KANGAROO Island farmers Steve and Lucy Morgan have realised their dream of getting an oat crop from their farm into a bag labelled 'KI Oats'.
Their rolled and instant oat product was launched at Emu Bay Lavender late last month and is now in shops and on supermarket shelves across KI and the mainland.
The catalyst to value add the crop was a new oat variety developed by the SARDI with specific health benefits.
"We've had various crops over the years, but have always loved the oats," Mr Morgan said.
"We've been wanting to value add and then a new variety called Kowari was released by SARDI and we were keen to use it."
A dwarf plant type, Kowari has been developed by SARDI since 2003 as part of the National Oat Breeding Program.
It has been developed with increased levels of beta glucan to help reduce blood cholesterol re-absorption.
It also has high yielding potential and disease resistance, making it attractive to growers.
Mrs Morgan said they saw value in the KI brand, but they also wanted to do something to boost agriculture on the island.
We have been overwhelmed by the response from KI, which has been fantastic.
The Morgans sowed about 30 hectares of Kowari oats this year and have fellow KI farmers Will and Jenny Stanton also growing the variety.
This year's crop at the Morgan's Vivonne Bay farm is looking magnificent.
Mr Morgan, who grew up on KI before leaving to become a commercial ship captain for 15 years, said it had been one of the best starts to the season he had seen.
They are hoping for another bumper harvest come November.
Once harvested, the oats are stored in sealed silos at the Morgan farm before being shipped to Blue Lake Milling at Bordertown, where the facility is cleaned out before each KI Oats run to ensure provenance.
The Morgans could not be happier with the public support they have received.
"We have been overwhelmed by the response from KI, which has been fantastic," Mrs Morgan said.
"People are really keen to support it."
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Agriculture KI chairman Rick Morris said oats had been grown on KI since agriculture began, but for sheep feed and hay, and not human consumption.
"Oats do well on KI and are quite tolerant of water logging, which can be a problem across the Island," he said.
"Growing and packaging oats is certainly a new thing and its fantastic to see someone go for it, getting vertical integration from paddock to bag is an amazing effort."
He praised the Morgans to sticking with their dream and overcoming all the hurdles and red tape.
Regarding the current cropping and livestock season, Mr Morris agreed it was one the best starts he could recall. It has been the wettest May on his family's property for 43 years.
"It's kicked off a lot of feed and it's very important to have good feed in front of lambing ewes," he said.
"We still need some run-off to fill the dams, but we couldn't be happier."
- This story first appeared on The Islander.