Young people telling it like it is

I caught up with the dynamo Mike Stephens at the NFF Roundtable last Friday and introduced him to Stephanie Coombes. We were then lucky enough to catch up with Associate Professor Peter Sale from La Trobe University over dinner where the conversation centred on nurturing young people in agriculture and how we identify them, engage them and provide them with the skills sets to empower them to lead Australian agriculture into the future.

Mike sent me this quote this evening.  Don’t you just love it

I crave human beings who understand the world, who gain sustenance from such understanding, and who want–ardently, perennially–to alter it for the better. Such citizens can only come into existence if students learn to understand the world as it has been portrayed by those who have studied it most carefully and lived in it most thoughtfully; if they become familiar with the range–the summits, the valleys, the straight and meandering paths – of what other humans have achieved; and if they learn always to monitor their own lives in terms of human possibilities, including ones that have not been anticipated before. Source: Gardner, The Disciplined Mind – Penguin – pages 19/20

This week Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion and Clover Hill Dairies team member Emma Visser is one of “ 36 young, thoughtful and opinionated Australians who will come together in Canberra today, February 5th to attend Heywire – a “Tell It Like It Is” Regional Youth Summit. The 2011 Heywire winners from across regional Australia will engage in a five days of discussion and project idea pitching. They will speak directly with government decision makers, Australian youth sector leaders and key ABC staff.”

Emma at Heywire

Emma and fellow Heywire winners tackling the Marshmallow Competition

Emma joins talented young people of the ilk of Melody Pedlar for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The challenge for agriculture is how do we build on these opportunities our shining stars are being given.

Bindi Turner commented on my previous post “The world is run by those who show up” by saying “I struggle with a) the apathy when its an open invitation and b) who gets the tap on the shoulder when its not”

Bindi you have inspired me to put this forward.  I would like to suggest to all those people out there who get a tap on the shoulder – ask if you can bring a friend. Then identify an exciting inspiring YOUNG person in agriculture who deserves to be heard and take them – you have nothing to lose and agriculture has everything to gain.

The National Farmers Federation Blueprint is our chance to define the farming landscape. Lets make it a legacy we can all be proud of

Emma’s winning Heywire video can be watched here

The world is run by those who show up

Yesterday I participated in the National Farmers Federation roundtable to discuss Higher Education and Skills and Training in Agriculture as part of the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture.

There was a few farmers there, a number of representatives of peak industry bodies, a lot of bureaucrats,a lot of professors from agricultural universities, some thought leaders from industry service providers, a representative of the AWU and the RSPCA and some pollies.

Can you see the glaring big hole in the audience? Where were all the young people? All those exciting young people who have just been through, or are going through, or a hoping to go though “Higher Education and Skills and Training in Agriculture”

Yes we all sat around the room and listened and talked and second guessed their needs.

“The world is run by those who show up” Its time agriculture made sure the right people were given the opportunity to show up

When art becomes the voice

Our eco warrior Erin Lake is leaving us to take up her placement in the Graduate Program for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC). This department is responsible for a lot of things including a commitment to  conserve Australia’s environment and to promote sustainable living within Australia.

Erin is perfect for this position which is offered to people who demonstrate leadership potential, enthusiasm and initiative

Erin is particularly hoping to work in the Land and Coasts division (which look after initiatives such as Caring for Our Country), where she will be able to apply the fundamental knowledge she has gained while working on ground, to achieve the best outcomes for managing Australia’s natural resources.

See previous posts about Erin here

Custodians of the Land

Next Gen Giving our Farm lots of TLC

Start the day with the perfect cocktail

Erin and Megan Rowlatt who heads up Illawarra Youth Landcare are the driving force of a group of young people who are not only passionate about the sustainability of the planet they are actually doing something about it.In fact Megan is the current NSW Young Landcarer of the Year.

