Wimmera Regional Landcare Forum
Download ‘Improving Soil Health at a Profit’ (pdf 4274kbs).
Mt William Creek Walk - 2015
At the end of March, an 80 km walk was planned to follow the Mt William Creek from it’s scource behind Moyston, near Kalimna Falls, across the ‘miles’ to the Dadswells Bridge area where the creek joins the Wimmera River. On a Saturday morning Bernie Rudolph was at the Naters property to greet about 30 walkers. After viewing the dry stream bed among the stately tall gnarled red gums the trek began. Along with the farmers dog, walkers from 7 to 70 years were away. Crossing beautiful farming land that is temporarily very dry, we enjoyed the sounds of kookaburrahs, galahs and cockatoos. Climbing through fences we soon entered the creek reserves and observed the benefits of this more recent landcare management. Mobs of kangaroos were aplenty! Though after 10am, foxes were still roaming.
Along the way Jallukar Landcare members Fred and Michael met us, as this was an assisted event. Morning tea stops and some nourishment was welcome from our day packs. Being school holidays it was great to be accompanied by a few families with youngsters who really appeared to enjoy the adventure, especially in the creek bed climbing the old logs and looking for skinks and lizards.
Each evening many walkers set up their tents and enjoyed a tasty meal on a local’s property. Special thanks to the chefs and salad and sweets providers on two evenings. Being a senior walker I only took part each morning but did enjoy meeting the campers in the evening to sit by the creek, share stories, watch Neil’s bird presentation, and sample Blake’s bush tucker. Later, I slipped away quietly to a motel bed! Some walkers joined the group for a day or so that fitted their schedule. Camping at Mokepilly where there is a large permanent waterhole seemed a wonderful spot to soak up the charm of the River Red Gums that are so majestic along our creeks.
Next morning, crossing a deeply cracked, dry wetland, following kilometers of the mostly waterless creek bed, climbing up and down the sandy banks, observing many many piles of logs that had been washed together in flood times and enjoying the little birds that were present around the few waterholes, we hastened along. On this, the third morning of our four day walk, a five year old lad was skipping along with us. A some 12-15 km -or so jaunt! His 3 siblings all embraced the challenge. After midday, emerging rather weary, out of the bushland to the sight of a very, very low Lake Lonsdale was the highlight of my experience. Backed by the Grampians view, the stark skeleton trees and blackened logs in one direction, and a mob of sheep grazing on the lake floor when looking eastward, and still a 2 kilometre walk to Greenhole for the lunch stop!
Many, many thanks to Cathy, Bernie, leaders, organisers, and supporters in the background for your energy and enthusiam. Another pleasure was the new friendships formed between fellow walkers on their Wimmera adventure. This event was only possible because of the wonderful cooperation between local farmers, their families, and the team at Project Platypus, Landcare and the Wimmera CMA.
Article supplied by Margaret Margitta (nee Greenway) who grew up at Wal Wal (1945 – 1962) and always loves to return to the Wimmera.
Chicks in the Sticks trip to Taranaki Farm March 2015
Close to thirty ladies embarked on a Chicks in the Sticks Road trip to Taranaki Farm in Woodend on Friday March 20. It was great to see familiar faces as well as many new faces on the tour. Ben Falloon took over the family farm in 2000, and soon observed that conventional farming practices were no longer working. Ben successfully uses the Polyface farming model, developed by Joel Salatin who has been described by Time magazine as the world’s most innovative farmer.
This involves no longer subscribing to what Ben and Joel describe as the “industrial system” – of mass, mechanised, corporate, factory-style production. Polyface is a grass-based, “beyond organic”, direct-marketing, alternative farming method, free of chemicals.
A mixture of cattle, free range chickens, pigs and broliers are all pasture fed and rotated across the property daily. Ben provided us with a tour of the property, explaining how he regenerates pasture using stock, and shared some of the bureaucratic challenges he regularly faces. We were also given a tour of the farm shop which is nearing completion. It was fantastic to learn from Bens experiences.
To finish the day, we headed to the historic Red Beard Bakery for a delicious lunch and tour of the wood fired oven.
Feedback from the day was really positive, and we look forward to continuing Chicks in the Sticks in the future.
Project Platypus Chicks in the Sticks 2014
Farming women were invited to “Frock up, pull on your gumboots, and join other farming women on a guided tour of Burrum Biodynamics, a local farming enterprise using sustainable farming practices” on Friday 16 May. Women from the Stawell area, and as far as Naracoorte, Warracknabeal, Faraday and Melbourne rose early to complete family and farm tasks before joining some 56 others at the Marnoo farm of Steve and Tania Walters.
