The Landholders in the JARR area range from 3rd generation farmers to recent 'tree changers'. Many have been committed to Landcare for most of their lives. The JARR project gives them an avenue to participate in something that is much larger than their properties - joining their efforts with those of their neighbours for the greater good of all.
Each of the landholders below have a unique story to tell.
David attended Melbourne University whilst studying Agriculture. Originally a beef and sheep farmer, he became a dairy farmer after he bought a dairy farm, share farmed it for a while and then he and Sue decided to milk the cows themselves. They did that for 14 years and it is now back to share farming.
His Stacey’s Bridge property is located on the site originally selected by his grandfather in 1882. His grandfather migrated from Scotland, first heading to the Bendigo area, where after 10 years he was driven out by drought and headed south to Gippsland to join his brother. David still values his Scottish heritage and has maintained the links though attendance at Highland games and his enjoyment of Scottish music.
Landcare may be 25 years old but David and wife Sue started caring for their land over 40 years ago. Having grown up with a love for the bushland surrounding his families property, David wanted to find a balance between productive farming and the environment. "I started thinking that some areas of the farm were better off being fenced off and preserved rather than being cleared". Not concerned about "the last blade of grass" David wanted the benefits of his Landcare work balanced with the performance of his dairy farm.
Long before it was common practice, David was fencing off waterways, protecting native vegetation, using sustainable water use practices and managing the retention of soil and nutrients on his farm. Fencing his water frontages, David saw the immediate benefits with regard to stock management and water quality. The recent bushfires have seen the protected remnant vegetation on David and Sue's property flourish. More recent revegetation work have transformed eroded river banks, which all adds to the satisfaction David receives from his hard work.
David has also had a long history of involvement with countless community organisations. His passion for the environment is obvious when you look at some of the organisations that David has been involved in. They include the Lands Department, Soil Conservation Authority, Corner Inlet Waterway Authority and Management Group, Gippsland Riparian Project, South Gippsland Bass Implementation Committee, Nooramunga Corner Inlet Project, YYLN JARR Project and the West Gippsland Catchment and Land Protection. Most people would struggle to have time to dedicate to all of these worthy agencies, but for a dairy farmer, it can only be from sheer dedication.
David has been an active member of the Albert River Landcare Group and served for a number of years on the JARR Steering Committe and the YYLN Board.
In 2011 he was awarded the YYLN "Individual Landcare Award". Judges of this award commented that "David practices what he preaches, shares his knowledge, and actively contributes to environmental improvement and enhancement. His winning of the Individual Landcare Award is a worthy acknowledgement of a lifetime of effort".
Bob Tatnell and Angie Bowen
When Bob Tatnell and Angie Bowen arrived at what was to become Gardenfarm, they knew that there was a challenge ahead from which they and their family would never emerge the same. How does a person fresh from the city come to realise that the fruit that seems to begin its life in 1 kilogram plastic bags, actually emerges miraculously from the earth, air and sun as it weighs down summer branches with a thousand examples?How could he or she know in advance the beautiful protective instincts and sociability of a cow, or that sheep are far from stupid or that a dog is truly a friend for life? These discoveries were just the beginning of a fundamental change for Bob and Angie.
Profoundly committed to developing their farm on the solid foundation of Permaculture (a sustainable way of life and farming developed by Bill Mollison in Tasmania in the 1970’s), Bob and Angie have been amazed at the results of their hard work and commitment.
Especially Bob, a poet at heart, is abundantly enthusiastic over his discoveries. He is in awe at the energy contained in a seed, the miracle of a grafted apple and the fact that plants often regarded as weeds performed pumping actions to extract minerals and water from the soil and nitrogen from the air for the benefit of the other, edible, plants.
He is thrilled to have discovered that meat quality depends on environment and contentedness, not weight and that a chicken has a myriad of vital farm functions; that slowing down water keeps it forever in the soil; and that wood is nature’s fertiliser.
In his quest to make Permaculture the core of his farming success he continues to ask critical questions -
He believes that “observation plays an enormous part in the development of a viable and sustainable small farm.” “But so does reading about and listening to the observations of others,” he adds. “How can it be that the green leaf is the only thing that is newly created in the universe? A big statement. And as the leaf falls and is re-incorporated into the the topsoil, new life is created from minerals from the deep and gases from the atmosphere. How could a farmer come to realise the true value of a tree?”
According to Bob, farmers are surrounded by limitless opportunities. Diversity really knows no bounds and food for farming families, their communities and others should never be under question.
Bob welcomes discussion around what works on his farm and is delighted when people show an interest in how he is progressing.
What Bob and Angie are discovering now, as their farm matures, with its trees, vines and bushes, its energy and plant and animal successions, more time is available and needed for the harvest phases. “And what could be better than that!” says Bob
If you ever happen to be out Hiawatha way he would be more than happy to show you his progress, his inventions and his truly delicious jams and jellies.
Rob and Jenny Davies
Rob and Jenny Davies' "Tarrawarra" is a truly impressive and unique farm. The 140 hectare farm supports a commercial cow and calf operation and has two kilometres of frontage to the Albert River on its northern boundary. Located at Alberton West, approximately 18 kilometres south west of Yarram, the feature of the property is its 8 hectare wetland, located in its centre.