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Megan and Erin in full flight

Together we have been coordinating a number of activities which include film and social media and now art to engage, enthuse, educate and empower both farmers and rural landholders who care about their land but don’t necessarily have the skills sets to ensure the best outcomes for the landscape and the native animals.

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We are using art to reinvigorate Landcare messages and Erin has left us with these superb artistic reminders ( made from 44 gallon drums) of her time with us..

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Drum Art is now protecting endangered and treasured native species at Clover Hill

The drum artworks are Erin Lake inspired masterpieces painted by artists from La Division. This is a highly motivated group of young people who showcase the talent of local artists and share their passions through art, film, photography, surf and skate.

Visit LA’DIVISION Facebook page here

The label, La Division, is an outlet to produce clothing to help support local artists. La Division artists have been supporters of many community events including Landcare Illawarra’s Dune Day festival and the recent KISS arts festival.

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LA’DIVISION artist at Dune Day

One of the great things about art is it enables participation from people of all ages and backgrounds. Its highly visual. It captures attention. It ensures people stop and think and appreciate

LA’DIVISION artist Trait said “Painting tawny frog mouths and fleshy fruits on 44 gallon drums is not exactly traditional street art but it was a great challenge and an even greater cause” 

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Erin Megan and Anna plant our special trees

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Each drum lists the botanic name and the common name of the species it is hosting and providing shade and shelter for

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This drum has the prestigious role of hosting the endangered  Illawarra Socketwood

What a great idea Erin and what great outcomes

We finished the tree plantings with a celebration party to say a big thank you to Erin and wish her all the best in the “Bush Capital

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Erin will be christening her new job with a bottle of the delicious Clover Hill Champagne 2001 Vintage

 

Special thanks to LADIVISION artists

Trait

Mirko Sossai

Boyd.e

Chris Anderson

Start the day with the perfect cocktail

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This weekend Erin (see Next Gen giving our farm lots of TLC) has bought the troops in to put the finishing touches on our Fountaindale Dam project

Fountaindale Dam is a beautiful area bordering our farm but was sadly suffering from benign neglect and we have taken it upon ourselves to build community partnerships to help rectify this.

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This important community area covers diverse environmental zones including the headwaters of Fountaindale Creek which flows into Minnamurra River and wetlands.

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Red circle indicate area of Fountaindale Dam at Jamberoo

Whilst the dam borders our farm it is actually owned by Kiama Council who built it a long time ago in the hope of supplying Kiama with water. An expensive pipe dream as it turned out.

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Lots of farm generations have had fun playing under the dam wall

Above the dam are a number of hobby and lifestyle farms and many small mountain streams which bisect significant areas of high conservation value remnant rainforest feed into the dam. The hobby and lifestyle farms unfortunately in the main don’t fence their cattle out of the waterways and this has led to considerable degradation of the upper stream beds during the drought.

The region is also habitat for the spotted quoll – a beautiful little native animal (which also has a penchance for chooks)

Spotted quoll

Spotted quoll cute and endangered but don’t let him near your chickens

Zieria Granulata is an endangered shrub found only in the Illawarra region of NSW and also thrives here.

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With the support of Kiama Council and funding from a Community Action Grant and Erin’s expertise we cleared the invasive evil lantana from the banks of the dam.

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Lantana is considered to be one of the ten worst weeds worldwide but it is so entrenched in the Australian landscape its thickets now provide a substitute habitat for a range of animals, including bandicoots, whipbirds, quail, wrens, birdwing butterflies and brush turkeys, where it has replaced the natural understorey vegetation.

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Every wise landholder knows removing Lantana is a waste of time unless cleared areas are revegetated with native trees or pasture immediately and regular maintenance is a must until the vegetation is well established.

Fountaindale Dam Jan 18th 2011  (8)

Once we had cleared the Lantana we sowed ryegrass in the open areas and did spot spraying of secondary weed nasties in the rainforest understory.

