Local farmer to present at national agri-food conference

Shannon Kelly (right) at Full Circle Farm with his family

Dooralong Valley regenerative farmer, Shannon Kelly, will join the big names in Australian and International agriculture at the national agri-food conference Farm2Plate Exchange in Queensland on May 18 and 19.

Kelly will present in a two-hour session with another Australian farmer and Polyface Farm Founder, Joel Salatin.

They will discuss how they have adapted the Polyface farm/direct to consumer-style business and applied it to Australian conditions and markets, including changes to better suit our context and environmental conditions.

Polyface farming is a process of farming that lessens its impact on animals and the environment, producing chemically free and nutrient-dense food.

Kelly’s inspiration to start his own Polyface farm with his family, Full Circle Farm, came after stumbling across one of Joel Salatin’s videos on YouTube.

“The potential to grow food for the community, not destroy the land you farm and actually improve the environment you manage is such an exciting and hopeful notion,” Kelly said.

“The idea is that the consumer buys straight from us, there’s not 28 people touching their produce, the food is straight from the farm to them.

“There are so many reasons why this style of farming can work for farmers in Australia.

“Some of these reasons include being a price setter and not a price taker, which is incredibly powerful for farmers.

“Another reason is that this style of farming is a positive solution to current and evolving environmental concerns that we as a society face.

“This way of farming is a respectable alternative to industrial-style farming where lack of respect seems common for the health of our society, the condition of our environment and the treatment of animals.”

Kelly said that there are three reasons why he thinks this type of farming is important: its positive effect on animal ethics, slow-grown, in their natural environment, always moving onto fresh pasture; it is environmental, carbon sequestration, improving soil, wildlife inclusive, land-healing; and, it is better for nutrition chemical-free, nutrient-dense, healthy food.

Using solar energy, providing open areas for animals to graze, preserving the soil and grass that the animals eat, and relying on natural fertilisers other than chemicals, are just some of the strategies that Kelly has implanted at Full Circle Farm.

Each fortnight, Full Circle Farm sells their beef, chicken, and pastured eggs at a different Club ‘host’ around the Central Coast.

Kelly said that encouraging people to buy locally and support local farmers is a large part of regenerative farming.

“They are like a pop-up mini farmers’ market down the road from where you live, where you can be a part of a community that supports local farms and wants better food for their families,” he said.

“Our Food Clubs are not only great for our customers by buying straight from the person that grows their food, they are also great for the farmer to know the families that he is feeding and give encouragement and hope when farming gets tough, as it sometimes does.”

The two-day Farm2Plate Exchange will also include presentations on topics such as the impact of climate change on farming practices, the future of farming and intergenerational equity, connecting with the conscious consumer, and making food provenance a way of life for Australians post-pandemic.

The event is produced and facilitated by food innovation and regional development agency, Regionality.

In a press release, Regionality Managing Director, Rose Wright, said that this year’s theme of Renewal was imperative given the industry’s recent challenges of droughts, floods, fires and COVID-19.

“There is no question that 2020 was one of the most difficult years on record, but many of our farmers have demonstrated their strength and resilience by pivoting their businesses into innovations like agritourism and new distribution models to adapt to ongoing changing conditions,” Wright said.

“That’s why it’s important to come together this year, to ask questions of our key speakers, debate big ideas, gain insights on new approaches to traditional issues, and have the opportunity to genuinely discuss the growing number of opportunities and challenges that our farmers, food and drink producers, chefs and tourism and hospitality businesses are dealing with every day.

“As the name suggests, the program is designed as an ‘exchange’ for all delegates to not only hear from, but talk to and connect with an incredible line-up of knowledgeable and influential local and international speakers, via a number of panels and workshops that you wouldn’t encounter elsewhere.”

Jacinta Counihan

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