- The person pays a once-off joining fee ($50)
- The person has applied for 5 organic shares at $10 per share
- The person is able to use or contribute to the services of the co-operative
- Is supportive of the overall mission of ORICoop
Featuring the high-quality bulk organic grains of our Cooperative members, ORCA is already providing direct benefits to local farmers like Ruth and Ray Penfold as well as addressing some of the issues faced by organic producers, processors, and consumers such as sustainable pricing, transparency, and authenticity of produce.
Over 350 tonnes of bulk organic grain has already been sold under the ORCA brand since its launch. Ruth and Ray were among the first producers to sell their organic barley under ORCA, and the Riverina farmers are excited to see how the brand and its innovative technology will help them and fellow producers in the future.
“Absolutely this is a game changer, especially for someone new coming into the market,” Ruth said.
“Understanding what the buyers want and having that communication there is only a positive. It’s helping them maintain retailer shelf space and prominence for the broader industry knowing they can get reliable and quality supply, it’s a big plus,” she said.
Carolyn Suggate, Executive Director of ORICoop, said creating ORCA was about ‘Connecting the missing pieces’.
“We embarked on this ambitious ORCA project as we knew that with this support, our producers could grow more organic product, achieve better on-farm profitability and we could improve the trust and transparency in organic produce sourced directly from each of these farms,” Carolyn said.
“Given we are a Producer Cooperative, the farmers and their business sustainability is the key to all we do.”
Technology is at the forefront of helping producers achieve the transparency and traceability of organic produce now demanded by processors and consumers, as well as achieve fairer pricing along the entire supply chain. The tailored online platform ensures every product from every farm is fully traceable on the blockchain, and will also help producers manage their on-farm grain seeding, harvest and storage more efficiently.
“The whole paddock to plate is incredibly important for the transparency of the industry, and it is the way everything is moving. Where traceability and ORCA supply chain connect is having sustainable and transparent prices on farm for producers, and the buyers paying fair prices, landed at their business, and that’s the only way we’re going to have a sustainable industry moving forward for the long term,” Ruth said.
“Our two big things are transparency, and understanding the story of the buyer, the feel-good warm fuzzy moment of knowing you’re selling to a mum-and-dad dairy farm down the road, but then also knowing what the processors want and that you’re able to produce what they’re after, and knowing you have a saleable product,” she said.
“I like the fact we can send grain directly to the farmer, and you’re also dealing with another farmer on the buyer’s side who is also trying to have a sustainable business for their kids moving forward as well.”
ORICoop Director Maroye Marinkovic said the Cooperative is aiming to bring big-corp benefits to the mostly smaller family farming operations who are part of the ORCA brand.
“There are many points of differentiation for ORCA produce. Every grain, or drop of milk, can be traced back to the farm – a farm that has a powerful story to tell. ORCA is connecting farmers to a set of tools and approaches that make this possible for organic producers of any size. Thanks to digital technology,” Maroye said.
“In addition to provenance and traceability, as ORICoop members, ORCA farmers also have the opportunity to join the EcoCredit program, which enables a detailed set of data points that cover everything from soil health, biodiversity, water quality, and even native species,” he said. This builds their farm profile and determines the on-farm sustainability, natural capital and the true cost and footprint of the food that is produced. An absolute game changer,” he said.
“Having end-to-end traceability along with rich on-farm and post-farm data, certifications, test results, supply chain proof points, chain of custody – are typically things that only highly efficient corporations could achieve. ORCA aims to make this available to producers of any size, and share the upside benefits with our members.”
Maroye also sees ORCA as a way for both farmers and processors to bring the benefits of ethically and environmentally-friendly grown and processed produce to consumers.
“ORCA isn’t just about building farmer capacity, tools, and storytelling – it will go way beyond that. The vision is to strengthen and sustainably grow the entire organic value chain, with shared benefits. Farmers and manufacturers can plan together, and grow together, and bring those shared benefits to the consumer,” he said.
“There is an increasing demand for high quality, healthy and organic produce, with a transparent view of how it was produced, and where. Not only the consumers want this, but the food manufacturers, as well. Ethically sourced, environmentally friendly produce is definitely better but traditionally, the barriers were scale, price and availability of organic supply. ORCA was created to tackle these challenges, whilst improving and amplifying the benefits of organic, regenerative and biodynamic farming.”
*For more information, or to register your interest bulk produce from local ORCA producers, click here.
*To discuss your specific bulk grain requirements contact ORCA directly – email@example.com
*To join ORICoop as a producer or to find out click HERE
*Producers are invited to join our Regenerative Cropping day on October 24th in the Riverina
Ray Penfold and his family Jessie (7), Matilda (11), Quade (10), Amanda (11).
