Producing, Employing, Sustaining, Conserving … and it’s a Farm

We were proud to host a recent farm field day at Sutton Grange and on our property last month.

The focus was on biodiversity and production, and how it is possible to manage the land for the benefit of both of these elements; to sustain the environment, farmers, and communities.

We were also thrilled that Connecting Country and the North Central Catchment Management Authority worked together and with us and several other local farms to create the day, which saw around 70 attentive and engaged participants listen, walk, question and talk about what it means to be a productive, diverse and biodiverse, farming enterprise. All this on a very cold and wet, very wintery (but very welcome) central Victorian day.

Along with Katie from Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens, Mandy (Guildford Winery), John (JCB Honey), Ben (Farm Forest Growers of Victoria), Sam (Sidonia Road Organics) and Clare (Pig in a Box), we talked about the road thus travelled; what it means to be a farmer in the current climate, how we have diversified and value added, and what it takes to be sustainable on an economic, environmental and also a social level.

A lot in a day, and that’s not even mentioning the farm walks!

Carla and Ann-Marie:

“The farm field day was an important milestone for us, the connection and importance of our farming enterprise and the preservation and care of the natural world together with Connecting Country and the North Central Catchment Management Authority.

This was an opportunity to highlight some of the challenges we face in our farming life, erosion, water and weed management and some of the work we do to mitigate these issues. We have great respect for the natural aspects of this land and are humbled to be the custodians here for a short while.

Other producers highlighted the resilience required to farm, how to imagine outside the square and overcome some extreme situations. We feel lucky to be part of this farming community.”

Krista Patterson-Majoor:

“Carla and Ann-Marie have used all the tools available to the nature conscious farmer – protecting remnant vegetation with a Trust For Nature covenant, fencing-off waterways, native pasture management, and biodiverse shelterbelts. We thank Carla and Ann-Marie for their generosity in sharing it with all of us”.

Mandy Coulson:

“A collaborative partnership between Connecting Country and the North Central CMA saw participants share and learn from a host of local sustainable, biodiverse and viable producers. Coupled with the official launch of the soil health guide for north central Victoria, participants embraced the wealth of ideas and inspiration, with many keen for more like minded days”.

Our farm walks aimed to show participants the issues we have been working on and thinking about since we took up the land in 1999. This includes maintaining and promoting our native grasses through pasture cropping, dealing with gully erosion, spiny rush removal using scalping and revegetation with suitable species, understorey replenishment with long-lost species such as Silver Banksia and Tree Violet, and looking after our land during drought using containment areas. Many, if not all, of these topics you will read about on earlier blog posts.

You can read a report about the day from the CMA’s perspective here. And from Connecting Country here.

Thanks to both of those organisations, plus presenters Gerry Gill, Tanya Loos and Ian Higgins, Krista Patterson-Majoor (and for the photos, despite the wet) and Mandy Coulson who shared their knowledge about the cultural, indigenous and ecological aspects on our farm.

We hope that participants went home as energised and inspired as were were by the conversations and connections. We also hope this is the start of more discussions about the Nature of farming.