Farmer wants to raise organic understanding

Yeo’s Joe Sgro wants Colac district people to eat the food from Colac district growers.

YEO vegetable farmer Joe Sgro wants to dispel myths about organic produce.

His first message is that organic does not equate to expensive.

The second is the label organic does not imply a product is certified organic.

Mr Sgro, who has been producing organic vegetables for 18 years, said it was important for people to understand that organic produce should not cost more than conventional vegetables at the supermarket.

He said it could even be cheaper.

“Organic food – it’s not dear,” Mr Sgro said.

“Yes there is parts where it is expensive, but that is like buying bananas or cherries at the moment.

“The part of organic is that you eat it when it’s in season and you watch the price on the dearers and lines.”

Mr Sgro is part of a Paddock-to-Plate campaign, which encourages Colac and district people to eat produce grown “right at our back doorstep”.

He is also registered with organic certifier National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia.

“Being a grower doesn’t just mean that you don’t use chemicals,” he said.

“We’ve got a certification here – we’re registered with a body called NASAA and we’ve got a registration.”

As part of his involvement with the Paddock-to-Plate campaign, Mr Sgro wants to encourage children to grow their own vegetables and eat organic produce through their school studies.

“The shire got involved and I think if the shire gets involved it might have a chance to go to the school kids,” Mr Sgro said.

“I said to Brian Crook ‘I think the first thing we should do is get the kids involved’,” he said.

“If you teach them young, they’ll know that it’s good to eat that food.

“It’ll teach kids not to ruin the environment and to eat healthy food.”

Colac Otway Shire mayor Brian Crook said he had initial talks with organic producers and would support ideas to encourage students and the wider community to buy and eat food from the Colac district.

“It’s a very worthwhile thing to do to see how we can progress organic food in our shire,” he said.

“There’s a lot of it happening and I guess sometimes when really good things are happening at your doorstep they aren’t aware.”

Meanwhile, Colac district farmers will have an opportunity to move towards certified organic status at a Victorian Organic Industry Committee organic certification in Colac.

The government-supported event is on August 23 and 24.

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