William Buckland was a highly successful pastoralist who had a great love of the land and agriculture. His suggestion that his Trustees, in administering funds from the Foundation, “give preference to agriculture and related pursuits” has been instrumental in developing the Advancing Agriculture Program for the Foundation.
The William Buckland Foundation, through its Advancing Agriculture Program, supports initiatives which focus on strengthening the resilience and capacity of regional and rural communities. This includes the support of innovative approaches to farming that increase yield and/or reduce damaging environmental impacts as well ensuring that rural leaders are equipped to inclusively address the challenges and embrace the opportunities that arise through change.
Nuffield Australia 2019 Scholarship winner
Natasha Shields from Baxter, Victoria, receives a Nuffield Scholarship supported by the William Buckland Foundation. She will investigate alternative packaging options and shelf-life outcomes for fresh produce in the current drive to minimise the use of plastics in Australia’s retail environment.
Natasha and her husband own a Certified Organic Vegetable growing business that spans 190 acres across three properties in Victoria and New South Wales. The business employs 25 full time staff and sells a wide range of organic produce to retailers and wholesalers, as well as key overseas markets.
She believes that the community – particularly her organic customers – are increasingly concerned about current packaging options, and are demanding material that’s biodegradable or has a minimised its impact on the environment, while at the same time extends the shelf life of the produce.
“The fact is that good looking vegetables on a shelf sell, whereas tired and dehydrated or wilting produce is either marked down or thrown out, which results in fewer sales for the retailer and fewer orders for growers like us.
“Despite plastic extending the shelf life of organic produce, our broad customer base is telling us they want another solution. Through my research, I hope to uncover new materials being utilised by companies and producers around the world, and bring those learnings back home.”
On her Nuffield Scholarship, Natasha will travel to countries in Western Europe and the United States to explore their advanced organic retail markets, and to key export markets such as China, Singapore and Dubai.