The average Australian farmer is 57 and getting older.
One of the reasons for this is the huge cost of land and capital, which can seem like an insurmountable barrier or a young farmer trying to get a break.
For 18-year-old Oliver Bora, the answer was to think creatively.
Late last year, he launched a crowdfunding campaign to get his get his pasture-raised egg farm off the ground, having already negotiated with his school, Shearwater Steiner School at Mullumbimby, to allow him to use school land for his farming operation.
With the help of a strong marketing campaign, he raised $15,000, along with a generous donation of a chicken caravan from INXS manager, Chris Murphy.
After many months of hard work, Oliver’s Hen’s is now fully operational, and Oliver’s free range pastured eggs available to the public each week from Oliver’s new stall at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market.
Oliver keeps his 450 hens healthy and happy by allowing them to live a truly free-range life (unlike many conventional free-range systems, where hens can live their whole life in a shed). They roam on 15 acres of pasture on the school grounds, rotated every two weeks, giving them access the fresh grass and insects that make up their natural diet. Oliver says this increases the Omega 3 in the eggs making them tastier and better for you. Regularly moving the hens also allows the grass to regrow and the soil to regenerate.
The hens also have access to high quality organic grain which Oliver says helps reduce the farm’s carbon footprint.
“I really wanted to create a sustainable and ethical model,” he said.
Along the way, Oliver has received plenty of support from the community, including from retired egg farmer, Wally Waldron – a long time stallholder at Mullumbimby Farmers Market – who offered mentorship to Oliver as he set up his farming operation.
Mullumbimby Farmer Market manager Allie Godfrey said the market was committed to encouraging young farmers, including through its annual Grow Your Own Lunchbox event – in which local schools are invited to showcase their kitchen gardens and are awarded prizes for their skills and enterprise – which has seen almost $10,000 donated to local schools to support their garden programs.
She said it was fantastic to be able to welcome Oliver to the market.
“Problem solving is a major part of farming and Oliver is someone who has demonstrated great initiative, problem solving skills and determination,” she said.