Turning an old orchard into a thriving co-operative farm
Faced with retiring and selling up their productive apple, pear, and stone fruit orchard in mid North-East Victoria, Hugh and Katie Finlay created a legal co-operative entity that allows individual farming businesses to share the expenses and collectively lease the land.
The co-op currently includes – a productive vegetable supply business; an eight cow ( with calf ) milking dairy; an organic apple, pear ,and stone fruit group; and a nursery business grafting the hundreds of heritage apples and pears.
The intention ( and result ) was to make otherwise over-priced land, near to population centres, available to young regenerative farmers.
It also tapped into the benefits of a co-operative – waste in one area became fodder in another; costs and labour to market, distribute, and sell their produce can be shared efficiently; and group networking, experience, and knowledge can applied across the whole enterprise