Growing interest being nurtured

Sjanna SandalovaGreat Southern Herald

Wide Open Agriculture gave locals the opportunity to visit its Wheatbelt shadehouse in Wedgecarrup to see produce being grown and distributed.

It is the only shadehouse in the Wheatbelt and aims to deliver fresh and healthy produce to local communities.

Wide Open Agriculture managing director Ben Cole said the purpose of the open days last week was to show the public diversified farming in the Wheatbelt region was possible.

“This shadehouse is only 10 months old. We are learning that you actually can grow vegies in the region, and through these open days we are hoping people can see that and get inspired to grow their own vegies,” he said.

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Food for Reasons is a marketing strategy to allow locals to taste the produce first hand by distributing seasonable vegetable boxes to Katanning and surrounding areas.

Head Grower Damien Rigali with guests Mel Charlick and Declan McGill
Camera IconHead Grower Damien Rigali with guests Mel Charlick and Declan McGill Credit: Sjanna Sandalova

“We only use organic inputs, so organic fertiliser and organic pest control, and we are also trying to build and integrate ecology and biodiversity into the growing systems,” Mr Cole said.

“We have planted a lot of the native bee forage shrubs and we have bee hives for pollination.”

Wide Open Agriculture’s aim is to encourage diversified farming within the region.

“This is just the start,” Mr Cole said.

“In March, we are aiming to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange as a Mircocap.

“With the money we raise, we want to expand to a two-hectare shadehouse.

“By then, we will know our production system and our marketing system, and then we also want to bring in packaged food, like a Wheatbelt-inspired cereal or muesli bar, to tell the story that the Wheatbelt is still here and growing produce.

“We are striving to change the thought from the Wheatbelt being predominantly wheat, to the ‘food belt’,” he said.

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