  With the ability to directly offset organic processors, businesses and financiers footprint – with full traceability and transparency.  

About ORICoop
ORICoop is a National Cooperative of organic and biodynamic farmers.  Of businesses and people that care about food, farms, people and the planet.  Together we can be the leaders of powerful systemic change, to bring value back to producers and landholders at the face of this risk, and demonstrate with our actions to uphold the provision of safe food and habitat for all planetary communities.  And for business to invest in this change, with the urgency of our future as the wind in their sails.  We believe through connecting land, people, business and ethical values we can be strong allies and enact solutions that together can be the change we all hope for.  And our children need to believe it will be enough.

ORICoop engages with Organic and Biodynamic Farmers collectively to demonstrate the direct relationship between healthy food, healthy farms and a healthy planet.  Did you realise that organic agriculture can and should be a leader in the mitigation of carbon drawdown?  See this latest article from FIBL on Organic Farming & Climate Change. A summarised list of these key features included here:-

  • Organic agriculture has considerable potential for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Organic agriculture in general requires less fossil fuel per hectare and kilo of produce due to the avoidance of synthetic fertilizers.
  • Organic agriculture can improve soil fertility and nitrogen supply by using leguminous crops, crop residues and cover crops.
  • The enhanced soil fertility leads to a stabilization of soil organic matter and in many cases to a sequestration of carbon dioxide into the soils.
  • This in turn increases the soil’s water retention capacity, thus contributing to better adaptation of organic agriculture under unpredictable climatic conditions with higher temperatures and uncertain precipitation levels. 
  • Organic production methods emphasizing soil carbon retention are most likely to withstand climatic challenges particularly in those countries most vulnerable to increased climate change. 
  • Soil erosion, an important source of CO2 losses, is reduced by organic agriculture and as a consequence prevents the loss of energy that would occur due to the embedded energy used in industrial agricultural systems.
  • Organic agriculture has the capacity to provide one (1) calorie of food energy for every calorie of energy utilized to produce that food. Typically industrial agriculture requires twenty (20) calories of energy primarily sourced from fossil fuel to produce a calorie of food, hence a higher carbon footprint
  • Organic agriculture can contribute substantially to agroforestry and mixed production systems.
  • Organic systems are highly adaptive to climate change due to the application of traditional skills and farmers’ knowledge, soil fertility-building techniques and a high degree of diversity.

The Way Forward

Our practical actions of supporting organic and biodynamic producers in our everyday lives is a key part of the solution to mitigating our climate emergency and carbon drawdown as a country.  At ORICoop we believe the more farmers that produce food more sustainably, the more land that is managed in a carbon negative manner and the healthier the food is, with a lesser carbon footprint.  It means taking responsibility and action for your business footprint as part of being a responsible citizen.  Every business and family can reduce their footprint and have an impact – and then offset what you can not reduce.  It means that we urgently need to own the overshoot of our lives.  Of business.  Of agriculture.  And drastically make changes today that can peel back the damage our excess of the last 50+ years has created.  

To find out more or to be involved in ORICoop you can join HERE.

#bethechange

#organicfarming

#planetarybalance

What are your End of Financial Year Goals?

What are your End of Financial Year Goals?

Empower the world you want to be part of ……

We know it’s been a rough year for many.  We are rallying support in the last days of the financial year towards organisations that continue to ‘do good’ through these tough times.  Here is our hot list for any tax deductible donations that align with your values …..

* Make a donation to ORICoop Bushfire Fund (tax deductible via AMF)

* Offset your carbon footprint directly with organic producers

* Support our friends at CERES  who continue to do incredible things across Melbourne
 
* Fifteen trees – buy your own tree to be planted and watch them grow

* Buy a carbon credit that goes directly to indigenous communities

* Trees for Life – connecting seeds with farmers one by one

* Buy a piece of rainforest – from just $2.50

* Bush Heritage – supporting bushland conservation

* Tasmanian Land Conservancy – preserving farmland in Tasmania

* Offset Earth – for only $2.50/week

* Firesticks – supporting Indigenous communities

* Organic Matters Foundation – Organic education and buy a tonne of carbon
*
Earthworker Cooperative – supporting businesses transitioning across the Latrobe Valley

  And your yearly financial health check up list!

 * Transfer your super to one that aligns with your investment criteria

* Review your banking (and mortgage choices) to an ethical one

* Switch your browser to Ecosia and plant some trees

* Close down that ‘extra’ credit card

* Invest your funds to enable ethical and sustainable returns that don’t cost the earth

Could your business achieve Net-Zero by EOFY 2021?

We are urgently calling on all ethical, organic, conscious businesses to aim for Net-Zero by the End of this Financial Year.    Let’s show some love for our planet!  Here is how you can start your journey….

