Growing a farm for charity

Published 12:00pm 22 December 2020

Growing a farm for charity
Words by Nick Crockford

Meals on Wheels (MoW) Pine Rivers and The Mini Farm Project are taking ‘local’ to new heights with $20,000 from the RACQ Foundation.

The donation has helped start a mini farm on land at Millen Farm in Samford, where local produce will be grown and donated free to the local MoW group.

It is anticipated this will enable MoW Pine Rivers to make huge savings and divert essential funds to other vital parts of its service.

First crop

“We deliver between 43,000 and 47,000 meals a year and being able to grow our own fruit and vegetables will reduce purchasing costs by up to $65,000 a year,” says Wendy Smith, Meals on Wheels Pine Rivers Business Manager.

“Thanks to the RACQ Foundation grant we’ve already harvested our first crop and were able to buy irrigation, tools and equipment, seeding rolls for planting, composters and a washing machine to spin the greens.”

Locally grown

RACQ Foundation spokesperson Lucinda Ross said: “Eating a healthy, balanced diet is so important to the people that receive these meals and now they know that the fruit and vegetables they receive have been grown locally and sustainably.

“This year, we extended the eligibility to make it possible for organisations affected by COVID-19, like Meals on Wheels Pine Rivers and District, to access grants just like those impacted by natural disasters.”

Seasonal fare

Nick Steiner, Founder and CEO of The Mini Farm Project, said it has half an acre of leased land at Millen Farm. A quarter acre is producing food just for MoW.

“We grow as much seasonal food as we can,” says Nick, “currently we have Asian greens coming through (bok choy, pak choy and tatsoi) as well as basil and coriander.

“In early January they will be followed with radish, salad mix, carrots, egg plant, capsicum, chillies and more.”

The Mini Farm Project, a registered charity, converts ‘under-utilised spaces into urban farms to grow food for those in need,” says Nick.

Project’s goal

It has half an acre at Millen Farm. Produce grown on the other quarter is sold to employ a full-time farmer and make the farm self-sustaining.

“Our goal over the next five years is to develop 1000 acres to produce free food for charities,” says Nick.

“In the short term we are looking for 10- 30 acres in the Moreton Bay Region to grow additional crops for Meals on Wheels and other local charities.”

The number of farms will depend on land sizes supplied. Nick says Moreton Bay Regional Council is aware of The Mini Farm Project’s aims.

More information about the RACQ Foundation can be found here.

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