Harvest Trails and Markets, otherwise known as Hawkesbury Harvest, is campaigning to bring agricultural businesses together in the Hawkesbury, to help boost agritourism in the region.
Are you a primary producer in the Hawkesbury - or interested in the industry - and would like to meet like-minded people forming a collective voice for change?
Chair of Hawkesbury Harvest, Angela Maguire, said Harvest - which has been around for 20 years - was a business collective designed for people who were passionate about agriculture and sustainability.
Some members are looking to establish tourism or other small businesses, and Harvest aims to help them find avenues to succeed.
"There are amazing opportunities for agritourism right now," Ms Maguire said.
"Post-COVID, people are looking to do things outside, and enjoy the fresh air, and it has really demonstrated just how keen people in Sydney are to experience agricultural activities on their doorstep - [Hawkesbury] is only an hour from home or less."
Opportunities might include fruit picking, interacting with farm animals, providing accommodation in the form of farm stays, setting-up food manufacturing or distilling activities.
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"The success of agritourism in the Hawkesbury is very much a collective effort. The more variety we offer tourists, the easier we are to access and tell people about what we do as individual groups, makes Hawkesbury far more of a desired destination for people," Ms Maguire said.
"The opportunity there is not to just have them come as daytrippers but to have them stay one or two nights with their families and that contributes to the economy, local employment, and to the maintenance of farming and agricultural lands."
Ms Maguire said one of the biggest challenges for agricultural businesses in the Hawkesbury - apart from the pressing issues of floods and other natural disasters - was working on small landholdings.
"We sit in peri-urban Sydney and have much smaller landholdings because of the price of property in this area and its proximity to Sydney, so the challenge is to retain existing farms, and support business and agribusiness to have business models that are profitable," she said.
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Ms Maguire's family converted their packing shed on their Grose Vale property, Enniskillen Orchard, to a shed and retail outlet, and are in the process of converting it to a cafe and wine bar.
They have provisional council approval for a liquor licence and hope to reopen by March next year, providing a family-friendly place for locals to "pop in, have a drink, meet with friends, be social and sample local produce," as well as a place for tourists to "come and sit on the verandah and enjoy a beautiful Grose Vale sunset."
A group from the Hawkesbury Remakery also use the space at Enniskillen Orchard for crafting.
Harvest Trails and Markets has opened its membership for the financial year and is encouraging businesses, not-for-profits, volunteer groups, and individuals with an interest in agriculture, tourism or the Hawkesbury to join.
Hardship policies are available, as well as month-to-month payments. Find out more at www.harvesttrailsandmarkets.com.au