Cardinia shire landholders are being invited to offer a small parcel of their land to a community project that teaches young city slickers how to get into agriculture by growing garlic.
The Farmer Incubator program helps young people from non-farming backgrounds to overcome some of the hurdles facing people wanting to get onto the land.
Landowners are being asked to spare about 80 square metres of land with water access, for teams of three or four to work the land using organic principles.
The pop-up garlic farms provide participants with access to land, resources and mentorship to learn how to grow a crop on a larger scale than what they could produce in their own backyard. Program participants are taught how to co-farm while working in small groups to grow garlic from seed to harvest.
Students get access to expertise, workshops and lean how to navigate their way around challenging seasonal conditions, as well as how and where to sell their produce. The idea was coined by Keilor-based market gardener Paul Miragliotta who wanted to encourage more people to achieve their dreams of getting dirt under their fingernails.
“Australia has an ageing farmer population and it’s difficult for people to make a start in farming, I see a lot of desire in young people to do it but it can be hard to navigate,” Mr Miragliotta said
“I found it was easier to start a collaborative effort and maintain something with other people. Garlic is a crop with less pressure, it needs less irrigation and it can be stored easily.”
Mr Miragliotta said problems included accessing affordable farmland, particularly in peri-urban areas, as well as large farms being swallowed up by foreign interests and shrinking knowledge bases.
He said a collaborative approach meant there were stronger support structures as well as pooled capital and resources.
Previous pop-up garlic farms have been run at Ballan, the Mornington Peninsula and at CERES in Brunswick and previous participants had gone onto run garlic farms or work in agriculture.
Pop-up garlic farm facilitator Ryan Decoite said they were eyeing-off land in Cardinia to run a program in 2020 as it was an ideal location not far from the city, with lots of arable land.
“We are looking for someone with land who is receptive to our ideas and ethics for sustainable farming and the recognition for the need for new farmers,” Mr Decoite said.
“We are jumping into peri-urban communities and revitalising it, bringing in a new generation of farmers and connecting sustainability with their passion for the land.” For more information, visit farmerincubator.org.