For small scale agriculture projects, irrigation water is becoming a rarity in the Mildura region due to water prices increasing up to five times from their regular price.
The Food Next Door Co-op recognised this issue and wanted to increase the security and resilience of local food sources during the periods of low water supply. Therefore, they came up with a solution for small scale farmers to access affordable irrigation water – The Mildura Community Water Bank project.
Community Water Bank Project Officer Jules Kanegta said local farmers producing fresh food for the Mildura community will be eligible to apply for water from the Community Water Bank.
“Donations of irrigation water from water holders will go towards the bank as well as money donations to buy irrigation water for our local farmers.” Mr Kangeta said.
“Our first donation of 0.6ML has so far helped our farmers grow peanuts and peas for the autumn/winter season.
“The Bank has not opened for public donations yet but will go on to serve our local farming community year-round and when we need it most.”
Food Next Door Executive Officer Deborah said they were working on a launch strategy when the coronavirus started, and it delayed the project’s start date.
“However, there has been one unexpected benefit with social distancing restrictions. Many of our migrant farmers can easily join Zoom meetings where they previously relied on infrequent public transport to get to face-to-face meetings,” Ms Bogenhuber said.
The bank is expected to open later in the year when restrictions have eased.
For the Mildura Community Water Bank project to go ahead, the Food Next Door Co-op received a $69,000 from the Victorian Government’s Community Climate Change Adaptation (3CA) Grants. This grant was one of five awarded in the Loddon Mallee region in September 2019.
More information about the Mildura Community Water Bank will be available at www.mcwb.org.au ,which will be live soon.