Fertilise the Tall Poppies

It’s that time of year when awards that celebrate our Australian farmers and the people who support them are opening for nominations.

As a person who has been lucky enough to win some of these awards and benefited greatly from the exposure they bring I have also witnessed the impact on my family of the pressure to “live up” to microscope they feel they are under.

Whilst the naysayers don’t interest me, I do understand when quiet achievers like my husband and son would prefer not to be in the spotlight. My son in particular finds the derogatory comments from some of the local farmers hard to take and I find that very sad.

I remember vividly attending the 2010 National Landcare Awards and being so excited when we won and then turning to my husband who said ‘You collect the award I don’t think what we do is any different to thousands of farmers across Australia’. But I knew differently, it’s not how you farm that counts, its how what you do translates into a community good benefit that counts.

I stood tall and proudly accepted because I knew what we did was something to be proud of.

My speech went something like this

Today most media in Australia generated around food is about cooking and eating, recipes and restaurants, with little attention paid to the origins of the key ingredients.

At Clover Hill Dairies we haven’t been fooled into thinking people don’t care.

We believe meeting or exceeding the community’s expectations to deliver affordable, nutritious and ethically produced food is doing the right thing by our business and our customers

There are plenty of Australian farmers committed to ethical food production… JUST AS WE ARE 

But there are some things we are equally passionate about that sets us apart

Beyond best farming practices we are dedicated to

  • Building lifelong relationships between city consumers and rural providers. Because it is these urban communities who will decide the future for primary produces either as consumers, governments and decision makers or as competitors for Australia’s natural resources and workforce. The next generation of consumers and decision makers must see responsible agricultural production as a legitimate use of land, water and other resources.
  • Encouraging and furnishing opportunities for young people to enter food value chain career pathways
  • Forging cross community partnerships to secure our social licence to operate and right to farm   

Winning this very prestigious award offers us the very best possible platform to build on this passion – thank you so much for opening this door

In 2013 I would make a very different speech and I would be less nervous because my journey since that night has been so exciting and so fulfilling and I have so much more confidence and met so many wonderful people who are sharing my journey. One thing that hasn’t changed is I would be just as proud.

Most excitingly there was some-one in the audience who heard me speak and believed in my Young Farming Champions concept and invested in it (thank you Ken)

I recently had an email from a young lady inspired by one of these young farming champions to take up a career in agriculture

It is absolutely beyond my wildest dreams to communicate with young farmers (of their nature) and have been so fortunate to be in brief contact with Richie Quigley after being sent his Art4Agriculture video and contacting him and being mentored by him towards the most appropriate university degree for me next year – his input has been invaluable.

We are far from perfect farmers but what our farm has done very well is to open the door to invite the next generation to visit and experience what we do which one of the Art4agriculutre Young Eco Champions Erin shows so beautifully here. 

 

We do need a new way of thinking about agriculture. We need farmers who are prepared to work beyond traditional boundaries and challenge the conventional thinking of primary industries and individuals.

We need a paradigm shift in thinking and a collaborative re-allocation of resources and responsibilities

We must be able to deploy agriculture’s young people like Richie and Erin into schools to build relationships with the next generation of consumers.

So if you know some-one who has a big picture vision for agriculture then nominate them for awards.

As an industry

‘we can inspire and motivate and galvanise our people or we can ridicule and sap energy from them. Its our choice’  Derek Antoncich

Lets celebrate our farmers sharing their stories beyond the farm gate

Nominate some-one you know today 

Farmer of the Year Awards http://www.farmingahead.com.au/FarmerOfYear

Young Eco Champion Erin Lake reports from Bush Blitz Hiltaba

You will remember the gorgeous Eco Warrior Erin Lake was lured to Canberra earlier in the year to take up a graduate position with Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

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Back here on the farm we all thought she would be gobbled up and spat out by the bureaucracy and how wrong we were. Erin has had a wonderful time. In fact she has now got a permanent position in Canberra and she couldn’t be happier. 

Last week she was lucky enough to be a part of the 16th Bush Blitz expedition to the Gawler Ranges in South Australia, as part of the Graduate program with the Department of Sustainability and Environment (SEWPaC) and today in her guest blog she shares many of the highlights from her trip 

November 2012 ………

The Hiltaba and Gawler Ranges Bush Blitz is the second for the year, and is being run for two weeks in total. My role was to help organise the field logistics, participant contracts and payments, and to assist as a field officer during the expedition. After months of planning and organisation we finally hit the road, and headed 8 hours north-west of Adelaide to a remote former sheep station in the Gawler Ranges!

