Making farm dreams a reality

Gregor Heard
By Gregor Heard
August 15 2020 - 8:00pm
Phillipa and Skeet Lawson, pictured together with their girls Annabelle and Georgia, are making gluten-free lentil flour from lentils grown on their Pinnaroo, SA, property.

FARMERS are an innovative lot.

Across the length and breadth of our nation there are examples of the entrepreneurial spirit within agriculture, whether it be pulse growers value adding their product by marketing direct to the consumer or growers getting into new crops such as ginger.



To assist with these projects and make dreams reality, the next round of the Farmers2Founders (F2F) Ideas Program is open.

The deadline for the program is fast approaching, with applications closing on August 21 and the program kicking off mid-September.

The program takes the form of a three month online development program.

Farmers2Founders is supported by AgriFutures, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) with a view to encouraging innovation in agriculture.

The successful 12 applicants, designed to be regional-based, producer-led start-up businesses, will the chance to connect and learn from world-class business coaches and mentors.

Following the course it is intended they will have the skills necessary to transition their idea from a plan drawn up around the kitchen table to a reality and how to best ignite their business dream.

One of the graduates of the first round of the program was South Australian red lentil producer Phillipa Lawson, Pinnaroo.

Since participating in the previous F2F Ideas Program the farmer has a new product ready to hit local shelves - a gluten free lentil flour.

"My fussy daughter was the main inspiration for turning our lentils to flour," Ms Lawson said.

"Finally I was able to get some protein into her diet and I discovered our lentil flour was the perfect way to thicken sauces and add nutrients to baked goods."

Other participants include Gary Flechtner, who is investigating an agronomic project.

His idea centres around developing a tool that will eliminate the need to cultivate soil and will allow for crops to be established more timely with less required rainfall.

The F2F program has helped fast-track the progress of the ideas to reality.

"We could not have achieved what we have in that short amount of time (without them)," Ms Lawson said.

"I think it's great that there's a program like this to help farmers get their ideas out of the paddock, because there are a lot of innovative farmers out there who are looking to grow and transform their business."

The concept of F2F came about when co-founders, Sarah Nolet (AgThentic) and Christine Pitt (Food Futures Company) saw a gap between the agriculture and tech communities, and knew a different approach was needed to solve the problem.

Dr Pitt said one of the aims of F2F was to support more producers into the startup market.



"COVID-19 has shown just how important technology and critical thinking is to innovation and we believe this combination with agriculture will be vital to Australia's economic recovery."

She said a silver lining of the pandemic for the rural community was that with movement restriction in place remoteness is not necessarily the obstacle it was previously.

"Now more than ever, it's obvious that geography is no longer an impediment to getting new and exciting agrifood concepts and value added products into the market."

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

National Grains Industry Reporter

Gregor Heard is Fairfax Ag Media's national grains industry reporter, based in Horsham, Victoria. He has a wealth of knowledge surrounding the cropping sector through his ten years in the role. Prior to that he was with the Fairfax network as a reporter with Stock & Land. Some of the major issues he has reported on during his time with the company include the deregulation of the export wheat market, the introduction of genetically modified crops and the fight to protect growers better from grain trader insolvencies. Still involved with the family farm he is passionate about rural Australia and its people and hopes to use his role to act as an advocate for those involved in the grain sector. Away from work, he is a keen traveller, having spent his long service leave last year in Spain learning the language.

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