Steve led a farm walk showcasing his bio-dynamic farming system which produces organic lentils, peas, barley, spelt, oats and prime lambs. He showed sustainable farming practises in action, his bio-dynamic stirring machine and the prepared 500 he uses. Steve explained how this approach to farming improved the water holding capacity and health of the soil, and answered questions about managing weeds, his buloke regeneration fencings and saltbush plantings.
The tour then moved on to the ‘shed’ where Steve and Tania and their team process and package their premium organic products for direct marketing. Tania shared her experience of selling the beautifully presented products at weekly farmers markets, including the financial and administrative commitments of regulations and licencing. Products were purchased on the day and are also available on the ‘Burrum Biodynamic website’. Tania’s commitment and passion to this sustainable approach was evident when she shared the news that for a second time, their produce is a finalist in Delicious Produce Awards.
Participants then moved on to the Marnoo Hall, and delighted in a high tea style luncheon provided by the Marnoo CWA while enjoying a presentation by guest speaker, Jo Clifford, runner-up of the 2013 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award. Jo shared her experience of the highs and lows of as a first generation farmer. The recognition and acknowledgement of the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award has enabled her to spend time with inspiring and passionate rural women, and to commit more resources to realising her vision for Australian agriculture – a culture of celebrating and sharing the gifts of the earth – food, land and prosperity – through the creation of open-gate farming communities working, learning growing, eating and celebrating food together. Jo also talked about the role women play in agriculture as leaders and drivers of social change.
Ladies travelled home viewing Project Platypus revegetation sites, inspired and motivated, and looking forward to the opportunity to learn more when the Chicks hit the Sticks in 2015.
FARM SUCCESSION PLANNING SEMINAR
Forty people attended a farm succession planning seminar held at the Comfort Inn in Stawell last month. The event was part of the annual Farming in the 21st Century series and was supported by the Northern Grampians Shire Council, Project Platypus Upper Wimmera Landcare and the Australian Government. The session featured guest speaker, Alan Blackburn who has a range of experience in the field of succession planning. Project Platypus selected this topic because establishing a clear succession plan assists in long term planning decision making and helps provide clarity and certainty to all family members. During the session participants learnt about retirement planning, what their capital and income needs might be and some of the essential accounting and financial aspects of succession planning. We’ve had some really positive feedback from the night.
Stawell Urban Landcare Group – Nesting box project
The Stawell Urban Landcare group have successfully completed a nesting box project through funding from the Mazda Foundation. The aim of this project is to create habitat in the Box/Iron Bark forests around Stawell for threatened and endangered species. Box Iron Bark forests in Victoria contain over 20 species which are listed as threatened under Victorian and Australian legislation.
The project involved the construction and installation of nesting boxes and is designed to complement the Iron Barks walk conducted by the Stawell Urban Landcare group with primary school students from Stawell West and 502. The project involves several community groups. The year 8 Technology class at the Stawell Secondary College constructed the nesting boxes and the Stawell Urban Landcare Group has installed the boxes, and they will be monitored for occupancy rates.
The boxes will be monitored to make sure that intended species adopt them as their new home. Often unwelcome guests can occupy the nesting boxes like bees and swallows. Stawell Urban Landcare group would like to create a social awareness of the need for habitat and its relevance to biodiversity.
Stawell Urban Landcare group would like to invite anyone who is interested in getting involved with the Nesting Box project. Contact Project Platypus on 03 5358 4410. We also welcome anyone who is interested in attending our monthly meetings, held on the second Tuesday of each month from 7.30pm at the Project Platypus Office located on the Western Highway, Stawell. All welcome.
Staff & Management Committee Study Tour
DAY ONE: Birchip Cropping Group (BCG)
Eleven staff and Management Committee members arrived at the office of Birchip Cropping Group for a short tour of the facilities and a presentation about the BCG by the CEO David Chamberlain, we then took a tour of the ‘native trees under polymers’ site, where some of us got down very close to inspect the plants underneath. We then returned to BCG office for lunch and to trial the award winning Birchip Bakery vanilla slice, which we all agreed was delicious and deserved its awards!
The group then visited the main trial site with 20 or 30 different projects, various agronomics topics with a trials team member. After a very informative day, we continued down the freeway to Ouyen to our accommodation at the Victoria hotel, a nice country hotel in the heart of the Mallee. After a great meal and some discussions about the day’s events, we retired to our beds with electric blankets on high. What more could you ask for.
Staff & Management Committee Study Tour
DAY TWO: Thurla Farm, Redcliffs
On day two of our tour we met with Col Beasley of THURLA FARM – A Farm situated in north west region of Victoria, just outside of Red Cliffs. Thurla Farms is a highly diverse Farm owned by the Beasley Family. Thurla Farms produces wine grapes, almonds, Murray cod, avocados, hay, cereal grains and sheep.
