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Community gets behind farmland restoration

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Sustainable Agriculture

After applying for the Wheatbelt NRM Growing Ground Cover Small Grant last year, Nicole and Nathan Coleman, with neighbour and co-grant recipient Anita Davey, recently each had 500 seedlings arriving.  They teamed up with the Toodyay Landcare and Grazing Group to create a community event to share their vision for their properties, based on principals of permaculture and regenerative agriculture.

The result was an open community day held on farm, where locals could come along, plant some trees, meet like minded souls and partake of local produce. Twenty seven people of all ages attended and listened to a discussion about small landholding sustainability from Wheatbelt NRM Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Jacquie Lucas.

Nicole says ”I admit to feeling guilty that so many people turned up to help us, but hearing the conversations around me all day it seems there is so much enthusiasm for farming in a way that enhances and regenerates the environment, it goes well beyond one family, or one property.”

Both families manage their 10 acre West Toodyay properties running a small herds of mixed livestock.  They keep stock numbers low to ensure ground cover is maintained throughout the year.  The properties slope down to the Avon River.  The country is steep and characterised by semi cleared pasture and rocky outcrops.  It is therefore potentially an erosion risk, so maintaining good cover is vital to protect precious top soil and prevent run off into the river system.

“Our primary purpose in applying for the grant was to boost the biodiversity of the land, reduce the prevalence of unwanted weeds, and increase of feed availability. Hopefully this will lead to less reliance on handfeeding and reduced grazing pressure on existing shrubs during the summer months.”

“We also wanted plants that would provide habitat for native wildlife including visiting black cockatoos.”

With help from Wheatbelt NRM the neighbours extensively researched livestock-palatable species that were endemic or naturalised to our region.  Species were selected from different stories, including ground cover (eg pig face, creeping grevilleas), shrubs (such as bottlebrush, saltbush), mid-size, fast growing trees (acacias, she oaks and tagasaste) and large canopy trees (wandoo, York gum) to recreate the type of natural bushland that would have existed prior to clearing.

The Wheatbelt NRM Growing Ground Cover Small Grant was funded through the National Landcare Program Phase 2.

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Published eNews 381, July 2023.