In 2021, Coles awarded grants to 14 small and medium sized businesses, which are implementing plans to improve sustainability and produce more Australian food and beverages.
NSW agricultural business, Sawmill Circuit, will receive a $455,000 grant to purchase a large vacuum truck which will collect manure from 18 dairy farms in Nowra so that it can be transported to a biogas plant which is being built in the local area. Once collected, the manure will be converted to renewable energy and put back into the grid.
Dairy farmers who are part of the plan will benefit from cheaper electricity and will also receive chemical-free liquid fertiliser which they can apply to their pastures.
The vacuum truck – known as a Nuhn Self Propelled Alley Vac – is manufactured in Canada and is unique to Australia. The biogas plant where the effluent will be processed has received funding from the Federal Government and is due to be operational in 2022.
David Ryan of Sawmill Circuit said: “Coles Nurture Fund support to purchase the Alley Vac will make a significant difference to the effluent management for the dairy farms in the Nowra area. It will enable the farmers to collect manure for the Innovating Energy Biogas Plant which will solve an ongoing environmental problem which occurs when heavy rainfall leads to effluent run-off into the Shoalhaven River.”
Local dairy farmer John Henry said the Alley Vac machine that Coles is funding will be an essential part of effluent management plan for dairy farmers in the Nowra region.
“This initiative, which involves the Alley Vac, will protect the environment by reducing runoff into the local waterways whilst converting what is currently a waste product into valuable renewable energy,” he said.
Recycled Plastic Pipe Manufacturers will use a $290,000 grant to purchase equipment to increase its ability to manufacture stormwater drainage pipes from plastic waste, diverting waste from landfill and providing an end-to-end solution in the circular economy.
Managing Director Terry Kay said he was pleased that Coles would support a project that his small family company in country Victoria was trying to progress.
“I’ve been working on recycling plastic into valuable stormwater pipes for more than 20 years and to have recognition from a company like Coles that what we do matters is amazing.
“This assistance will make a huge difference to our business because we will be able to process more waste plastic efficiently, enabling us to work faster and recycle more. We’re very grateful,” he said.
Raffa Fields will receive a $250,000 grant to install climate-controlled polytunnel growing structures to extend the growing season for asparagus in Victoria and replace imports at a time when locally-grown asparagus is not available.
“We were absolutely thrilled to hear the news of our Coles Nurture Fund grant. This support is giving us the leg up to tremendously to innovate our business and pioneer a new growing technique to extend our season and give customers locally-grown asparagus for longer,” Raffa Fields Sales and Operations Manager Rosalee Raffa said.
“It’s encouraging to have Coles backing our project, supporting our business and giving us the confidence to develop our growing techniques. Coles is very much on the same page as growers - it’s support like Nurture Fund that helps us advance into the next phase of our business with confidence.”
Ky D-Pak will use a $250,000 grant to apply Voen all-weather covers to cherries to protect crops from bird and weather damage, provide greater surety of supply in the face of adverse weather, reduce water usage and improve fruit quality.
Director Tony De Pasquale said Ky D-Pak’s project would have taken more than five years to complete without the support from the Coles Nurture Fund.
“With Coles’ support, we have been able to commit to covering 23 hectares of cherries with Voen all-weather covers over the next 16 months.
“This provides business security as we know that we can produce quality product for consumers to enjoy and will be able to employ more labour and provide security to existing workers during the season,” he said.
Shepparton East, Victoria
The Georgopoulos family will receive a $250,000 grant to grow organic fruit with trellising, environmental netting and irrigation.
Georgopoulos Orchards Director Chris Georgopoulos said the grant would enable the family business to meet consumer demand for great quality organic produce.
“We are very conscious of our carbon footprint and are committed to reducing chemicals and introducing cleaner farming practices to give the consumer a truly organic experience,” he said.
Manjimup, Western Australia
Newton Orchards has been awarded $250,000 to install large scale netting over its apple trees to reduce waste, improve pome fruit quality, increase water use efficiency and minimise damage from endangered bird species.
Co-owner and Director at Newton’s, Nic Giblett, said the permanent protective netting supported by the Coles Nurture Fund would enable the business to significantly reduce fresh food waste.
“Our whole Newtons team is rapt and really appreciative of the support from Coles and the vote of continued confidence in our ability to produce fantastic quality fruit in Manjimup WA,” she said.
“Importantly, it will protect crop loss from the critically endangered Baudin’s cockatoo, which decimates WA orchard productivity and growers’ morale, but can only be deterred and managed sustainably through netting that is often beyond the financial reach of farmers.”
Not A Trace will use a $400,000 grant to build an additional bakery production line 100% dedicated to gluten-free and nut-free savoury snacks and crackers.
Not A Trace Director Samantha O’Brien said the business was thrilled to be one of 14 Australian producers awarded a grant.