Col designed and patented a system of growing Murray cod from eggs to adults in a self-sustaining cycle, something which has proved hard for more well-known aqua cultural species like tuna and oysters. The business uses irrigation water to grow the Murray cod then water crops including almonds, avocadoes, grapes, oats and Lucerne.
Three dams on his Thurla property, west of Red Cliffs, are used for brood stock chosen in a selective breeding program.
Eggs are then taken to tanks in a large shed where they are hatched and grow up to 100 grams before being released into cages in two larger dams. Water filled with fish faeces from the tanks and dams is used to water and fertilise the farm’s crops. The cod are fed Tasmanian pellets, originally made for barramundi and sold when they reach about 1kg.
Mr Beasley also invented a solar feeder, which uses the power of the sun to run a machine that releases pellets at the rate fish need them. The fish, which can’t be caught in the wild commercially, are sold to restaurants, and Mr Beasley said it was hard to keep up with demand.
“We have Asian restaurants coming up with refrigerated trucks at the pond.”…Colin Beasley
Green Eggs Tour
Alan and Shelley Green’s Great Western property was on show in late May and was the final event in the Farming in the 21st Century Series.
Alan led participants on a tour of the property after a bacon and egg breakfast. While the property is well known for producing award winning free range eggs, it’s the sheep production and landcare work that took centre stage.
The tour included examples of erosion control using methods such as fencing and revegetation, as well as earthmoving and erosion control structures. Retaining ground cover using perennial pastures were also highlighted as an effective means of preventing erosion and protecting topsoil.
Chicks in the Sticks
Farming ladies from the upper Wimmera descended on Elmhurst property “Millbanks” for the first Chicks in the Sticks in the region on October 31 2012. Close to thirty Chicks took part in the women only event, designed to give local ladies the opportunity to network, socialise and gather information on sustainable farming practices.
NSW farmer Col Seis developed the concept of Pasture cropping over a few beers with a mate back in the 1990’s, and has since been refining and sharing the practice with farmers worldwide. Mr Sies delivered a pasture cropping workshop on March 7 at Dadswells Bridge with Project Platypus.
Pasture Cropping is a technique of sowing cereal crops directly into native perennial pastures. It combines grazing and cropping into a single land use, where each one benefits the other economically and environmentally.
Open Kitchen Garden Weekend
Stawell residents were joined by kitchen garden enthusiasts from far and wide to see innovative and productive kitchen gardens in Stawell and Great Western. The Open Kitchen Garden Weekend included three open gardens as well as a series of workshops. Due the success of the event, Project Platypus and Stawell Urban Landcare hope to run a similar event towards the end of the year.
stawell urban landcare group - current events
CLEAN UP AUSTRALIA
Stawell Urban Landcare Group have registered the Rifle Range Reserve.
Date: Sunday March 1st. Anytime between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm.
Meeting Place: Corner of London Rd & Cosson Place, north side of railway line.
Coordinator: John Pye
Phone: 0432 867 387 and
Download Flyer (pdf, 100kbs).
STAWELL IRONBARKS NATURE WALK
Stawell Urban Landcare Group member, Julie Andrew coordinated the annual Ironbarks Nature Walk conducted with students from Stawell Primary School, Stawell West Primary School and St Patricks Primary School which continues to be very popular with Grade three students. The students experienced the wonders of Spring in our local box Ironbark Forest on a guided tour in the Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve.
With the beautiful conditions for walking along the 2km walk they were able to observe various flowers such as native orchids and trees that grow in their local environment. The students learn about the trees and flowers, they also learn to look for signs of human impact and so learn about history and conservation management. They also learn about what animals may live within the Ironbarks and how human activity can have a negative impact on the environment. The walks are organised and guided by Stawell Urban Landcare Group members and volunteers. The goal of the walks is to engender a stewardship ethic in our local children by understanding and enjoying the many delights of the forests at our backdoor.
Stawell Urban Landcare Group would love to encourage anyone who would is keen to be a guide to come along to the intro next year and see what it is our Landcare Group does! For more information please contact Cathy McDermott on 5358 4410.This year three guides new who had never done this type of thing before participated so a big thankyou to Dorothy Henty, Daryl.
Saturday 22nd November, 2014
*VISIT FIVE PRODUCING GARDENS IN STAWELL*
Time: Anytime between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm.
Click here for maps and more information (pdf, 1100kbs).
Baking sourdough bread – 10.30 am to 12.30 pm
Keeping chooks – 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm
Burrum Biodynamics cooking class – 2.30 pm to 4.00 pm
Click here for maps and more information (pdf, 617kbs).
Bookings for workshops required as places are limited. Contact Project Platypus on 5358 4410