Author Archive for toni-saunders

Immigrate to Australia with a Business Visa

Ever wondered about immigrating to Australia and living down under?

The world seems a little testy right now in the midst of a pandemic, recent terrorism in Europe, Brexit and a rollercoaster USA election to name just a few.

Have you considered Australia as a place to invest and live ? You may be eligible to immigrate to Australia with a business and investment visa.

Every year, over 7,000 business & investment visas are granted under Australia’s ‘Business Innovation & Investment’ program. So if you are an entrepreneur, have a successful business background and/or are able to meet investment criteria immigrating to Australia might be for you.

The visas encompass streams for business talent and entrepreneurs as well as innovation and investment. The business and investment visas are designed to encourage entrepreneurs and successful business owners to settle in Australia.

The two business investment visas are open to qualified investors from all around the World, who want to invest and settle in Australia with their family.

To qualify for business & investment visa in general you need to have net assets/ net value of AUD 2.25 million (held for at least 2 years – below 55 years old) or AUD 5 million (anytime with no age limit) and place these funds in a specified investment range which may include commercial real estate.

A successful business & investment visa means you can live anywhere in Australia and obtain residency status for you and your spouse and children.

Australia is a great place to live and to invest. If you are interested please consult an expert in migration and good luck.

Achacha – Beautiful healthy property – Fabulous regional lifestyle

How about a healthy lifestyle on a beautiful property suitable for a group or extended family growing organic Achacha? As an added bonus the farm is conveniently located only 30 minutes drive from the thriving regional centre of Townsville.

A piece of paradise

This farm is genuinely a piece of paradise with 123 hectares of flat land and beautiful views to Mt Elliott. Highly productive it is planted with 16,000 Achacha trees, 3000 African Mahogany windbreak trees, along with mangoes and coconuts. The annual Achacha harvest is now around 300 tonnes and the fruit is growing in popularity every year as more of us encounter this bright, tangy and delicious summer fruit.

 A flock of chickens live in their own solar powered chicken caravan while 20 lucky agistment horses are used for plantation weed control.

Add to that an abundant water supply and certified biodynamic organic farm practises that have the farm healthy, green, lush and highly productive without pesticides or other harmful chemicals.  A creek also runs through the property and Cromarty Wetlands are on one side and the Wongaloo Wetlands a few kms to the north.

Thriving regional centre

The current farm owners Bruce and Helen Hill  used to be Sydney siders but both say they have fallen in love with the regional lifestyle and climate. Only thirty minutes drive away via the Bruce Highway is the thriving dynamic regional centre of Townsville with facilities for all the family. Townsville has an abundance of schools, the world-renowned James Cook university, comprehensive medical and dental services, a world class teaching hospital, multiple industries and a diverse economy.

A thriving arts scene includes galleries, performing arts and cinemas. Sports fans are well catered for with the new state of the art multi-purpose stadium.

Add an airport with direct regular flights to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and Townsville has all that you or your family are likely to need.

Achacha – organic biodynamic

The journey to reach organic biodynamic certification on this Achacha farm at Giru, 45 km south of Townsville has been a thumping success. The owners have achieved significant cost savings as well as transforming the farm into a lush healthy and highly productive organic operation. Now for sale this organic Achacha farm is a fabulous opportunity to work and live healthily and sustainably.

It makes $ sense

Back in 2012 the cost of farm supplies – fertilisers, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides – was around $100k per year. A rough rule of thumb in conventional farming is that this bill would have increased every year, year on year by as much as 50%.  This is because as time goes on more and more of these chemicals must be used each year in order to achieve the same productivity.

In 2020 with organic biodynamic processes fully embedded in farm operations for several years the cost of farm supplies is now around $20k per year – an astonishing reduction at the same time production has increased. Being organic no artificial chemicals are used – no insecticides, no herbicides, no fungicides – meaning organic Achacha fruit do not contain harmful residues.

