Amelia Bright (Amber Creek Farm and Sawmill & Prom Coast Food Collective - South Gippsland) & Sallie Jones (Gippsland Jersey & Warragul Farmers Market - East Gippsland)
"We've had adversity every single year . so we're getting used to it!" - Sallie Jones
The start of 2020 was horrendous for many rural producers in Victoria. Many were affected by the massive bushfires across the state, they lost crops, stock and infrastructure, and they were looking forward to a better rest of the year to make up the shortfall. Then the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic occurred and the lockdown made a bad situation, much worse.
However there were some silver linings. Many primary producers found innovative ways to 'pivot' their business, using their produce, networks and determination to turn their misfortune around. Amelia Bright, a pig farmer from Amber Creek Farm and Sawmill & cofounder of Prom Coast Food Collective, and Sallie Jones, a dairy farmer from Gippsland Jersey & cofounder of Warragul Farmers Market, are two of those producers. Both from Gippsland, they both lost all their cafe and restaurant orders overnight.
The suddenness of panic buying forced many consumers to go straight to the source for their food. Amelia and Sallie had to adapt their business model to meet new demands. Having multiple channels to sell their product assisted them greatly. New technologies helped them too.
Both of them found that people were willing to buy local when their usual channels were blocked and they wanted to support primary producers. The loss of the corporate supermarket "middle men" was a factor too, Australians were going back to basics and happily buying farmer direct.
"Overseas really want our clean green image as well. And I think with COVID and the way that we've managed it and hardly having any cases and stuff, that's going to be a really good PR thing for us because we are this healthy country that avoided the COVID." (Sallie Jones)
Working on the land has always been difficult in Australia but the addition of this pandemic has made it worse. While the future is still unknown, the ingenuity of Australian farmers, making the best out of a bad situation, shines through yet again.
See separative articles about the experiences with COVID-19 by Amelia Bright and Sallie Jones attached to this piece below.
- Telephone interview with Amelia Bright (Amber Creek Farm and Sawmill & Prom Coast Food Collective) Friday 22 May 2020
- Telephone interview with Sallie Jones (Gippsland Jersey & Warragul Farmers Market) Thursday 28 May 2020