Next Gen giving our farm lots of TLC

It was a huge day at the farm on Wednesday with our eco warrior Erin Lake leading a team of volunteers in revegetating an important area of our riparian (areas around our waterways) zone.

Little aside on Erin – Erin has passion for biodiversity like no other and she takes every opportunity to share her passion with the world

In her role as a Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion

ERIN PAYTNER

Here is Erin with the Castle Hill High School Archibull Prize entry team. See the video she made for her school presentation to Castle Hill High School here. Its awesome

Out in the streets hunting down and eradicating the dreaded evil Madeira Vine

Madeira Vine

or waging the war against the nasty environmental invaders on farms across the Illawarra and south coast

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Here she is with fellow A team bush “regener” Jake Proust

Or organising community events like Dune Day

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Erin Lake event organiser

or spreading the good eco messages thru the media

Erins Passion for the Land

Or engaging with and encouraging young people to have a greater appreciation for the landscape

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Now back to today’s story –  the volunteers hailed from the National Green Jobs Corps– a youth training and employment program encouraging young people to be involved in the NRM ( natural resource management) industry.

Erin identified an area in one of our creek lines as an important wildlife corridor which links together two significant stands of Rainforest on the farm, and in need of a little help to get re-established.

So the wonderful Michael (Strong) arrived at the site before any of us were even awake, to slash the Kikuyu to make it easy for the volunteers to plant into. And what an amazing job he did! Oh and as usual- he did it with a big smile

Michael and Lynne Strong

Michael my hero – ooooooooooh palpitations

The Green Corps arrived early to get stuck into the planting. They were very excited when they found out that they were going to be getting a lift to the site in the back of Erin’s Ute (albeit very slowly) – but just as excited when they found out they were going to be revegetating some important sub-tropical rainforest.

Back of Truck

The trees that were used in the planting were nothing short of amazing- there was a huge variety of local species supplied by Richard Scarborough from Landcare Illawarra. Richard tells us that these trees were grown from around 7 different local nurseries and this makes sure that there is a wide genetic diversity in the plantings, which is very important for biodiversity.

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Richard Scarborough – local legend

The trees we planted included some of Erin’s favourites – Native Tamarinds (Diploglottis australis), Black Apple’s ( Planchonella australis)

and even a couple of Giant Stinging Trees (Dendrocnide excelsa)- which are a very important local rainforest trees apparently ie if you can forgive the almighty sting you receive if you brush against one of the leaves! and I dont find myself very forgiving in this instance particularly after the day I thought a young one was a Tobacco Bush which I decided to pull out withy my bare hands. Oh how I regretted that little “do good” effort

Baby Stinging Nettle Tree

Stinging Nettle Trees love the soil at Clover Hill – I don’t love them  – baby ones popping up everywhere – that “thing” with the big round leaves next to the Red Cedar ( love them)

So the Green Corps did an amazing job of planting nearly 200 trees and we were very grateful for the use of a Petrol Auger that was supplied by Landcare Illawarra!

Erin and Mick returned on Friday to put on the tree guards (thanks to Couriers Please for your as always delayed service… LESSON TO ALL NEVER EVER USE “COURIERS PLEASE”).

We are trialing the use of Milk Carton Guards as they are biodegradable and very appropriate for a planting on a dairy farm!

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And seeing some of our milk goes into PURA cartons I think we should be able to get a better deal on our next purchase and I can assure you it wont be “Couriers Please” who bring them to the farm

Our maintenance regime will be just as important and our plan is to mow and snip to keep the Kikuyu down and use a light Glyposate mix to keep the grass away from the plantings. This is where the guards will be very useful- they highlight where the trees are to the mowing contractors, and they protect the plants from any spray drift while they are only little. Once they grow to a metre- they will need very little maintenance and they will grow into beautiful trees before we know it.

So all in all a great day and another example of how effective partnerships can make a huge difference and lead to great successes in Natural Resource Management on Australian dairy farms and help keep our cows happy and healthy.

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Erin is a great advocate for the Nationals Green Jobs Corps Initiative. “This is a program that works. I have been lucky enough to be involved with a number of these groups and I have found that their team leaders are consistently brilliant- patient and very enthusiastic about training these young people- and learn a lot themselves from working with such a diversity of people.” says Erin

Well Done Green Corps and Erin!

