Toil on the soil pays off for young Kyogle farmer
YEARS of loving toil on her Kyogle area farm has paid off for local organic farmer Sasha Welker, who won the 'Rising Star' Young Organic Farmer of the Year Award at a national awards ceremony in Sydney last night.
Ms Welker and partner Rhys Minton have grown a booming organic vegetable business on their two-hectare property since buying it seven years ago with a dream of becoming organic farmers.
The couple now run a popular stall at the Lismore Organic Farmers Market every Tuesday, where the farm's mainstay crop of garlic sells with various other organic delights.
The 27-year-old said she was touched by the support of the Northern Rivers community in helping her win the vote-based award.
She ended up getting close to 700 votes, more than double the other finalist.
"The part that really blew me away was how I would ask people and they were just so willing to help and vote for me," she said.
"It was really nice. What an awesome community we have here."
For her efforts Ms Welker was awarded a three-month leadership program from the Organic Federation of Australia valued at $5500.
She said she believed the model of Community Shared Agriculture was a key to the growth of organic farming, which is akin to a membership model where farmers get a guaranteed income, reducing risk and waste.
"You can get farm shares, you can get meat shares, it's generally $500-600 for six months. It's a total bargain for the consumer, it works out to around $20 per week. There's also open days where people can come to the farm... you get to know your farmer as well."
"It's a win win for both the consumer and the farmer it's a really cool model and I'd love to start doing it here."
"I'd (also) love to keep reaching more and more people locally and keep working out how to produce a lot of food on a small acreage and have that sustainable closed loop cycle."