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Hiltaba Station is a 77,000 hectare property in South Australia’s Arid Zone

The Bush Blitz crew arrived at the station last Sunday, and have been helping the team of scientists settle into the campsite for two whole weeks of intensive survey work.

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Luxury accommodation…. The Bush Blitz camp and shearer’s quarters

While this property has only recently been converted from a sheep station to a conservation reserve, many of the scientists have commented on the exceptional diversity of unique species and habitats that this majestic property contains within. Peter Lang from the SA Herbarium says that the Bluebush plains here at Hiltaba are a real treasure because they are often converted into cropping or grazing land making it difficult to find large areas in such good condition.

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Expansive Bluebush Plains- in good nick

 

Creatures Great and Small discovered on Bush Blitz Hiltaba

Hiltaba Station’s location adjacent to the Gawler Ranges National Park significantly adds to its ecological value, because it provides another jigsaw piece within the East Meets West NatureLinks wildlife corridor.

Greg Johnston, a leading ecologist with the Nature Foundation of South Australia, says that the Hiltaba Bush Blitz provides a unique opportunity to gain a specialised understanding of the species occurring on the property, which will significantly assist in the management of the unique biodiversity of the area.

Greg has been an amazing host, and has been working alongside the scientists daily to assist them in gathering information that can then be used to feed back into the ongoing management of the property in the future. Here he is with vertebrate expert Dave Stemmer from the SA Museum- looking at the three different species of bat which had been collected that morning.

 

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Greg Johnston (left) from the Nature Foundation SA and Dave Stemmer (right) from the SA Museum are very happy to be back in the field

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Going batty- Four individuals of three different species in one morning! Not a bad start and really highlights the amount of diversity which occurs in the area- no wonder Greg and Dave have such happy faces!

Mammals are only one part of the Bush Blitz experience however, and John Stanisic will tell you that it is always important to scratch the surface. John is one of Australia’s leading land snail experts and is known across the country as the Snail Whisperer. You may have heard of the Steve Irwin snail Crikey steveirwini ? Well it was John who named this snail after the late wildlife warrior, and he says that the story of the naming went around the world in 48 hours! That’s hot press for the slow moving sluggers!

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According to John, Hiltaba station contains a very diverse range of snail species, supporting the full suite of species that occur in the region, and he has already found 10 different species.

While they are not usually recognised as particularly charismatic species, John explains that snails are crucial for local ecosystems and actually have quite interesting ecologies. They predominantly live in sheltered rock piles where there is a long-term stable moisture regime and have a number of strategies to improve their chance of survival. They are able to excrete what is called an ‘epiphragm’ which is a mucous shield, protecting them in times of drought. Snails are also important indicators of environmental health, and provide play a major role in breaking down organic material in the soil.

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10 species of land snails have been found at Hiltaba- representing the full complement of the local fauna

John’s favourite snails are the large banded tree snails which are brilliantly coloured. There are around 30 different species and they live in the rainforest around Mackay and Proserpine.

Short range endemisim for snail species is very high as you can imagine, and some species are thought to only occur in ranges of around a couple of hectares, which means that whole species can be easily wiped out if proper precautionary measures aren’t taken to protect them. John’s findings at Hiltaba have added another 8 species to the current list of snails recorded for the Station.

Creepy crawlies are coaxed out of the woodwork at Hiltaba!

One of my less favourite things encountered on my Bush Blitz journey so far has been the spiders! The weather has been particularly good for spider hunting and luckily I had spider expert Barbara Baehr by my side to help me get around my arachnophobia while photographing them! Barbara is an absolute treasure to work with, and came all the way from Germany to study some of Australia’s most feared creatures.

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Barbara is primarily interested in the Lycosidae family which are the wolf spiders, and Opopaea – the Goblin spiders. She has even named one after Sir David Attenborough and got to present a framed specimen to him earlier this year!

Barbara has spent many hours at Hiltaba sorting though the leaf litter looking for tiny spiders to observe under the microscope. She has also been probing sticks into giant holes in the ground and ‘tickling out’ enormous trap door spiders. She is able to catch them quite comfortably and refers to them as ‘darlings’- most certainly not the description I would give them…

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Under the microscope- spiders are Barbara’s specialty

Who said that Fishing was bore-ing?

I was fortunate enough to go out for a day in the field collecting groundwater samples from a number of bores at Hiltaba Station, looking for tiny creatures which live in the groundwater. These ‘stygofauna’ could be tiny worms, molluscs or crustaceans and are usually blind. Stygofauna experts Remko Leijs and Rachel King showed us how to collect the samples and then we took them back to the lab to see if there were any stygofauna swimming around under the microscope. clip_image024

Fishing is not my strongpoint at the best of times- now i have been really put to the test- fishing for creatures that are millimetres in length!

