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22 July 2022

Grants for innovative farming and climate change projects

Sustainable Agriculture Small Grants Program now open

Uki farmer Dr Victor Pires

Dr Victor Pires received funding to trial the integration of native vegetation into his farming system using syntropic farming methods.

Tweed farmers keen to improve their farm’s health and tackle climate change are encouraged to put projects forward for the latest round of Council’s Sustainable Agriculture Small Grants Program.

Grants of up to $4,000 are available for eligible activities that trial or lead to the adoption of improved farming practices with applications accepted until 30 August.

The small grants program has been running since 2018 and Council recently committed to another 3 years of the program which will see it run until 2025.

Over the past 4 years, Council has supported a number of quality projects initiated by local producers who have improved farming practices and reduced their impact on the land.

Council’s Program Leader – Sustainable Agriculture Eli Szandala said it was great news to see this valuable program continuing for another 3 years in the Tweed.

“We know that good farming practice is essential for maintaining the viability of our family farms and protecting our unique biodiversity in the Tweed. The future of farming is also critical right now for food security and affordability,” Mr Szandala said.

“Local and world events over the last few years have really highlighted how important sustainable local food production is for community wellbeing but also for the environment, employment and the local economy.”

Previous grant recipients have initiated projects such as rotational grazing systems and multi-species pasture cropping to regenerate grazing land. Other projects have involved excluding cattle from creeks and the use of biological controls in vegetable production to reduce the reliance on chemicals.

“We are particularly interested in supporting projects that have lasting environmental benefits and to help farmers better prepare for the ever-increasing climate disruptions,” Mr Szandala said.

A recipient of a previous grant, Dr Victor Pires is a horticultural producer and syntropic farmer from Uki who used the funding to regenerate a lantana-infested area into a productive food forest.

Dr Pires was able to integrate native tree species into his farming for production and biodiversity benefits which was extremely successful.

“The grant helped me trial a new way of farming. I was able to implement syntropic farming practices to regenerate weedy areas to grow food and native vegetation with minimal to no herbicide. It required relatively low inputs other than some hard work,” Dr Pires said.

Syntropics is an unconventional method of farming that utilises natural processes for productivity rather than relying on artificial inputs like chemicals and fertilisers. The method involves using a diversity of plant species to maximise photosynthesis and organic matter cycling.

The Sustainable Agriculture Small Grants Program is one way Council is working with the community to minimise our impact on the environment, protect and improve the health of our land, waterways and native wildlife and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

To view the grant guidelines and case studies of previous grant recipients, visit tweed.nsw.gov.au/agriculture or contact the program leader – sustainable agriculture on (02) 6670 2400 for further information.


Photo 1: Uki farmer Dr Victor Pires
Caption: Dr Victor Pires received funding to trial the integration of native vegetation into his farming system using syntropic farming methods.

Connection to Council’s Community Strategic Plan:

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We wish to recognise the generations of the local Aboriginal people of the Bundjalung Nation who have lived in and derived their physical and spiritual needs from these forests, rivers, lakes and streams over many thousands of years as the traditional custodians of these lands.