Location: Quandialla and Condobolin, Central West NSW
Produce: Certified organic oats and barley, conventional cropping and livestock (Merino sheep, Hereford-Angus cross cattle)
Ruth and Ray Penfold and their families have been farming for generations. Their current business structure has been in operation since 2011.
Following severe drought, they moved to certified organic cereal cropping in 2021 and have just delivered their first harvests this year. However, even within their conventional operations, Ruth and Ray already farm in a fairly regenerative manner, avoiding sprays wherever possible, using certified organic and natural fertilisers. They also focus heavily on soil health to boost crop production and improve the quality and diversity of feed available for their merino sheep and Hereford-Angus cross cattle.
“Fundamentally we want to farm in a better way so that our kids have got a viable business moving forward, and if you can look after your soil, it grows the grass for your livestock, it grows your crop for your grain, so you have to look after it,” Ruth said.
As newcomers to organic farming, they have joined ORICoop, a National Organic Producers Cooperative, that enables producers to build more resilient markets while enabling investment into supply chain barriers. Ruth and Ray have taken part in the ORCA project, which has received funding from Sustainable Table Fund, to understand the barriers for new and experienced organic grain producers across the Riverina, and to identify strategic pathways to a more transparent and profitable outcome for producers.
“I like the fact we can send grain down direct to the farmer, and you’re also dealing with another farmer on the buyer’s side who are also trying to have a sustainable business for their kids moving forward as well,” Ruth said.
“I really like what ORICoop and ORCA is looking to achieve, and we’ve already sent a few loads through the new process. From an organics producers’ mind, the feed market is such a big industry, and where do you start if you don’t have the contacts as a beginner? Through conversations and a workshop, I got in touch with Carolyn from ORICoop, and understood what ORICoop is trying to achieve through the ORCA project. This is a game changer especially for someone new coming into the market.”
Ruth and Ray live in a marginal area, so they need to be mindful of what they grow and when. And make the most of each market.
“We’ve been fully certified since 2021, last year’s crop for us was our first certified crop. We had a good growing season, above average rainfall. We are in a marginal area in central NSW you get more dry years than wet years, and last year was just unbelievable as far as the rain that fell, the rain continued when we were ready to harvest, there were a lot of downgrades,” Ruth said.
“We are open to trialing different crops should there be a market for specific crops that also align with seasonal conditions.’ Cereals, particularly wheat, oats and barley, are well-suited to our rotation. Our oats and barley are very easy to grow, and if you’ve got a failed crop you’ve got options, particularly when you are a mixed enterprise, you’ve got livestock to graze off or hay for either stockfeed or sale. Sunflowers would be on our radar if seasons permit, however with sunflowers they aren’t multi purpose they only have one purpose – sale. That’s why we’re just with the cereals at the moment, and we’re also new to the organic industry, we need to find our feet, establish a network and diversify our risk.
ORCA is also undertaking grain storage and processing potential for organic farmers in the Riverina region, which Ruth sees as being important to addressing some of the other key challenges organic grain and cereal producers face.
“The biggest downfall with being certified for us is grain storage, you have to have good grain storage, and it has been an achilles for us, so we have invested in on-farm storage this year. If ORCA are able to provide grain storage it would certainly help – we would still invest in further on-farm storage in due course, but instead of having the capital outlay of $200,000 to $300,000 in the short term, it gives producers the ability to keep growing and expanding or being able to capitalise on good seasonal conditions.” Ruth said.
“Definitely for us, the storage facility would encourage us to increase our certified country, knowing that we can then transport our certified grain to the storage site in southern NSW, it’s closer to the end market. The additional storage site would be of benefit to our business in the immediate future. If we were to diversify into other crops, like sunflowers, then the processing side would also be a big benefit to us. We also know other producers in the Riverina, where the processing side would be of benefit to them as opposed to the storage, so the combination of the two is fantastic.”
A key part of ORCA is transparency, ensuring consumers and buyers are getting high quality, ethically-grown products, as well as ensuring farmers receive fair pricing for their produce.
“The whole paddock to plate is incredibly important for the transparency of the industry, and it is just the way everything will go,” Ruth said.
“Our two big things are transparency, and understanding the story of the buyer, the feel-good warm fuzzy moment of knowing you’re selling to a mum-and-dad dairy farm that are trying to do the same as you, provide a cleaner product and future for your kids. Being able to understand the processor’s requirements and then being able to grow that grain, knowing you have a market for your product just makes good business sense.”
To enquire about bulk organic grain requirements you can contact ORCA directly or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Story written by Amanda Sproule
The ORCA project is grateful for the seed funding from The Sustainable Table Fund.