The Hiltaba Bush Blitz has enabled the first stygofauna to be collected from the region, and so far Remko and Rachel have found worms and molluscs, meaning that the groundwater here is still in great condition.

Remko is also one of Australia’s top native bee experts, and was kind enough to show me some of the Hiltaba collections under the microscope.

So far, 26 species of native bees have been surveyed at Hiltaba from just one flowering Eucalypt, I had no idea that there were so many different species!

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This native bee (I call him Lego man bee) has been mounted and will be taken back to the SA Museum

Remko explained that there is still not a great deal known about Australia’s native bees and there are not many people in Australia who are studying them. Bees are a difficult subject to study, as you can imagine it is very hard to count the populations. They are collected by sweeping a net over the flowering parts of trees and shrubs

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It is tough being a bee sometimes…

There are 1500 species which have been described, however in the last 30 years there has been a lot of revisions and of the 500 that have been revised, around half have been found to be new species.

To revise a species, you need to first obtain the holotype- which is the specimen that was used to first describe a new species. Many of the holotypes are held by international museums such as the British Museum, so obtaining them adds a further level of complexity to an already complex process.

Remko’s favourite bee is the Blue Banded Bee as you can see it is very beautiful, and he has dedicated a lot of research into studying the populations. Remko is also looking into how Australia’s horticultural industry can utilise these native bees for pollination, rather than relying on importing foreign honey bees.

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Bee-autiful, the Blue Banded Bee collected from Hiltaba Bush Blitz

A botanical paradise of flowers and fruits

I have been lucky enough to go out surveying with the Botanists from the South Australian Herbarium, doing a big loop around Hiltaba station’s north eastern corner. Peter Lang from the Herbarium is exceptionally knowledgeable about the local plants, having worked in the SA’s successful Biological Survey program -which set out to collect baseline data on the plant communities right across the state.

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Peter Lang presses specimens for the Herbarium

Hugh Cross is a genetic biologist and is also a lichen and moss expert, and today we managed to collect a number of different species of lichen to be examined back in the lab. clip_image034

Hugh collecting lichen from this Western Myall (Acacia papyrocarpa) tree, which is probably around 200 years old

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These colourful lichen specimens will go back to the lab for further analysis

Hugh and I also went looking for parasitic plant specimens such as Exocarpus and Santalum (Quandong). We collected a small sample from a number of individual trees in an area, and these samples will be taken back to the lab to test their DNA. Hugh and his associated back at the Herbarium are interested in finding out whether neighbouring parasitic trees are ‘clones’ and have the exact same DNA, or whether there is any genetic variation amongst the populations. Genetic analysis of plants and other tissues is certainly progressing full steam ahead. Hugh says that “Genetic analysis of the soil has allowed us to discover a wealth of hidden diversity beneath the ground”. It is a fascinating ecology that we usually just step over.

Juergen Kellermann also accompanied us on our botanical mission across Hiltaba. Originally from Germany, i was astounded by Juergen’s knowledge of Australian flora (not to mention his exceptional navigation skills!). He was very excited to find numerous populations of Stenanthemum arens, which is a member of the Rhamnaceae family of plants (the buckthorns).

The (Sten-an-them-um) is an endemic species and has only been found in areas around Hiltaba station. While it may not be much to look at, it is a very important indicator of the health of Hiltaba’s arid vegetation communities, showing us that they are able to provide refuge for a unique and diverse range of species.

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Juergen gets a closer look at the Stenanthemum arens

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One of my personal favourite botanical finds was this Ptilotus (tie- lotus) species, which is similar to the Foxtails that you would plant in your garden. Such beautiful colours and a very delicate flower.

Bush Blitz is a biodiversity discovery program between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia which aims to document the plants and animals across Australia’s National Reserve System.

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Splendour in the Rainforest

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.

Erin Lake with the support of Tay Plain from Clearcut Productions and Ann Burbrook have created this superb video to show you the magnificent  outcomes .

 

It is so rewarding to have played a role in this fantastic project

I documented the journey in an earlier post which I have reproduced here

 

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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 indicates 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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Well done Erin

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.

IMG_7909

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

Fountaindale Dam 10001

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.

Siannon CtG 0008

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.

IMG_6357

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.

IMG_0230

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.

IMG_7821

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

IMG_7886

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.

IMG_7903

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

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

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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

Erin Lake and Jake Proust  Clover Hill Dairies Bush Regeneration team

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!