Lauren Kathage MP (11:50am)
I had the privilege with the Minister for Small Business recently to visit Walwa Park Farms in Upper Plenty.
This is owned by David Markham, and he has created a farm share arrangement where he is supporting young farmers to get on their feet and establish themselves as small businesses.
That includes Thanisa Adams of Wattle Gully Flower Farm, and I am sure the minister will agree with me that her cosmos cupcake flowers were beautiful, absolutely outstanding. Congratulations to her.
Also there at Previous Walwa Document Park is Plenty Valley Produce, which is run by Michael Collins and Sam Shacklock. This is an organic small-scale market garden business. They take great care with each and every plant that they produce, and it is high-end produce.
So if you dine out at one of the top restaurants in the city tonight, there is a good chance that you will be eating something from Plenty Valley Produce. This is a peri-urban small-scale vegetable producer, and they have grown rapidly as a business over the last two years.
Their reputation in providing produce to these high-quality, top-notch restaurants in Melbourne depends on their reputation for high-quality and hygienic produce, so it is important that we have the standards and the regulations in place so that consumers can have confidence in their product and so that they have a competitive edge against others who may not.
While we were there, they showed the minister and me their practices for maintaining high food safety standards.
We were there on a Friday, which is their harvest day. They harvest once a week ahead of the weekend markets and onto the wholesalers to the restaurants.
It was a busy day, and I am sorry that we got in their way a little bit there. Some of their practices for maintaining the standards that are referred to in the bill are really straightforward, like not allowing food to touch the floor.
But some of it was more complicated, and that related to the refrigeration of produce. That is definitely one of the more expensive items for them as a small business. It took them some time to work up to that.
These capital-intensive startup requirements can be difficult for small-scale farmers, and as land for farming, especially in peri-urban areas such as Upper Plenty, reduces it will be important for government to consider how best to support these hardworking people.