Jack's Paddock

We ensure all our paddocks around the dam have a permanent pasture coverage which helps keep the nutrients on the pasture where they should be and not washed into the waterways during major rainfall events. 

This weekend Erin and her eco warriors have planted a further 400 rainforest tree species such as Black plum, bleeding heart and myrtle ebony as part of a new wildlife corridor.

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Petrol powered plant auger makes light work of digging the holes

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We even landscaped the backyard of our friendly neighbourhood wombat

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Michael bravely put his hand up to plant all the Giant Stinging Trees (Dendrocnide excelsa)-

The purpose of these plantings is to strengthen the existing wildlife corridor that links the lower rainforest to the rainforest around the dam. Once the trees in the wildlife corridor are established we will be planting rows of native grasses to act as a nutrient buffer zone between the pastures and the dam. This will ensure minimal farm runoff can get into the community waterways and help reduce the nutrient load on the waterways.

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All the rainforest trees that have been planted here have been provided by Landcare Illawarra as part of the “Illawarra Rainforest and Woodland project”.

This project aims to increase the genetic diversity of plantings in the Illawarra which has the potential to increase the level of fruiting of individual species. This is an important project as it aims to ensure genetic variability in the many species selected. Landcare Illawarra has collected seed from multiple locations to guarantee this.

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Many hands make light work and another great effort from Next Gen Eco Warriors

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Heads up today is Erin’s birthday – you can wish her happy birthday and tell her what a great little eco warrior she is via Twitter @ErinLake_C2G

There is no room for ordinary in agriculture anymore.

These days I get asked to speak at many varied events and that pleases me greatly

This month it is the Future World Eco Technology Centre in Wollongong and the topic is ‘Sustainable Urban Food Production”

Once upon a time when I was just starting my crusade ( Farmers Call to Arms) to give the community real farmers they could relate to and most importantly talk to; Rosemary Stanton was the face of sustainable agriculture at every community forum I went to. I was mortified. Expert on human nutrition she may be, commercial farmer she is not and whilst my degree gives me a sound knowledge of human nutrition and I have opinions about it there is no way I would up put myself up as an expert. Rosemary has strong opinions indeed about sustainable agriculture but that’s all they are, armchair expert opinions.

So I asked myself why is Rosemary asked to talk on this topic and not a farmer. After hearing her speak a couple of times and attending a few agriculture conferences the reason was obvious Rosemary Stanton is a damned good highly charismatic presenter

It then became very clear to me agriculture desperately needed farmers who were both experts in their field and charismatic speakers who could relate to urban audiences and urban audiences to them.

This is why I love and fight so hard for the Young Farming Champions program. (See footnote)

In November last year I presented at the Future Focused Ag Oz forum to a group of 20 young rising stars of agriculture. The topic of my presentation was “Wanted extraordinary people for an extraordinary challenge”

I started my presentation with a picture of me and said “My name is Lynne Strong and I am extraordinary”  Slide 1

This was followed by a picture of Michael and Nick with the statement “ I farm with my family and they are extraordinary”  Slide 2

I then put up a slide with a picture of our cows and said “our cows supply 50,000 Australians with milk everyday and they are extraordinary” Then I said “ as you can see there is a pattern forming here extraordinary can be contagious.” Slide 3

With that I asked each person to introduce themselves to the person sitting next to them and then tell them they were extraordinary and of course these exciting young people got into the groove straight away.

Slide 4 went on to say “Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge.  There is no room for ordinary in agriculture anymore”

Now when I do a new presentation that’s a bit out there I run it by my family. This time I only showed them slides 1, 2 and 3 without telling them who the audience was.  They both looked shocked and said “You are not giving that presentation to dairy farmers are you?”  When I said no its for a group of young farmers with similar mindset to the Young Farming Champions they were quite comfortable with that but assured me I could never give that presentation to a group of dairy farmers.

I recently asked a wise person who works across all industries why dairy farmers are such quiet achievers.? Why has it been inbuilt in dairy farmers to play things down? Why aren’t we encouraged to celebrate?

