How to raise a cow in an apartment

Derek and Jess live in an inner-city apartment. At 145 square metres, it’s slightly bigger than the Australian average of 137 square metres. But not a whole lot bigger.

They don’t have kids. They do have a cat named Molly. So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

However, it might surprise you to learn that right now they also have a heifer, a row of shiraz grapevines, 3 beehives and dozens of baby oysters. So how exactly does that work?

Whilst Derek and Jess love their city lifestyle, they felt that they were missing something. Even though they shopped at the weekly farmer’s market, they still felt disconnected from the farmers who grew the produce they consumed as passionate foodies.

So what changed?

It was the early days of Invest Inya Farmer. Jess was introduced to IIF by a colleague who showed Jess the IIF app on her phone.

Jess was intrigued by the concept: the ability to invest directly in produce growing on farms and in rivers, and do it all on an app.

The concept of owning a virtual farm, of having it in your pocket immediately appealed.

Whilst IIF is essentially an investment tool, this was different from any other investments she and Derek had made. For the first time, they could watch their investments grow, with regular updates from each farmer.

She liked that each farmer continued to nurture their produce to maturity. After all, that’s what they do best.

She saw the opportunity to learn about the growth cycle of foods that she’d taken for granted.

She and Derek love oysters. They’d seen many oyster farms on coastal road trips. But they knew nothing about how oysters start their lives, how they grow, what they live on – basically everything that happens before an oyster appears on a fish market shelf.

When Jess and Derek joined the Invest in Farming Co-operative, the first investment they made was 20,000 baby oysters (which they learnt are called spats). These spats were grown at an oyster nursery on the New South Wales south coast.

When they reached the right size, they were sold to other oyster farmers to grow to a size ready for Christmas and the summer holidays. Jess and Derek shared the profit from that sale with Robert, the grower.

Their second investment was in young Sydney rock oysters. These were grown on another farm. It only took 5 months from the time Jess and Derek invested to the oysters being ready to go to market. They both loved the idea of getting a return on their investment in a few months.

They were ready for more. They saw an opportunity to invest in a heifer in Victoria. Then some beehives up in Queensland. And their most recent investment has been in shiraz grapes in North East Victoria.

What the Invest in Farming Co-operative and the IIF app do is allow anybody to support farmers directly by investing in a farmer’s current crop. The IIF members, like Derek and Jess, get to meet the farmers producing our food. They get to learn about how that food is produced. And they get to share in the outcomes of the sale of that produce.

The farmers get money up front to use as they want – to hire pickers, buy fertiliser, or simply smooth out their cash flow. They get to know their consumers in ways they never would otherwise.

Derek and Jess show that anyone anywhere can become a virtual farmer. If you like the idea of putting a farm in your pocket, click here to learn more about how IIF works – and apply to become an IIF Coop member.

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