News from the coop

Most of you would be aware that Sellar Farmhouse Creamery farms on a property along side other land based enterprises, together we call ourselves the Harcourt Organic Farming Coop.

HOFC team 2024

Over the past six years we’ve had many different versions of the Coop, from the people and enterprises involved to the financial structure. Always trying to refine the model, often learning more from our mistakes than our successes.

Our fresh faced founding HOFC team in 2018

To begin with I had seen the Coop as this practical solution to accessing farm land which I could never afford to buy. As well as enhancing each enterprise; sharing market stalls and organic certification. But I quickly realised the real value for me was farming along side other people. Farming can be very isolating and having people on farm to share the ups and down with has been integral for me to be still farming now. Relationships can be hard, they take time and investment, they often can make farming seem like easy work. I feel our human skills of holding relation with others has been seriously weakened with modernity. Yet I think it’s fundamental if we are to make any progress in the world we face ahead. I also believe that when done well, working together pays back ten fold.

Immeasurable energy has been invested in this land and community by dozens of people who’ve at some stage been involved in HOFC; endless meetings by the founding team, countless vollies bringing knowledge, experience, food and life to the place. We have all been bricks in building what the Coop is now. We’ve had big changes over the past year and are putting out best gumboot forward to step into the next iteration of the Coop. So here’s a little bit about the Coop and our exciting news.

HOFC xmas party 2021

“We honour interconnected relationships with our communities, this land and each other through supporting HOFC members to grow nutritious food.”

HOFC Holistic statement of purpose.

Who are we?

HOFC is a collaboration of diverse organic farmers who lease land on a single farm in Harcourt. We are passionate about learning our craft, feeding our community, and making direct and meaningful connections with our customers, for example through Community Supported Agriculture, farm tours, weekly farmers markets and school programs. We aim to make the farm as productive as possible, within a collaborative framework. Nature always does better with diversity, this model allows the farm to thrive while the people can specialise and focus on their area of interest.

Farm tour 2023

Our Current members are:

Sellar Farmhouse Creamery – You know the spiel
The Orchard Keepers – Currently led by landholders Katie and Hugh Finlay and a crew of CSA members and volunteers dubbed ‘fruit crew’. 
They manage the organic fruit orchard growing cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples and pears.
Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery – Under the mentorship of Merv Carr, who has been grafting and budding heritage fruit trees for over 50 years, Katie Finlay and her sister Liz Carr are continuing the family tradition. Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery grows a huge variety of quality heritage fruit trees for sale in winter as barerooted trees.

The farm also hosts:
Bushfoods plot run by Murnong Mummas – an Indigenous-lead social enterprise involved in the native foods and botanical sector.

Bushfoods plot

Our previous members include:

  • Gung Hoe Growers – Started by Mel & Sas, then continued on by Mel and a dedicated crew of passionate and skillful staff and vollie. Gung Hoe Growers fed their local community through year round and seasonal CSA veggie boxes, servicing select restaurants, cafes and caterers, local green grocers and the Wednesday weekly Farmers Markets in Castlemaine.
  • Tellurian Fruit Gardens – Ant Wilson leased the orchard here for 3 years, taking the orchard into a new sales model of CSA fruit boxes, while continuing to sell at farmers markets.

The WWF grant

In 2022 HOFC was awarded a grant from the World Wildlife Fund; Australia’s ‘Innovate to Regenerate’ funding. This grant has given us the opportunity to examine and document the history and work of HOFC to share with the wider community.
We’re now excited to share with you our three hefty resources as well as two online events.

Farm tour 2023

Land-sharing models

With the help of Open Food Network Australia, we documented HOFC members experiences with the Co-operative farming model, what’s worked well and what has been challenging. We explored possibilities for other models to help us consider ‘what next’ for HOFC.
Read the report

Whole Farm Planning

With the synthesis and facilitation of Anne Maree Docking at Thriving Rural, and input from workshops with Djaara, David Holmgren at Holmgren Design and the local CFA, HOFC worked on seeing the farm as a whole; ecologically, agriculturally and socially. We think working on a process like this could be a great help to anyone considering collaborative farming.
Read the report

Small Farm Viability

Friends of HOFC & food system practitioners, Jess Drake and Meg Roberts, explored the viability of each small farm enterprise that is part of HOFC. This included analysis of financials, and extended to holistically consider values, business intentions, livelihood and skills. All of these dynamics inter-playing to create very different ‘ingredients’ for viability in each enterprise.
Read the report

Join our online events!

Co-op 
relaunch 
webinar

This Thursday June 6, 
7-8pm
Join us to celebrate us relaunching HOFC for the next iteration, including screening of our new short film, sharing of our new collaborative farming resources and interactive Q&A
Reserve your spot

Small farm enterprise planning
 & ideas jam

Tuesday June 11, 
7-8pm
We are holding a smaller session for those seriously interested in joining the Co-op. You will have the chance to ask questions and shape your own enterprise proposal (either for joining the Co-op or just to help clarify your thinking).
Reserve your spot

You can also stay up to date with all the Coop by subscribing to the HOFC newsletter

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