‘Agrifood’ hub aims to provide jobs, boost economy
A 105-hectare property on the outskirts of Canberra is set to become home to a self-sustaining Murray cod fishery and an organic cider mill, among other agrifood businesses, as part of an innovative “agrihub”.
Freshford Foods will aim to provide an expansive offering for farmers, artisan food and beverage producers, agriculture investors and community groups to drive environmental social sustainability in Canberra’s south.
Managing director Hamish Sinclair predicts the $100 million investment could create over 120 jobs and inject $397 million into the local economy.
“Within the next 25 years, we think we will have provided a brand new sector of the ACT’s economy,” Mr Sinclair said.
What was a pipedream two weeks ago has been thrust into development following meetings with member for Bean David Smith, Regional Development Australia and the Australian National University’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Agritechnology.
The hub will be divided into two sectors.
The first, a 45-hectare artisan sector, will host up to 15 agribusinesses, including a cider tree orchard.
The second, a 65-hectare agritech sector, will be home to an extensive aquaculture venture in partnership with Uarah Fisheries.
The aquaculture project, headed by Dr John Yu, will farm Murray cod using recirculating aquaculture system technology to grow fish to market size, in an attempt to increase Murray cod numbers in Australia.
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment voiced their support of the project.
“Innovation hubs play a key role in the agricultural innovation system, by providing a physical location where researchers can innovate with producers and businesses along the supply chain to co-design and test solutions,” the spokesperson said.
“Hubs foster entrepreneurship and help link agritech developers with investors to improve commercialisation of research outcomes and uptake of the innovation solutions.”