The journey

The current owners Bruce and Helen Hill started the transition to certified organic biodynamic in 2012. The hard work in transitioning to organic biodynamic has been done and for some years now it is just a relatively low cost simple maintenance regime. The results are clear to see – pick up a handful of dirt and it is dark and richly earthy, brimming with earthworms and full of beneficial microbes again.

A peek inside

The farm’s sustainable practises support farm production using a mix of organic/biodynamic principles including clever integration of horses, chickens and bee hives.  As an organic certified farm natural fertilisers are used instead of synthetic chemical fertilisers. Biodynamic practises also support plant and soil vitality with various natural compounds dispersed across the year via aerial spraying or irrigation drippers.

Animals also play their part – around 20 horses are agisted on farm and regularly rotated around the paddocks for weed control especially vines that would otherwise choke the trees. Unlike cows, horses tread gently around the irrigation systems playing an important complementary role on the farm.

Adding to the mix, a solar powered chicken tractor adds natural fertiliser with the bonus of organic free range eggs.

Finally on farm bee hives assist with pollination and the farm produces over a tonne of honey each year.

Transition Support

Bruce and Helen are both passionate about what has been achieved and the benefits. They are also happy to help new owners learn their proven approaches and bed these into farm practices across a transition period. Enquire now about this unique organic Achacha farm.

Quality in living – Achacha a farm worker story

The first thing we consider in our work is quality in living. One of the major impacts of the Covid19 pandemic has been unemployment and worsening under employment.  Separately there is concern about how crops will be harvested given the reduced numbers of international backpackers and other temporary workers who usually do much of this work. Put all this together as we move towards major harvest seasons and we are likely to see some serious labour challenges. 

The workers and their wages
International students and backpackers usually make up around 11% of our working population. However it seems they are being exploited by some Australian employers. A study of the pre-pandemic work experiences of around 4000 students and backpackers has found significant underpayment with fruit-pickers the lowest paid of all. One in three received around half the minimum wage. Worst of all was one in seven workers on fruit farms who earned around $5 an hour – around a quarter of the legal minimum wage for a casual worker.

So it would seem at least some farms are underpaying their workers. Additionally this sector has a strong reliance on temporary workers – students and backpackers whose numbers are now significantly reduced. In the mix also are credible reports of unemployed Australians struggling to land farm jobs despite being keen to work.

This year, when so many Aussies are looking for work it is going to be interesting to understand more of what has been really going on in our agricultural labour market.

Fabulous Farmers
In contrast there are some bright spots where farms and farmers pay award wages by the hour rather than the hated piece rates. They also employ locals and have a reputation for looking after their workers. This should mean they will have less problems in finding harvest labour in their upcoming picking season.

Part of our philosophy and working with our clients in passing on their properties is quality in living.  One fundamental is that people should be paid a fair wage for fair work.  

One example of farmers doing the right thing and being respected for doing so are Bruce and Helen Hill. As owners of a unique Achacha farm near Townsville their farm is known as a ‘very good farm to work’ according to the manager of the local backpackers hostel. Payments are ‘by the hour and at award rates’ rather than piece rates, as well as having a  ‘body friendly’ harvest. The picking can be done standing up with no back breaking crouch and no climbing ladders. There is also an added bonus of doing the picking inside the tree shaded from the summer heat. Bruce and Helen are also known for ‘looking after their workers’. A fair wage for fair work.

Bruce and Helen are hoping, along with many other farmers, that they manage to find farm labour this season. The Achacha harvest of around 300 tonnes starts in January and runs through to March, after the local mango harvest finishes. The farm usually employs around half locals and the remainder backpackers.

The farm is also popular with grey nomads who usually stay on for 1-2 months and enjoy breaking their journey on a working organic farm, only 30 minutes away from Townsville.

The farm is organic and biodynamic certified producing not only Achacha but also mangoes and very popular Achacha honey. Their farm tours are also growing in popularity with visitors enjoying the experience of a working sustainable farm. This is a farm that embodies quality in living !