In 1976 the Davies' bought the western part of the property before purchasing the eastern half 4 years later. "With our former lack of knowledge and appreciation of wetland ecology we have a history of draining wetlands in our past. With the "Tarrawarra" wetland once laying between two former dairy properties it is most likely its physical location that prevented this possible fate." When the wetland came under the Davies' ownership in its entirety, it underwent protection works that have transformed it into the wetland sanctuary it is today. Over twenty years ago it was fenced to prevent cattle access. This action saw water quality improve as well as vegetation naturally regenerate. Birdlife has since flourished with a wide range of species present including Pelican, Black Swan, Grebes, Herons, Coots, Ducks and many woodland species. This fencing project not only increased wildlife habitat but has given increased protection for stock.
Back in the 80's early signs of salinity were observed in an isolated paddock on the western side of the property. The Davies were quick to fence the area and they revegetated it with a mix of salt tolerant plant species. Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia) was one of the first species to naturally regenerate as well as Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) and Swamp Gum (Eucalyptus ovata). At the time, "Alcoa" was sponsoring saline affected sites by providing hybrid River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) tubestock, which was also added to the mix.
Rob and Jenny are active members of the Albert River Landcare Group and have been since it's inception over 25 years ago. In 1987, the late John Crew organised the author of "Wildlife in the Home Paddock", Roland Breckwoldt, to speak to their Landcare group. Members were inspired by his examples of practical wildlife conservation as part of productive farming and Jenny & Rob saw this as an opportunity for action. They learnt further skills from completing a Whole Farm Planning course.
Since then, Jenny has held both President and Secretary positions within the local Landcare group and for many years was on the YYLN Steering Committee. Her profession as a Teacher gave her a particular passion to encourage the YYLN to introduce support for environmental programs in local schools back in the 1990's. In 2007, Jenny was recognised for her dedicated work to Landcare and the environment by receiving an "Individual Landcare Award" by the Yarram Yarram Landcare Network.
Whilst Rob and Jenny have completed an enormous and significant project, they recognise that pest plant and animal control works are on-going. Removal or controlling Willows along their Albert River frontage is seen by them as being their biggest future challenge.
The Davies acknowledge the support and inspiration of their Landcare community and Government assistance. To date they have held several field days to hopefully inspire others to undertake protection and enhancement projects.
Demonstrating genuine stewardship values, we are fortunate to have dedicated members such as the Davies' family within our Landcare community.
The Webb Clan
Conservation is very much on the agenda at the Webb’s farm. "Though our large south-eastern paddock is very visible from the road, over half our land area is remnant / regrowth forest. This is an interesting reflection of our priorities - we like agriculture and are happy to call our place “the farm” but equally we have a deep love and respect of how mother nature runs things in her area."
Quite a lot of that regrowth area has benefitted from decades of benign neglect and is thriving, with little weed incursion and abundant fora and fauna. Up until recently it has been shielded by a 16 acre wedge of impenetrable blackberries on our North-Western boundary, near the old Jam Tin dam and PMG track. A few years back they re-established access tracks and funded blackberry spraying along the Southern aspect of that valley. Thanks to the JARR project funding and generous help from Yarram Yarram Landcare they have further rehabilitated this large area with more spraying and will be revegetating with eucalyptus seedlings this spring to augment the blackwood and wattle, and hopefully thicken the forest canopy. They have excluded stock from this area for over a year now and their aim is to help it return to something resembling benchmark flora for its location and aspect.
"We have HVP as neighbours on our Northern and Eastern boundaries. Northern is plantation Eucalypt and we have been advised it will be logged in 2014. We have approached them, asking for an extended buffer to be left along that boundary as it runs along ridges above some of our cool temperate rainforest valleys. They have expressed a willingness to do so and asked that we approach them again closer to the logging date, which we will do - armed with maps, documents and a risk assessment backing up our case. We feel it’s essential to maintain these buffers as we have seen a similar valley on our Eastern boundary dry out after the recent pine logging. "
The Wonyip Landcare Group’s Quoll corridor (on HVP’s land) currently terminates right up against the Webb's Southern corner (next to Turton’s track at Woorarra Road). "We’re currently cooking up a plan to fence and revegetate a corridor on our place along that South Western / Western border right up to our remnant bush. This would also connect the Quoll corridor to the HVP's eucalypt plantation at our rear which is part of Cores and Links ( a landmark decision between the Victorian Government and HVP to protect remnant rainforest) and should be revegetated after it’s logged in 2014. Our corridor plan will be prepared over the next few months and we plan to go hunting for some funding at that point."
"Our land title has 8 acres on the high side of the Woorarra road (below the Spittles). That has sadly devolved progressively into a bit of a mess but thanks to much vocal encouragement from local landowner and fellow member of the Wonyip Landcare Group, John Kosta, we are planning on addressing the appalling blackberry problem there and revegetating that also. It could form a useful link with our neighbors, the Spittles, revegetation and therefore through to the Dingo Creek “gorge” on their western side."