Country Noosa's Rural Enterprise Plan Project

Country Noosa’s Rural Enterprise Plan Project is a project collaboration between Country Noosa, The University of the Sunshine Coast, Noosa & District Landcare, and funded by the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation.

The Project supports our mission to promote a sustainable rural future towards building a positive future for the Noosa Hinterland and surrounds.

Country Noosa has completed the Rural Enterprise Program (REP) with our partners from the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), and Noosa and District Landcare. The program was funded through the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation to foster a range of environmentally and economically sustainable farming and other rural enterprise opportunities that will complement a positive Noosa Hinterland environment.

The project addresses a Hinterland “data gap” by utilising a range of methods to better understand current land use, capacity, and landholder interests. The program explored innovative scenarios that enable both environmental protection and economic prosperity, whilst enabling landowners to develop and implement effective property and business plans.

Program activities

A land-use survey and mapping project was undertaken by USC in April – August 2018. This was designed to understand and analyse current and future land use in the Noosa Hinterland area and identify gaps for future economic opportunities. USC also conducted a consumer behaviour study to identify prevalence of and motivators for local food use and consumption.

Four initial workshops were held in in Cooroy, Kin Kin, Tewantin and Pomona in May 2018, which gathered input from a total of 33 participants. A number of topics of interest were established to begin further research, and guide structured discussion for the second round of workshops.

In October and November 2018, the second round of workshops were completed, with three events gathering a total attendance of 89 community members, land and business owners and other interested parties. These workshops covered topics identified as important areas of interest or opportunities from the initial round of workshops.

The first two workshops were held at the Cooroy Memorial Hall on 15 and 22 November. These covered sustainable agriculture, with topic areas of “new products and markets”, and “collaboration and resource sharing” respectively. The third workshop was held at the Kin Kin School of Arts Hall and featured a panel discussion on ecotourism, with representatives from Tourism Noosa, Country Noosa, USC and a local business owner.

Recommendations

In addition to the concept papers, the project has culminated in a series of recommendations, highlighting areas of opportunity to support future enterprise in the Noosa region. These include encouraging collaboration in both the sharing of resources and growing networks of local businesses. One suggestion is that a register be developed for local enterprises interested in the resource-sharing of land, labour, equipment, carbon farming and more.

It is also recommended that a pilot organic waste study be conducted to explore the potential of utilising nutrient-rich waste in agricultural ventures, in addition to reducing emissions. Other recommendations include assessing the potential for a ‘Noosa hinterland’ branding to be introduced, and the development of a produce distribution network for small-scale growers to collaborate for efficiency.

The report also recommends areas for further learning and training to be provided for small-crop farming, permaculture, pest and weed control, marketing and distribution and business mentoring and planning. The report also suggests these opportunities for learning could be provided through the likes of knowledge-sharing workshops, coordinated agricultural site visits, information sessions, linking with local business planning resources, and potentially an e-learning hub as a central online source for events, information, contacts, resources and funding opportunities for rural enterprise in the region.

Links to download the full or part of the Rural Enterprise Plan (REP) will be available on this site shortly.