AND THE WINNER IS

My family has been farming for 180 years. 180 of great farming stories waiting to be told. But how, but where and to whom. My family aren’t alone farmers across Australia have great stories to tell.  So I decided to fill this gap and what better audience than our future, our school students, the next generation of consumers, decision makers and our workforce.

So Art4Agriculture was born. Our signature program is the Archibull Prize and now we have paired the Archibull Prize with the Young Farming Champions program which I hope will be my ongoing legacy.

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The Archibull Prize Awards and Exhibition Day is the highlight of the Art4Agriculture year 

It was yesterday and it was huge. Woolworths rolled out the red carpet and hosted the event. The Hon Katrina Hodgkinson not only presented the winners she spent considerable time viewing the artworks and talking to the students  

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I love the Archibull Prize. Every entry gives me one of those ‘feel good’ moments.

It reminds me that young Australians are interested and positive about the future and they are filled with hope.

Don’t believe what you read in the papers – our school students are engaged, they are talented and they are truly inspiring!

And this competition proves it!

This year was second time we have rolled out the program in Western Sydney with 5 primary schools and 15 secondary schools participating.

20 bulls have made their way to the judging ring and today we found out which schools have triumphed in each of the categories and who is the Grand Champion Bull

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Once again it has been an outstanding success

I thought the entries last year were impressive – but the schools who participated this year have taken things to a whole new level.

  • We have some amazing examples of fine art
  • We have discovered digital technology we didn’t no existed
  • We have entries that have astounded the heads of the food and fibre industries our schools have showcased

World class is the only way to describe the efforts of the teachers and the student participants in the 2011 Archibull Prize

and the winners are ?

Announced by the Hon Katrina Hodgkinson Minister for Primary Industries and Small  Business

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Primary Winner

Secondary Winner

Artwork

Macarthur Anglican School

($250.00)

Caroline Chisholm College

($250.00)

Blog

Macarthur Anglican School

($250.00)

Model Farms High School

($250.00)

PowerPoint

St Michaels Catholic Primary School

($250.00)

Colo High School ($250.00)

Model Farms High School ($250.00)

Video

Schofield Primary School

($250.00)

Caroline Chisholm College

($250.00)

Overall 2012 Archibull Prize Winner

Caroline Chisholm College ($1,000.00)

“Moobiks Cube”

Artwork Award of Excellence

Hurlstone Agricultural High School

Quakers Hill High School

Richmond High School

Innovation in Technology Award of Excellence

Windsor Public School

 

See all the picture from the Awards and Exhibition Day on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/art4agriculture/

Something isn’t quite right in paradise

This week the milking cows are taking their morning feed (4am to 12 noon) in the paddocks in front of my house. I so look forward to this part of the grazing rotation which at this time of the year comes around every 14 to 18 days.

Now the cows seem to know I have a new camera and are doing their best to provide the rural idyll but this morning things were a little too perfect.

Firstly there was this

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that was fine. Then there was long lingering looks like this

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Then there was thousands (never let the facts get in the way of a good story) of looks like this

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Quick turn on of the tap at the kitchen sink confirms my suspicions lots of thirsty looking cows means broken water trough. Michael to the rescue once again

You are our hero Michael – shame about the shorts

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Creepy crawlies live in paradise too

I am a sixth generation farmer but I don’t like snakes, rats and spiders any more than your average city person

I grew up in NSW heartland and saw plenty of brown snakes that knew to keep well away from my father and his shotgun.

At Clover Hill there are no shotguns but plenty of red belly black snakes and no shortage of pythons including the one that has been living in the Illawarra Flame tree just outside my kitchen window scaring the bejesus out of my visitors when he/she suns him/herself on my front steps and my chooks 24/7

Chooks

Yesterday I was enjoying a freshly made latte with milk straight from the udder so to speak before joining my sister for a Foodscape Tour and looking out the kitchen window I spotted what was causing all the commotion in the chook pen

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Now I didn’t have time to take pictures of this snake let alone video footage ( yes I did that too) and then discover this snake was indeed stuck in the netting and in desperate need of rescue.

So who do you call?  WIRES of course and who was the best person for this job at this time? Michael of course. Though not happy that I thought he had more time than me to do this.