He said the dairy industry is like the egg industry. They are the two most silo orientated industries in Australia and this mindset is embeded in their culture.

It is clear to me and the exciting young farmers I meet and work with we need a culture of change as being quiet achievers is achieving very little. Agriculture has great stories to tell and farmers should be loud and proud. If agriculture is going to overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities with both hands it is imperative that we find vehicles for our young farmers to stand up and show Australia (and the world) just how extraordinary our farmers are.

I am currently putting together a number of blog posts for the Art4agriculutureChat site that have been written by some of the inspiring young farmers I have met over the last 12 months.

Last week we featured Melissa Henry and thanks to the twitterverse and Facebook Melissa’s story is now one of the Art4AgricultureChat most popular blog posts. It is clear that the community is interested in stories about young farmers written by young farmers  and we will be sharing them with you as often as we can

Next up is Young Farming Champion, AYOF Roadie and NSW Farmers Young Farmers’ Council Chair Hollie Baillieu followed by Horizon Scholar Rozzie O’Reilly. Two extraordinary young farmers of the future.

You can read Hollies post here Agriculture can take you anywhere you chose

If you know an exciting young farmer and would like to share their story with the world send me an email at Lynnestrong@cloverhilldairies.com.au

Footnote

The Young Farming Champions program was inspired by the most impressive initiative I have ever been involved in which is the Climate Champions program.

The Climate Champions program is a cross industry partnership of farmers across Australia which has exposed me to the bright minds from other industries. There is nothing more rewarding for your personal development than surrounding yourself with innovative thinkers you can learn from. The Climate Champions program is managed by the fabulous team from Econnect who not only deliver the workshops they support each of the 34 farmers 365 days 24/7

The Climate Champions program is a collaboration between the Grains Research & Development Corporation, Managing Climate Variability and Meat & Livestock Australia

Farmers call to arms

Each year the Readers Digest does a poll to determine Australia’s most trusted professions. Last year as you can see farmers came in at number 7.

Top ten most trusted professions in 2011

1. Paramedics

2. Firefighters

3. Pilots

4. Rescue volunteers

5. Nurses

6. Pharmacists

7. Farmers

8. Medical specialists

9. GPs

10. Veterinarians

Four years ago when farmers were at number 9 I showed the list to a group of farmers and posed the question “ why aren’t farmers at the top of the list”. The farmers around the table replied “ the majority of the professions in the top 10 save lives”. My reply was without farmers supplying people with food, their most basic of needs, there would be no life and we need to find away to remind people just how important farmers are.

At that time I received mostly blank looks to my suggestion from the farmers around the table. I thought this was very sad and recognised we also needed to find a way to make farmers realise just how important they are. After all if you don’t believe in yourself how can you expect anyone else too.

So I began a crusade to fix this lack of appreciation of farmer self worth and initiated the Art4Agriculture programs to provide opportunities for farmers to share their stories with the community and in turn get a greater understanding of the community’s expectations of the people who supply them with food and fibre. The aim was to create a two way appreciation between rural and urban communities and an understanding of how much we rely on each other.

This year is Australian Year of the Farmer. A once in a life time opportunity to remind people (farmers and the community alike) just how important our farmers are.

Australian Year of the Farmer is an opportunity for every primary industry, every rural community and every farmer to invite their urban cousins to join them in a 365 day celebration.

Beyond Art4agriculture’s activities I am having a dinner party once a month for my urban friends. They will receive a copy of an Australian rural showcase like Fiona Lake’s books which my first guests were lucky enough to get.

AYOF dinner

We will celebrate local produce, drink local wine and I will be encouraging them to wake up each morning and say “I thank a farmer today”

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There is no shortage of great food on the South Coast.  And just to prove it we recently won the 100 mile challenge

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What do you have planned?

