Community stories: 22 January 2020
Grow Lightly Connect (GLC) was established in response to the lack of locally grown produce available to local consumers and, conversely, the lack of local outlets available to local growers.
The group has developed a strong presence in the local community since it set up in 2015, establishing a food hub and developing a network of local consumers and producers who share their vision of southern Gippsland being enabled to feed itself. But it was time to grow.
The GLC Growing Together project was focused on further increasing access to locally grown food, improving health outcomes in the community and contributing to a more robust local economy. With their $5,000 grant, they were able to fund a consultant to undertake market research on the feasibility and requirements of this expansion, and the development of a business plan.
Extensive community consultation across Southern Gippsland highlighted places where there was interest in local produce but no ready access. GLC developed a bulk sales program for enterprises wanting to use local produce, which now regularly supplies 13 customers. Six are located on Phillip Island, which has traditionally had limited access to fresh, locally-grown food.
The bespoke online ordering system that was developed for the bulk sales program now also handles the weekly orders for the vegie bags, which go out to around 35 families every week. These are packed and despatched from the new Grow Lightly Green Grocer shop in the main street of Korumburra, which is open six days a week.
GLC’s Chairman Gil Freeman says there’s still room for further growth, but the issue is finding the time to build the business.
“There are now more than 100 small growers contributing to the social enterprise, in addition to the 15 larger-scale growers. The more extensive network of local outlets is also providing local growers with greater economic security.”