Prior to this year’s SAGE AGM and probably over one or 2 beers, a couple of SAGE members tossed around ideas of how we can continue to contribute to the SAGE vision in the limited time available to us. What could be our focus? SAGE has many arms of activity and a requirement for people power to pull it off effectively. However it is difficult to say the least to be across all those activities and so we wanted to focus on one area that we felt needed some attention.
And so at the SAGE AGM Kyle Levier and myself proposed we focus on helping to facilitate increased agricultural output in our region. We now have another focus group to SAGE – SAGE Agriculture.
What does that even mean? Well that’s a good question and took another afternoon at the bar with fellow conspirators Mary Anderson and Catherine Potter ( Pres Mark Barroclough also attended to ensure level headedness and focus) for us all to narrow down what we think we can achieve over the next SAGE term and into the future.
Productivity – To increase productivity from the existing land base in our area. This means more growers need training, increasing the existing potential of the growers we have and perhaps even attracting new growers to the area. Our immediate task to that end is to develop ideas around what skills new growers need to learn to get started and develop a program to do just that. Also we are looking at determining the factors that limit current production with existing growers. There is also discussion around the SAGE community contributing to a loan fund to be paid back with produce or cash and dependent upon a good business plan.
Connectivity – We discussed that this is not the connection between consumers and producers as SAGE Farmers Market does that very well already. This will be more about forming a land share register, lease agreements, connecting to Council’s Rural Producer’s Advisory Committee and connecting skilled farmers and older experience to newcomers. Essentially building a local farmers network.
Implementation – We want to make plans that we can achieve without necessarily waiting for grants. We’d like to utilise what we have, where we are. And so while we’re working on the big picture stuff there’s little things we can do. The land share register mentioned above is one. Organising working bees on our new grower’s patches is another. Developing a sound loan structure to help startups could be another. Just maintaining open lines of communication with key council staff is another.