Well known Australian author Fleur McDonald– the voice of outback has pledged to get hold of 52 Farmers and post a blog a week from a farmer. From every part of Agriculture; grain, stock, mixed, fishing, dairy, viticulture, communications and so on and so forth!

This week I am very honoured to say I am farmer no 4. You will find my blog on Fleur’s site as well as at the bottom of this post.

CALL TO ARMS

This is my challenge to Australian farmers. Farmers are currently number 7 on Australia’s most trusted professions list. How can we work together to make 2012 the year Australia votes to put their farmers at number 1?

I look forward to working with each and everyone of you to make this happen

Fleur McDonald – Australian Year of the Farmer – a farmers story No 4 by Lynne Strong Clover Hill Dairies

Firstly I would like thank Fleur McDonald for giving me this opportunity to share my story and congratulate her for taking the lead in Australian Year of the Farmer by sharing 52 farmers’ stories. For too long food has been about cooking and eating and recipes and restaurants with little attention paid to the origin of the key ingredients. It’s time for everyone in the food value chain to follow Fleur’s lead and put faces to the product and give our customers real farmers they can relate to

1. Summary of your family and farming enterprise

My name is Lynne Strong and I farm at Clover Hill Dairies in partnership with my husband Michael and son Nick in what I refer to as paradise – the beautiful Jamberoo valley on the South Coast of NSW.

Clover Hill Dairies

Jamberoo is the birth place of the Australian dairy industry and the cooperative movement and my family has been farming here for 180 years.

I am actively involved in the day to day running of our two dairy farms where we milk 500 cows that produce milk to supply over 50,000 Australians daily. Lynne and Michael Strong

The highlight of my farming journey to date has been winning the National Landcare Primary Producer Award. This award recognises farmers who have a holistic view of farming and are committed to achieving the delicate balance between sustainable and profitable food production, and the health and wellbeing of people, animals and the planet

Nick Strong

2. Why I farm

· I farm because the people I care about most in the world farm and they are in it for the long haul

· I farm because I believe feeding, clothing and housing the world is the noblest profession

· I farm because I like the mental intensity, the constant review process, the drive to get up each day and do it better. The fulfilling challenge of balancing productivity, people, animals and the planet

· I farm because inspirational people farm. Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge. When I work with inspirational people, they light my fire, feed my soul and challenge me to continue to strive to make a unique contribution to agriculture and the community.

3. What do you foresee as the biggest short term and long term challenges in farming?

Sadly Australia is complacent about the challenges to food security. There is a lack of appreciation by society in general of the interdependence of environment, agriculture, food and health.

However if we are to progress and fuel the mushrooming food needs of the cities while meeting the community’s expectations for environmental sustainability and animal well-being, then both rural and urban communities must have greater mutual empathy and respect.

This I believe is the real challenge facing farmers in the immediate future -How do we fix it?

As I see it we can do one of two things. We (farmers) can sit back and lament that we are victims or we can actively acknowledge that farmers are business people selling a product and successful businesses recognise marketing is a strategic part of doing business.

Marketing doesn’t mean every farmer needs to have a logo, spend money on advertising, write a marketing plan, write a blog, join Twitter or Facebook – it simply means being customer focused. This means you have to understand your customer and their values and your business has to BE the image you want your customer to see.Then whenever you get a chance, put that image out there. It may be at the farmgate, at a local farmers market, a community meeting, a media interview or whenever you are in contact with consumers.

Every sector of the food system whether they be farmers, manufacturers, branded food companies, supermarkets or restaurants is under ever increasing pressure to demonstrate they are operating in a way that is consistent with stakeholder values and expectations. Farmers cannot expect to be exempted from this scrutiny just because we grow the food.

Businesses are built on relationships. This means we (farmers) have to get out there in our communities and start having two way conversations with our customers

Excitingly I know that once farmers embrace the concept they will discover like me that it can be very rewarding talking to your customers. They are interested and they do care.