But its not just about time is it? In this case he was the person who could lend a hand if necessary (and there was no way in the world I was going to wear that hat) and besides I had a Foodscape Tour to join

So what happened to “Clover” the snake you ask. Yes Hugh from WIRES called our snake Clover

Find out if here if there is a happy ending for Clover

Hugh from WIRES and Clover our friendly python who ate too many rats at once–thank god it wasn’t my chickens

A picture paints a thousand words

When people ask me where I live I invariably reply I live in paradise and I am using this post as one of many to give you pictorial reasoning for this claim.

Clover Hill Dairies is located on two farms in the Jamberoo Valley the birthplace of the Australian dairy industry but more famous today as the place “where you control the action”

The home farm is located on the north east face of Saddleback Mountain in very steep rainforest country. In fact 50% of the farm is rainforest so when you run possibly the most intensive pasture based dairying operation in Australia and farm in this very precious environment you feel a huge responsibility to do what is right for the landscape, the cows and the wider community.

There is no denying it is a challenge but oh so worthwhile.

On Friday the cows where outside my house between the 4am and the 12 noon milking. My camera captured their noon stroll to the milking shed.

Paradise 101

  View from my front verandah. This becomes below when the cows move in.

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Michael begins the midday milking roundup

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There is no rush. Always time for a two way pose.

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And no shortage of cows with plenty of attitude. 1453 is called Mandelyn Storm Favourite and she looks like she has been in the good paddock a bit too long not that she is complaining.

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Michael has discovered why the cows are taking a bit longer than usual. There seems to be some silly woman standing in front of them taking pictures

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He just shakes his head and gives me one of his cheeky grins

The cows were back in the front paddock when I went to town the next day

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This is what I saw looking back on my house and the cows when I drove up Saddleback Mountain Rd.

Paradise – we are giving it a pretty good shot don’t you think?

There are so many ways to meet a farmer – Part 1

This week has been huge I have been everywhere but on farm ( hugs and kisses to the people who milk the cows. Thank god they don’t need to rely on me to wear that hat).

Yesterday was one of those blissful days where you come home elated (albeit very sunburnt. Note to self. Buy sunscreen for handbag)

What bought on this feeling of euphoria you ask? Well the answer to that is easy my sister Kerrie and I joined Jacqueline Weiley of Foodscape Tours on their South Coast Indulgence tour to Berry & Beyond.

Jacqueline Weiley is one of those wonderful people who not only wakes up everyday and says “I thank a farmer today” she spends her spare time spruiking regional farmers and produce far and wide in every way imaginable.

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Love your work Jac

Here is a little background from the Foodscape Tours website

With a shared passion for food and a friendship spanning over 17 years, Jacqueline and business partner Karen  launched Foodscape Tours in 2009 to acknowledge and celebrate regional food. Karen and her husband moved to Byron Bay in 2003 for a change of lifestyle. Karen saw an opportunity to leave a corporate marketing and communications career behind and follow one of her passions – food. She began working with a local food manufacturing company and soon became part of the growing Northern Rivers food industry.

Jacqueline began her marketing career working for a small consultancy offering marketing, public relations and distribution advice to gourmet food producers from Tasmania, igniting a life-long passion for food and quality produce. In 2009 she moved to the NSW South Coast to be closer to her family where she got to know the local producers. She soon discovered they were hungry to get involved with Foodscape Tours on the South Coast.

Since Jacqueline moved back to South Coast ( she still has the job that pays the bills in Sydney) I have had the absolute delight of working with her as part of  the South Coast Harvest Experience and 100 Mile Challengeteams

Kerrie and I were met in Gerringong at 8.30 am by Jac and her gorgeous dad Gordon who drives the bus

Our first port of call was to be the Berry Tea Shop where we sampled artisan teas in one of Berry’s most beautiful specialty retail stores

Owners Paulina and Cliff Collier say “Tea brings people together and has a beautiful sense of warmth and hospitality. It is something you can sit down with and enjoy with friends. There is also an important ritual around it – you are boiling the kettle, putting the leaves in the pot and letting it steep and, in our busy lives, it is something that brings you back to the present, even if just for 10 minutes of your day. And it’s great for your health – we should all drink to that!”