“The Coles Nurture Fund is a wonderful initiative that supports local producers and manufacturers in Australia. The investment provides a launching ground for small to medium business to realise innovative and sustainable projects placing Australian businesses at the forefront of their industries.
“The grant will enable us to expand our capabilities via a 100% dedicated gluten free, nut free savoury bakery production line. As we bring to life an array of exciting new gluten free savoury snacks and crackers, we will be generating many new local jobs and supporting other local suppliers as we bounce back from an extremely challenging year,” she said.
Dry Creek, South Australia
Spring Gully Foods has been awarded a $380,000 grant to acquire a new pasteuriser to reduce water usage and improve efficiency for the manufacture of condiments and preserved vegetable products.
Chief Operating Officer, Russell Webb, said the news of receiving the Coles Nurture Fund grant was a very exciting moment for their team.
“Our current pasteurising equipment is very energy intensive so the introduction of this new technology and equipment will have a great impact on our production capability. We’re grateful to have this opportunity and look forward to working with Coles on this exciting new project,” he said.
Brunswick, Western Australia
The Ieraci family will use a $30,000 grant to store and re-use dairy effluent in a way that minimises the impact to groundwater and the environment, and benefits crops and pastures.
“As a family-run dairy farm, we are very grateful for the grant, which will assist in designing and constructing an effluent treatment and storage system. The system will allow all the effluent from our dairy operation to be securely stored in a manner that minimises impact to surface and groundwater by preventing nutrients leaching into our soils and threatening the environment. The system will be designed large enough to store dairy effluent during periods when soils are saturated or precipitation exceeds evaporation,” Paul Ieraci said.
“This will then allow us to strategically apply effluent to pasture or crops at times when nutrients can be better utilised and water surface run off is minimised such as the spring and summer periods.
“Coles’ decision to partner with us in this project demonstrates its commitment in protecting the environment and to encourage their dairy suppliers to adapt new technology when and where possible.”
Korumburra South, Victoria
Kintore Pastoral has been awarded a $200,000 grant to build a best practice shelter for dairy cows to improve herd health, reduce nutrient run off, protect soils and result in quality organic fertiliser going back onto pastures.
Michael Armstrong, who is a share farmer at Kintore Pastoral, said the grant will allow it to begin its all-weather shelter project to proceed within the next six months.
“Cow welfare and the environment are paramount at our farm. The shelter will give our herd protection in the wetter months by allowing us to graze pastures on and off. This form of grazing will allow us to still fully feed our cows and at the same time reduce damage to pastures,” he said.
“Cow welfare in both the winter and summer months will be better managed with the new shelter. The cows will be able to cool off under misters and fans on extreme heat days and be protected from prevailing weather in the wetter months.”
Glenbank Farm, run by a family of three female dairy farmers, has been awarded a $250,000 grant to build compost-bedded, solar-powered loafing sheds to provide a sheltered area where cows are protected from extreme heat in summer and wet mud in winter.
“We are so pleased to be recipients of the Coles Nurture Fund. The deep-bedded compost barn will not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, it will also allow us to improve cow welfare in a changing climate,” Manager Kristen Clark said.
That Spirited Lot Distillers will receive a $220,000 grant to expand its manufacturing capacity to increase its production of a line of spirits and support the use of solar energy and recycled wine waste material.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be recipients of the Coles Nurture Grant. As a small family business, this funding will make a huge difference to the growth of That Spirited Lot Distillers over the next two years. The funding will help us to buy much needed equipment to help us automate our production processes, which means spending less time getting our product into bottles and more time getting our products to customers,” Co-Director of That Spirited Lot Distillers Sarah Barton said.
The Caithness family will receive a $180,000 grant to use a combination of genomics, ultrasound scanning, estimated breeding values and artificial insemination in its commercial herd to improve eating quality, productivity and profitability.
“We are very excited and appreciative to be given funding to expand and enhance our knowledge in our beef herd through the addition of genomic data on each individual animal,” Nena Caithness said.
“This will enable us to make more informed animal breeding decisions, with the aim to ultimately have animals with a better carcass and a better eating experience, increased MSA index, resulting in increased profitability.”
Tintinara, South Australia
Mt Boothby Pastoral has been awarded a $340,000 grant to reduce its carbon footprint by installing solar energy systems and helping to close the loop within a diversified and integrated agricultural production system.
“Our team and business continually strive for improvement in all aspects of production, welfare and efficiency. We are extremely proud to be awarded a Coles Nurture Fund grant which consolidates and fast tracks our sustainability focus by reducing our carbon footprint through the use of renewables in a closed loop diversified production system,” Mt Boothby Pastoral Director Andrew Johnson said.
“It is so rewarding to be working with the Coles team who should be congratulated in supporting business - often regional and farmers - to enhance and improve sustainable agricultural supply chains. We are looking forward to delivering the outcomes in a collaborative team effort.”