Transcript of the annual report given at the 2018 AGM by SAGE President, Mark Barraclough
Firstly, I would like to recognise the commitment and efforts of all our volunteers who contribute so much to the day to day running of SAGE. With your enthusiasm and hard work, we achieve so much, thank you.
Today, Geoff Scott, is standing down as treasurer after 7 years in the job. Geoff has seen SAGE through a significant growth period, not the least of which is the farmers market and the intern program. His diligence and careful guidance have been invaluable to SAGE, so thank you Geoff. We have been very fortunate to secure the services of Neil Dolphin, principle of BSC Accountants in Broulee, to take up the treasurer’s role.
Last year, we decided to appoint a mentor for the intern. This was a paid position that was ably taken up by Kyle Levier, our very first intern. The mentor role greatly enriched Leanne Nicole’s internship having an experienced grower/teacher to guide her through the experience. Kat Cathcart (an intern alumni) will be mentoring this year’s intern, Kylie Emmett who starts in September.
Sasha Ermichina (another intern alumni) initiated the successful food share events that occur on the fourth Sunday each month at the garden, an event that has proved to be very popular.
The education and events team play a very important role in our core goals. They have done an outstanding job in bringing together the many workshops and social events throughout the year with perhaps Charles Massy OAM, author and regenerative farming advocate, as the highlight who drew a crowd of 150 people.
A little known and often under appreciated activity that SAGE participates in is supplying produce to the women’s refuges in Moruya. Alda Rudzis and Kathryn Maxwell manage this activity, keeping the garden beds producing and collecting surplus produce from our market stall holders at the conclusion of the farmers market.
This is the second year for the “Veggies for all” program, an initiative that has been tremendously successful and very ably conceived and managed by Kathryn Maxwell. Last year we received $6,900 grant from IMB and such was the success and demand that IMB came good with a grant this year of $17,990. Last year, we installed 52 beds with 142 participants and this year we aim to install 70 beds. A huge logistical exercise organising the workshops then the installs right across the shire, thank you to all those volunteers and to Kyle Levier, the educator, and in particular to Kathryn.
Much of what we achieve is made possible by the support we get from Council. The peppercorn rent on the garden and the rebate from the farmers market that contributes directly to the cost of the intern program to name a few. We wish to thank the Council for their support.
Our award winning farmers market has had another successful year turning 5 on January 1 this year. The e-market continues to slowly grow and, like the market days, depends on the ebb and flow of available produce.
As many would know, the hot topic in the shire has been the Rural Lands Strategy. We made a submission that expressed our concern regarding the potential detrimental effects of ignoring the expert advice in particular the impact on agricultural land and waterways.
This year has been very successful grant year. In addition to the IMB grant for “Veggies for All”, we have been successful in securing the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) grant of $46,000, thanks to Alison Walsh. This grant is what is called a co-funded grant in which we have to contribute 50%, making the total value of the project close to $90,000. Notwithstanding, it has enabled us to build the accessible toilet (at long last) and the InCUBEator. The inCUBEator is demonstrating a temporary shed and accommodation structure for use on land where a building permit may not be available. This is to facilitate essential infrastructure for small scale farming on leased land.
The agriculture sub committee has developed the bones of our strategic focus of the aspirational “100 acre farm”, which has been identified as a key to us growing the growers. This has morphed into what we are calling the “Stepping Stone Farm”, to provide fledgling growers a chance to get established and become independent. This will remain a major focus for the next year.
During the year we also undertook a number of workshops reviewing our brand and also conducted a survey of our membership to help inform our future direction. In addition, in June, we appointed Kate Raymond to manage our digital communications and you will have seen the immediate improvements with the last newsletter.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my fellow committee members for the support during the year and I look forward to another year as president.