Drought relief: Farmers offered free spring drinking water by berry farm

SHARING: Ryan Lang, Tony Belmonte and Gianni Belmonte at the Huntley Berry Farm where they are offering free spring water to farmers. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN
SHARING: Ryan Lang, Tony Belmonte and Gianni Belmonte at the Huntley Berry Farm where they are offering free spring water to farmers. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN

Drought-hit farmers have been offered free spring drinking water from the Huntley Berry Farm.

Marketing officer Gianni Belmonte said the not-for-profit farm had received aid from other organisations before and now wanted to give something back by providing free water.

“It’s a huge thank-you. It’s one less expense, a bottle of water is almost like a bale of hay,” he said.

“We want to give back, it’s looking after everyone.”

Farmers just need to bring in food grade drinking bottles for refilling from 10am-2pm Monday to Friday.

He said they had already filled about 50 large bottles.

Mr Belmonte also revealed the farm’s 60,000 strawberry plants were under attack from the severe frosts Orange has experienced this winter.

“The Central West has got hit with minus seven and minus eight degree frosts,” he said.

“We have yet to determine how many the frost  has killed until spring as they begin to grow, I hope.

“We’ve never seen minus eight degrees frosts out here.”

Mr Belmonte said the frosts hit the shallow root systems of the fruit.

He said he hoped Monday’s rain would provide enough valuable nitrogen for the plants.

DROUGHT INFORMATION NIGHT

An information night will be run in Orange to provide farmers with information about eligibility and access to drought relief.

NSW Farmers Orange branch chair Bruce Reynolds said all local farmers were invited to the meeting at the CWA Hall in Robertson Park from 7pm on Tuesday August 14.

Mr Reynolds said representatives from the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, the Rural Assistance Authority and NSW Farmers would be present to explain the federal and state government aid available.

“A lot of producers are self-assessing and saying ‘I don’t meet the criteria,” he said.

However, Mr Reynolds said they should be properly assessed as the criteria for government aid had been increased to include people with $5 million of assets. The level was previously $2.6 million.

He said they could also help farmers with the paperwork when applying for aid.

Mr Reynolds said orchardists were hoping for more rain before flowers and leaves appeared on the trees in September.

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