A turf-breaking ceremony in the true sense of the word took place this week, with the formation of a new Turfgrower co-operative group taking place at Pitt Town, NSW.
The Greenspace Turf Cooperative has been working towards establishment and last Wednesday night held its formation meeting with nine foundation Turfgrower-members signing up to the group.
“With only five members required to kick us off, it was encouraging to see nearly double that join up at our first get-together,” said Greenspace’s spokesperson Paul Mahoney following the meeting.
Mahoney, who heads up Evergreen Turf Australia’s operations as their CEO nationally, was also elected Chairman at the meeting with other board members; Paul Saad of Southern Cross Turf, Jason Muscat of Hi Quality Turf, Alex White of Dubbo Turf Supplies and Wayne Davey of Evergreen Turf NSW filling the other executive roles.
This is the first formal co-op structure to be applied in the turf industry in Australia.
“Apart from the co-op providing better buying-power for members across their entire supply chain, there’s the group-marketing aspects and the ability to pool resources that will ultimately benefit not just our growers, but more importantly our target customers,” he explains.
“We’ve had some of the biggest Turfgrower operations coming together here – especially in the commercial market – and it’s going to be great to get everyone working together to provide a new level of service for our clientele.
“Some of our foundation members are at the cutting-edge of the industry in turf-innovations, turf-equipment and new Turfgrass R&D; it’s great to see their willingness to share their knowledge and experience with other members.
Mahoney also says that if you look at many of the major Golf Courses, Racecourses, Sporting Stadiums and other major green-space-project work around the country the foundation growers have had a hand in much of that work.
“We’re looking to work with a range of growers of different sizes from around the country and enable a unique network of resources to assist not just large operations, but also smaller growers – and all-the-while promoting the ‘grower-owned’ nature of the Co-Op, he says.
The new co-op group made special mention at the meeting of the help and assistance they have received from Co-ops NSW and the Federal Government’s Farming Together Program.
“With the work of Sam Byrne and Richard O’Leary from Co-ops NSW and Farming Together we’ve been able to fast-track some of our setup-activities and ensure we’ve got a solid foundation for the group from the outset,” he said.
Like much of the agriculture industry, there is mounting pressure for the turf industry from multiple sources. Water-security, Environmental concerns, Health and Safety, Transport and Biosecurity compliances are among the increasing threats to normal operations to contend with.
The Co-Op aims to assist members in addressing these issues in a consistent and compliant manner. In addition, Mahoney says they are already working on the buying group capabilities for members, as well as some new turf varieties, and other new technologies to support its growers.
There’s certainly strength in numbers and with the Greenspace Turf Co-op being grower-run-and-owned, all gains are shared among members.
The Greenspace Turf Co-op will achieve its formal registration over coming days and looks to boost its member-numbers initially along the East Coast.