* Calculate your carbon and environmental footprint
* Choose credits that align with your business values
* Reduce your footprint through best practice sustainability

Our newly released Eco-Credits can help you achieve this – while directly benefiting organic producers that are increasing the carbon across their farm businesses.  Key outcomes include:-

* Verified independent soil tests confirm carbon drawdown

* Quantification of biodiversity quality and density in every farm system

* Annual ecological reports (including natural capital)

* Eco-Credits™ are only offered once and then retired

* All purchasers receive an Offset Certificate to verify your offset

Apply for your Eco-Credit here

Or you can download an Eco-Credit Application Form here

Or contact us for more information

It’s that ‘Resilience’ time of the year

It’s that ‘Resilience’ time of the year

As the end of this financial year runs to screaming halt – it’s time for us to take stock, and assess the type of world we live in – and how each one of us could be part of the solution to a better world!

Given the incredible outcomes of the Organic Farmers Bushfire Appeal, we are excited about the next steps from here for ORICoop.  And how we as a member owned Co-operative can step up to help when it’s needed.  And stick to our key mission of increasing and enabling more organic farmers to be better stewards of more land over time.  And meet the specific needs of our farming community, member to member.   While connecting our friends, eaters, farmers and investors more closely together, for a better and more aligned food and farming system. 

You can become an ORICoop member HERE

Each year we love putting together our ‘hot’ list of leading organisations.  If you are looking to make a real difference as a tax deductible donation some suggestions are here:-

So what else can I practically do?  Here is a short action list!


We are launching the FIRST edition of BioLogical shortly.  Here you will get the first glimpse of this collaborative journal, that covers organic farming, local stories, bushfire recovery, ethical investment and our community.

And make sure at this complex time, that you connect more closely with your local farmers and your food system.  One bite, one meal, one good investment at a time!

You can keep up with ORICoop via Instagram.  Or subscribe to our blog for our regular updates.



Bushfire Recovery in the midst for these farmers

Bushfire Recovery in the midst for these farmers

The Organic & Regenerative Investment Cooperative kicked off the Organic Farmers Bushfire Appeal with the fires in November 2020.  What started as a $12,000 load of hay to NSW bushfire affected farmers has grown into a significant appeal. Now capturing more than $324,000 (including financial, donations & in-kind support) in value, this has directly benefited each of the bushfire affected organic farmers in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia!  

Collectively between supportive organic farmers, best practice organic advisors, volunteer teams, our bushfire committee and donors, ORICoop has brought together a band of knowledge, experience and learnings. This network can only enhance the long term resilience and benefit of the organic industry.  We thank each of you – and we are not finished yet!

Breakdown of $324,000 raised (and mostly distributed) bushfire appeal funds so far includes:-

  • $89,000 cash raised
  • $28,907 donated organic inputs
  • $72,000 donated organic fodder
  • $14,611 freight subsidy (fodder)
  • $85,000 donated professional time
  • $35,000 donated volunteer coordination

Best Practice Organic Farm Expertise

For many of the bushfire affected farmers – the best ‘value’ of the Appeal, has been their appointed volunteer bushfire recovery consultant.  They have walked through the biology (courtesy of AgPath) and soil nutrient (EAL) tests with each farmer.  From this data they identified the effect of the bushfires and the needs of their farm recovery.  Together with ascertaining the physical damage and parameters using a Visual Soil Assessment and photos, these farmers are now on their road to recovery.  Though the journey ahead is likely to be long and hard, the farmers won’t be walking alone.

Donated organic inputs

We would like to pay tribute to the organic input providers that have generously supported this Appeal.  These are all organically certified products – and each has been tailored to the needs of these farms and their recovery.  

Where to from here?

The Bushfire Committee is currently finalising the last of the applications for the Appeal and putting in place plans for ongoing support of the fire affected farmers.  Now with the COVID-19 restrictions easing, the Committee is looking forward to finalising plans around bushfire recovery workshops and volunteer projects.  

Volunteering opportunities

ORICoop has a need for volunteers to assist with the following (depending on the COVID-19 restrictions of course)

  • Coordinated tree planting days
  • Native tree fundraisers in your region
  • Native animal box making
  • Weed blitz days
  • Bushfire recovery workshop coordination
  • Marketing assistance
  • Volunteer Coordination assistance

Register to be a volunteer HERE

Fundraising and community networking

Contact us if you are interested in hosting a community fundraiser – with funds to support bushfire affected organic farmers in your closest region.  ORICoop is keen to see these farmers be supported for the long term.  For some this is going to take months to years to recover.  Ongoing community support for these farmers to continue is very important.  Some of the farms have lost 30-40% of their orchards, with much of the bushland and wildlife destroyed.  Many have lost infrastructure not least fencing, thousands of metres of irrigation and annual fodder stores.

Farmers tell their stories

We look forward to sharing more about these farmers, and their courageous stories of resilience and recovery.  Christine Watts and Kym Green joined Carolyn, talking about the Bushfire Appeal as part of the Farming Secrets Summit HERE    Both of these farmers show much courage and grit from the devastation they felt.  And the heart behind their farming choices.

You can also catch up with more stories around the Bushfires, in our upcoming BioLogical Journal.  And you can follow our Instagram page HERE.

Stay Well – and now more than ever, support your local organic farmers!  

(photos supplied by Kym Green – credit to Nutri-Soil for their generous donations!)