There are so many ways farmers can share their stories. To help achieve this I initiated the innovative ‘Art4Agriculture’ programs which started with Picasso Cows and is now the Archibull Prize. The Archibull Prize uses art and multimedia to engage thousands of students in learning about the valuable role farmers play in Australia’s future.

With the Art4Agriculture team I am working on establishing an Australia wide network of ‘young agricultural champions’ who are trained to tell the great story of Australian agriculture to the next generation of consumers – students.

This program connects young people from different food and fibre industries. They get to see their similarities, they find common ground, they realise each has issues that are just as challenging, and they learn how they can help each other.

Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champions program for 2012 will train a team of 24 young farmers from regional Australia to actively engage with students in schools around Australia. The students will focus on a particular food or fibre industry, receive a unique insight from their Young Farming Champion and then enter their project work (their Archie) to vie for the ‘Archibull Prize’.

Our Young Farming Champions will also have the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive and diverse array of initiatives offered by our supporting partners. These events will provide a platform from which to develop, build and strengthen the capacity of the Young Farming Champions and allow primary industries to develop key farmer-to-stakeholder and farmer-to-consumer relationships.

Through their involvement in Art4Agriculture school programs our Young Farming Champions will be able to directly market their food or fibre industry and its diverse career pathways to a captive and relevant audience. The legacy of the Young Farming Champions program is to create an Australia wide network of enthusiastic young professionals and build their capacity to promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry.

We believe this program will not only help build the capability of young rural people to farm with resilience and confidence it will provide a great platform to spark the next generations’ interest in an agricultural career.

4. What is my vision for the future?

My vision for the future isn’t too difficult; it just requires a different way of thinking. I believe a profitable and sustainable healthy future for the farming sector is achievable – the health and welfare of all Australians and many people around the world depends on it.

To drive the process of change requires champions and leaders. But to change grass roots perceptions, we need grass roots action. Farmers care about the country, their livestock and the people they provide with food and fibre. Beyond best farming practices, farmers have to be out in communities, walking the talk – from paddock to plate, from cow to consumer – and building trust between rural and urban communities. I want farming men and women to go out and sell the message that feeding and clothing the world is an awesome responsibility and a noble profession, and that it offers great careers. Just imagine if we could achieve my vision of an Australia-wide network of trained, passionate farmers talking directly with the communities they supply!

5. What do you wish non-farmers / city people & the Australian Government understood about farming?

Australian farmers proudly feed and clothe 60 million people. If they were doctors or nurses or pharmacists or ambulance officers or firemen there would be a moment in most people’s lives when they would be reminded just how important those professions are.
But farmers, at less than 1 per cent of the Australian population, are almost invisible and with food in abundance in this country, there is little opportunity to remind Australians just how important our farmers are.
I am hoping Australian Year of the Farmer starts a very long conversation and a new appreciation for the land that produces our food and the hands that grow it

6. What would I like to see on a billboard?

Billboard – across Sydney Harbour Bridge

“If you want safe, affordable, nutritious food forever love the land that produces it and the hands that grow it.”

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You can visit us at the following websites:

Clover Hill Dairies www.cloverhilldairies.com.au

Art4agriculture www.art4agriculture.com.au

Read our blogs at:

Clover Hill Dairies Diary https://chdairiesdiary.wordpress.com/

Art4agriculturechat http://art4agriculturechat.wordpress.com

Follow us on twitter:

@chdairies and @art4ag

Follow us on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clover-Hill-Dairies/211850082224503

http://www.facebook.com/art4agriculture/

You can find links to our Flickr, Slideshare and YouTube accounts on our websites as well as my email address. Looking forward to hearing from you

Custodians of the land

Clover Hill Dairies in partnership with a number of local stakeholders has been lucky enough to access Federal government Caring for our Country funding to deliver great environmental outcomes on both local dairy farms and hobby farms which are also providing significant benefits for the waterways of the wider catchment

When we started these activities on the farm five years ago we recognised we didn’t have the expertise required to do the job to the level of significance our landscape deserved so we sought expertise from Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority and Landcare Illawarra to ensure best on farm and wider catchment environmental outcomes. We outsourced cow comfort expertise from our farm consultant Dr Neil Moss and Dairy Australia’s NSW NRM coordinator Jess Jennings

Then we got stuck into it and we were pretty pleased with the outcomes and ourselves. A couple of years down the track we found we had ongoing maintenance problems and we readily admit we were well and truly out of our depth.