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Kerrie says I will drink to that

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Not only tea but every kind of tea pot and tea cup you could ever imagine

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Christmas pudding tea cosies to boot

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MMMMh interesting imagery on this tea pot

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and Cliff produced scones to die for

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Just ask Kerrie ( and I had two)

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Are you really buying all those things Kerrie?

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“Yes she is” says Paulina

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“Its Christmas and my friends and family deserve the best of the best” says Kerrie

Joining us on our Foodscape Tour was Penny Baker the new editor of South Coast Style Magazineand photographer Philip Atkinson.

How excited was I to be out and about with my new Canon camera and 70-300mm zoom lens ( about which I know nothing about both) and get to watch an expert photographer in action

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Kerrie and Jac with Penny and Philip from South Coast Style Magazine share tales of the Shoalhaven River with Neil from Riverside Strawberries 

Next stop was South Coast Providores. It was great to catch up with the dynamic duo that is Carole Rutta and Ian Grey of South Coast Providores. Ian and Carole have a “local” philosophy on food and source over 85% of their ingredients from local farmers and growers. They also sell local produce every Friday at their “Locavore Friday” market.

Carole also played a key role in the bringing the South Coast Harvest Experience to our region and she and Ian are another great example of the exciting sea changers who are moving to our region and using their considerable talents to promote local food and the people who grow it

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Kerrie’s friends are going to shout with glee when they see the South Coast Providores delicacies she bought for them and mine are going to tuck into roasted beetroot and red wine relish when they drop by for Christmas cheer and cheese

We then jumped back on the bus and took the road to Terrara where we would meet the first of the local producers Jo and Neil from Riverside Strawberries and Citrus.

But this story will have to wait until next time. First rule of blogging “keep your posts short and sweet” and you must admit this post had lots of sweets on offer

For information on Foodscape Tours contact. (I feel some gift vouchers coming on)

Jacqueline Weiley
Foodscape Tours

1300 502 100  |  0409 123 553  |  www.foodscapetours.com.au  |  www.facebook.com/foodscapetours
Members of The Hawkesbury Harvest – South Coast Harvest Experience & Northern Rivers Food

Hello World, Welcome to my world

My name is Lynne Strong and I am a woman with many, many hats. Some I wear better than others I readily admit.

The one I wear most proudly though is my farmer hat. I will be the first to admit it isn’t a hat that I saw myself wearing as a little girl.

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I grew up on a farm and even though I enjoyed being hands on in the day to day running of the farm and the lifestyle that comes with it the idea of being a farmer was most definitely not on my list of top 10 professions.

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

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Farming today is no walk in the park. 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.  My husband Michael, my son Nick and our farm team (and our cows) have put their hands up to take on the challenge and I want to work side by side with these extraordinary people.

So why write a blog. Well my family have been farming in the Jamberoo Valley on the South Coast of New South Wales since 1831 (and in Ireland and Scotland probably for centuries before that).  That is 7 generations of farming families and 180 years of blood sweat, tears, passion and commitment that have gone into what is now producing milk for 50,000 Australians everyday

That’s 180 years of great stories waiting to be told. And I knew from my interactions with our friends and neighbours that the community wanted to hear those stories.

They just needed the right vehicle. So Art4Agriculture was conceived and Art4Agriculuture has its own entire wardrobe of hats.

But people keep telling me there was still a gap missing, we need more farmers to share their stories to help provide the community with real farmers they can relate to.

Writing a blog is indeed a great way to open the door to our farms, share our ups and downs, the frustrations and challenges, the passion and commitment but most of all show the community that the faith they have in Australian farm produce is warranted.

I am writing this blog to join other inspiring farmers who are opening thier farmgates and help inspire other farming men and women to share their stories. To help show them the community does love farmers, that they do want to hear our stories but they maybe a bit concerned about modern farming practices and whether the way we farm today fits into their rural idyll.

Lets not forget farmers are people and not all people are perfect but there is a whole nation of Australian farmers who get up everyday and say “today I want to move one step closer to being being a perfect farmer”.

What is the definition of perfect farming? That’s the challenge – that’s the two way conversation I would like to have with my readers.

I will put this one out there as a definition this morning “We believe that responsible farming is not only about ‘doing the right thing’ but makes sense – for our animals, our landscape, our people and our communities”.

So lets start the conversation I invite my readers to write me a mission statement for their “perfect” farm