Brian Crust and his son Matthew amongst a crop at their Mount Sylvia Farm.
Brian Crust and his son Matthew amongst a crop at their Mount Sylvia Farm. Contributed

Supermarket giant helps farmers drought-proof operations

COMBATING drought conditions has been made one step easier for Brian Crust with Coles supermarkets stepping forward to assist with a water-saving initiative.

The Mount Sylvia vegetable grower is just one of five farmers across Queensland who have shared almost $1.4 million from the supermarket giant's Nurture Fund.

After spending months on the submission, Mr Crust thought they had missed the opportunity.

"It was a pleasant surprise," he said.

"We have also contributed to the project - you had to show you can contribute to the project as well to secure the funding."

Construction upgrades are under-way on Mr Crust's dam, expanding its holding capacity by 20 per cent and lining it with plastic to stop soil seepage.

He will also install a state-of-the-art irrigation system for water and power efficiency at Crust Farms and expects it to hold about 30 megalitres.

Mr Crust farms with his wife Julia and son Matthew supply a variety of vegetables to Coles, including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

 

Brian, Julia and Matthew Crust from Crust Farms at Mount Sylvia, in front of an on-farm dam, which will be upgraded for better water storage during drought conditions.
Brian, Julia and Matthew Crust from Crust Farms at Mount Sylvia, in front of an on-farm dam, which will be upgraded for better water storage during drought conditions. Contributed

"It's life-changing when they back you on an important project for our operation," Mr Crust said.

"We certainly support Coles and it is really nice they have supported us."

The drought that has plagued much of Queensland has forced the Crusts to cut back their 100-hectare operation to one third this year.

Mr Crust said unfortunately the dam was too late for this season, but it was a positive for the future.

"This dam won't be enough water to drought-proof the farm for a whole

year, but it gives us the flexibility to store water without losses," he said.

Helping the Crust family is just a portion of Coles' project, which has also assisted 16 farmers and food producers across Australia with a share of $5 m to protect their businesses against drought in the long-term.

Coles chief operating officer Greg Davis said the commitment to drought-related projects brought the total amount provided by the Nurture Fund to nearly $20m since 2015.

"We know the drought has been devastating for so many farmers across Australia and we've tried to help where we can in the short-term relief," Mr Davis said.

"We want to enable farmers to embark on projects, which help them in the long-term so they can drought-proof their businesses for the future."



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