Mirror Mirror Do you like what you see?

Last Saturday was no ordinary day in the life of this dairy farmer and the Bundanon Siteworks event FUTURE FOOD FEAST A DAY OF TALKING, EATING & DOING still has my head spinning.

Gretel Killeen was a last minute replacement for Jenny Brockie as the panel facilitator which required a green room huddle to allow her to get up to speed on who the panel was and what motivated us. What was great about this was it meant the panellists also got insights into each other. It soon became obvious the afternoon would open my mind to many new ideas and concepts that I was positive would be equally exciting to the audience.  

Gretel Killeen 

Gretel Killeen filled in as facilitator after Jenny Brockie broke her arm

Mike McCallum

I was lucky enough to share a lunch table with fellow panellist and future architect Mike McCallum who as it turns out also has an extensive background in the dairy industry

Lynne Strong and the Panel

The Panel: LtoR Gretel Killeen, Lynne Strong, Jared Ingersoll, Mike McCallum, Jodie Newcombe, John Crawford and Ingrid Just.

I was there to share my story and listen and learn and did just that. The conversation went for more than 2 hours and to do it justice I am asking each of the panellists to write a guest blog. You will be excited to know Chef Jared Ingersoll and Mike McCallum have already been asked and agreed.  

To start of off just a few thoughts from me.

  • I know there are a million things I can do to reduce my footprint and I am always saddened that people see our present and future challenges as wicked problems – i.e. too big for them as individuals to make a difference. As Jarod said “ broad scale change starts when one person does something”. By the way here are some things you can do http://www2.acfonline.org.au/
  • I am amazed that people think there is always a way to make the planet fit the the lifestyle we have created for ourselves and refuse to believe that what we think is good for us is too often not good for the planet. For example the suggestion that we protect prime agriculture land and reduce our footprint by more people living in one house or our buildings should go up rather than out and we share white goods and cars was met with shock horror by one audience participant and he was very upfront about it. 
  • I cant believe how many people must think farming is easy. There was a suggestion from the audience that the answer to prime agriculture land being gobbled up by housing was for the government to pay the people in the houses incentives to grow food on their land. Isn’t that subsidised farming and just when will these people find the time and where will they get the skills sets?  There was the idea that instead of supporting rural and regional and remote Australia everyone moves to the cities and urban agriculture will grow all our food. We then let rural, regional and remote Australia go back to the “way it was” and it be a community space. Wouldn’t the  government love that one. With farmers now looking after 61% of the Australian landscape imagine what a huge impost looking after all that land would be on taxpayers let alone the infrastructure et al required to grow all our food in and around millions of people.
  • I am always saddened by some people’s perceptions of modern farming practices and that their knowledge comes from things they had heard or read about rather than seen. There was mention of factory farmed cows being fed cement dust and the answer to everything was to farm organic. As Professor Crawford reminded people there was no evidence to show that organic per se led to better environmental or animal welfare outcomes. Poor old cows got a bit of bashing as usual. People forget or are unaware that only 2% of Australia is suitable for growing crops and what a great job cows in Australia do maintaining the thousands and thousand of hectares of rangelands in this country and no-one in Australia is chopping down rainforest to graze cows
  • I was pleased to see people do value farmers and believe we should value food at its true price and panellist Ingrid Just from Choice talked about the “heart and the hip” scenario and I look forward to her sharing that with you.
  • I was pleased to overhear that I was not the “usual angry farmer”. Its disappointing our farmers are often perceived this way. It was very obvious the community would love to work with us to achieve a value chain that really values people from paddock to plate.   
  • I was also found I had a lot to learn for the diverse knowledge of the other panellists and I am very pleased to be able to off them space to share that with you in the coming weeks

Back to “Mirror Mirror do you like what you see?”  Pam Green posed this question in her summing up of the panel discussion. Here is what Pam saw as the key take away messages

  • There is a coming storm of many ‘peaks’ – water, soil, oil, current centralised systems, biodiversity. There is only one water, one planet.
  • A functioning, healthy environment is the key to health, well being and prosperity.
  • A raised awareness/mindfulness/shift in consciousness is essential.
  • Awareness, education and making it easy and economical is key to enabling good choices.
  • There is a need to develop new traditions to support new values – real value of food in social, cultural, environmental and economic terms.
  • Growing ideas as well as food important. Artists are innovators and develop creative space for change.
  • There is a need for better awareness of true account for use of natural resources – what is the carbon or environmental footprint of food production what are the transparent trade offs in land use change for housing, mining, other uses? National environmental accounts to be viewed along side of our national economic accounts.
  • The importance of connectivity – joined up thinking about the whole web of life. Humans are part of this web but we need to manage our change of the rest of the biosphere with the future in mind.
  • We need to envision the future, map a path to it and start the journey.
  • Local leadership is critical. We are on the cusp of a new age of networked and distributed economy and society.
  • Society is the mirror of our collective humanness

Mirror, mirror on the wall, do we like what we see? We are the change we seek. Well said Pam                

By the way for those of you not familiar with the venue Bundanon is Arthur and Yvonne Boyd’s gift to the Australian people. The property managed by a Trust includes the Bundanon Homestead site and the Riversdale site and is located on 1,100 hectares of pristine bush land overlooking the Shoalhaven River, near Nowra in New South Wales, two and a half hours south of Sydney. The Trust’s Board of Directors reports directly to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, who in turn appoints the Chairperson and the Directors.

Bundanon

Bundanon House

Arthur Boyd's Studio. Photographer Keith Saunders._0

Arthur Boyd’s studio at Bundanon – photo by Keith Saunders

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We had tea at the Riversdale Education Centre in this amazing building designed by Glenn Murcutt. Yes that is the Shoalhaven River you see in the background and I thought I lived in paradise.

Riversdale

The Riversdale Exterior 

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There are art forms everywhere you look

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There was something for everyone

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Local foodie and cafe owner Cathy Law manned the Green Box Stand

 

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We dined on Bundanon Beef and Farm Manager Henry Goodall created a Paddock to Plate video which was available for viewing in the Bundanon Homestead.  He also tanned the hide which is the rug you see on the floor

Lynne and Henry

The farmers Henry Goodall and Lynne Strong ( proving she has a very big mouth)

 

There is more to come

3 thoughts on “Mirror Mirror Do you like what you see?

  1. Lynne, I think the urban food movement is actually a good thing for farmers – it shows how many urban Australians are already thinking about their food and wanting to DO something about making it sustainable. We farmers need to step up to the plate and explain how that can happen efficiently on the land with their help.

  2. I feel you can never have enough conversations, especially ones that encourage people to think in a bigger context and formulate ideas on such important issues. Creativity in thinking is a generator of many new concepts put into place. Talking in our “own” circles only, Whether it be farming, food , environmental concerns, education, often tends to reinforce what we already think, and doesn’t necessarily provide any impetus for growth, through the exchange of ideas.
    Do we need a bigger definition for agriculture? We know that most of our food and fibre in this country are produced in rural areas, but as the world looks for further ways to establish food supplies, surely there is a validity in looking at ways of producing food in urban areas? I feel we will have to explore many aspects of food production in a world we can’t envision at the moment. These are just thoughts that drift through my head …
    I look forward to hearing more about the other conference speakers and expanding my own ideas!

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