Cows grazing along water ways do a great job of keeping the weeds under control but the negative is they pollute the waterways and the negatives definitely out way the positives

So when you fence the cows out of the waterways and riparian zones the challenge is then how do you control the nasty weeds. Again you get the experts in and this time its was the bush regenerators. If you then take the time and have two way conversations with these amazing people you learn so much and we now have a new appreciation for our native landscapes and the plants who inhabit them.

We have worked with a number of bush regenerators over the years but our favourite is Erin Lake who I wrote about here

Erin with the help of director Ann Burbrook and videographer Tay Plain of Clear Cut Productions is creating a series of short videos with which we aim to engage, enthuse, educate and empower both farmers and rural landholders who care about their land but don’t necessarily have the skills sets to ensure the best outcomes for the landscape and the native animals

Here are some pictorial highlights from the last two days of the film shoot on the farm

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Director Ann and “talent” Erin co write the scripts

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On set Day 1 and Tay checks out the lighting

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and action

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Ann multi-skills and Erin proves to be a natural. Watch out Richard Attenborough

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Day 2. As far as locations go it doesn’t get much better than this

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Learning the lines

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was never so peaceful

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Cant wait to see the outcome of this footage

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New life

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Its a wrap and now long process of editing and reviewing the footage begins

We hope the take home message from our videos will be

Whether you are a commercial farmer or a hobby farmer or just lucky enough to have your own little piece of rural heaven it is pivotal to remember we are just custodians of the land

The landscape and our waterways are our lifeblood, they feed us, they provide us with natural beauty and so much more, they are not a toy and we must treat them with respect

If you don’t have the skills to manage them to the level they deserve GET THE EXPERTS IN

Russian latte–opening the farmgate has many advantages

We have been opening our farm gate to international delegations for over ten years.

There is no denying hosting visitors to your farm is a lot of work. It can also be very rewarding and enlightening

I grew up a country town in NSW. I met the first person who couldn’t speak English when I was ten. I was fascinated by the new girl at our school who was Italian and didn’t speak one word of English. How brave was she. We didn’t mean to but I am pretty sure we all made her feel like an alien.

I learnt French at school so was very comfortable travelling to France when I went overseas but I must admit sadly I have favoured visits to overseas countries where the majority of people speak English.

So hosting delegations of farmers who speak no English is quite an eye opening learning experience. Whilst they always come with a translator invariably the translator knows little about farming.

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Dimitry the translator knew little about farming but he made up for that with lots of personality and good humour

The farmers always take loIMG_6702ts of notes

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take hundred of pictures

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not only video cameras but and Ipads as well

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and ask a lot of questions

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and like all farmers love big pieces of machinery

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and love to share their farming stories and this weeks visitors from Russia were no different.

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Our consultant Dr Neil Moss was on hand to explain the technical details

Come to think of it I don’t think I have meet a Russian before and these farmers where so Russian. Why was I so flabbergasted when the bottles of vodka were bought out for morning team

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There was vodka for the Russian Lattes

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Straight vodka and vodka on the rocks

Russian Birthday Boy

Russian and Aussie icons go down well together

This Russian delegation was from the Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) region and they were very proud of their heritage presenting me with a replica of the famous Motherland Calls statue.

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The history of this statue is fascinating. Briefly in 1967, the Soviet Union dedicated a towering monument to one of its great World War II triumphs. The Motherland Calls stands 170 ft., hoisting a sword to the sky that measures another 108 ft. 200 steps lead to the base of the statue to commemorate the 200 day battle of Stalingrad where the Red Army broke a German siege, only to surround and defeat the invading army. Motherland is not fixed to her base, though, and seeping groundwater has caused the plinth to lean nearly eight inches.

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I also received a bottle of Russia’s finest and I have since had a few Cosmopolitans to remind me of our new Russian friends

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Two way conversations are the key

As anyone who knows me will tell you I have very strong opinions about the way forward for sustainable agriculture.

Today my post reflects on the importance of both talking and listening.

Sadly Australia is complacent about the challenges to food security.  There is a lack of appreciation by society in general of the interdependence of environment, agriculture, food and health.

However if we are to progress and fuel the mushrooming food needs of the cities while meeting the community’s expectations for environmental sustainability and animal well being, then both rural and urban communities must have greater mutual empathy and respect.

This I believe is the real challenge facing farmers in the immediate future – how do we fix it?

As I see it we can do one of two things

We (farmers) can sit back and lament that we are victims or we can actively acknowledge that farmers are business people selling a product and successful businesses recognise marketing is the strategic part of doing business.

Marketing doesn’t mean every farmer needs to write a blog, join Twitter or Facebook it simply means being customer focused. This means you have to understand your customer and their values and your business has to BE the image you want your customer to see.

Every sector of the food system whether that be farmers, manufactures, branded food companies, supermarkets or restaurants is under ever increasing pressure to demonstrate they are operating in a way that is consistent with stakeholder values and expectations. Farmers cannot expect to be exempted from this scrutiny just because we grow the food.

Businesses are built on relationships. This means we (farmers) have to get out there in our communities and start having two way conversations with our customers

Excitingly I know that once farmers embrace the concept they will discover like me that it can be very rewarding talking to your customers. They are interested and they do care.

There are so many ways farmers can share their stories. This one is very quirky and I just love it. Check it out you will too

Cobargo Dairy Farmer Stephanie Tarlinton shares her story via YouTube

WINNING DAIRY ENTRIES ANNOUNCED

 

Recognising all food fibre industries share common ground we have designed the  Archibull Prize as a cross industry partnership.

This year we showcased grains, beef, sheep, wool, dairy and the egg industry.

There are some superb dairy entries with Model Farms High School coming second overall.

This post is a tribute to all the schools who studied the dairy industry and showcases the winning dairy entries.

A special thank you to our Young Dairy Farming Champions Emma Visser, Erin Lake Stephanie Tarlinton, and Naomi Marks. You are all absolute stars

By the way just to reinforce that this month alone Emma has won her section of the Heywire competition and Naomi has been named Ms Dorrigo Showgirl !!!!!!!


THE ARCHIBULL PRIZE 2011 HONOUR ROLL

Archibull Prize  2011

Runner Up

Model Farms High School

Model Farms



Secondary School Winner

Best Blog

Model Farms High School
(Dairy Industry)



Secondary School Winner

Best PowerPoint
Model Farms High School
(Dairy Industry)


Primary School Winner

Best Video

Schofield Primary School
(Dairy Industry)


Technology Award of Excellence

Windsor Public School


The Archibull Prize was developed with the support of the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Woolworths Ltd, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, NSW Department of Primary Industries, LandLearn NSW and Hawkesbury Harvest.


Want to join the Archibull Prize Team in 2012?

Opportunities are available for other organisations who share the same passion and vision as we do to be part of the Archibull Prize 2012

For more information please contact
National Program Director
Lynne Strong
105 Clover Hill Rd
Jamberoo NSW 2533
Phone 02 42 360 309
Mobile 0412 428 334
Email: lynnestrong@art4agriculture.com.au
Web: www.art4agriculture.com.au

Join the growing list of supporting partners for 2012