By Joël Dunn. Thanks to a grant from Local Land Services, Landcarers from across the Mid Coast were treated to an epic farm tour on Friday 26 May, inspired by the Australian National University’s Sustainable Farms’ “10 ways on farms”.
A crew from the Manning were picked up from Taree early by a small bus, and met a big bus and a crew from the Great Lakes at Bulahdelah. 55 tourers took off in Caspar The Friendly Coach to our first stop, Peppercorn Anchorage at The Branch in the Karuah River catchment. Rod Zemanek gave an overview of his water harvesting, landscape hydrating system of dams and swales, his recent project to protect dams, waterways and wetlands, his philosophy of retaining and enhancing native vegetation, and his Managed Intensive Grazing system that sees stock moved daily and pastures receive a 90-day rest period.
We then headed back towards Bulahdelah, starting our visit to Yeo Farm Bulahdelah in the Myall Lakes catchment, with a choice morning tea baked by Hardwood Espresso. Andrew Yeo had already talked through detailed explanations of his management of diverse areas of the farm on the bus, using a very helpful recent drone aerial of the farm marked with paddock ID codes. Yeo farm is a small but intensively managed farm, providing retail sheep meat to the local market and running a small Australian White sheep stud, selecting for resilience to coastal pressures such as parasitic worms. We saw how remnant vegetation and riparian areas were protected and connected, and the strategic use of native tree shelter belts.
The final leg of the tour took us to Great Lakes Paddocks, at Wootton in the Wallis Lake catchment. With rain bearing down on us, we took shelter in the farm’s sheltered indoor-outdoor function centre, surrounded by towering native riparian vegetation on both sides, and sat down to a fine local food lunch courtesy of Chef Sara. The weather stopped us from wandering out around the farm, but Steve Atkins gave us a rundown of the projects they have carried out over the years, protecting their substantial stretch of the Coolongolook River, Kearns Creek and their confluence.. Steve described his passion for sharing the farm, particularly the natural areas, with the community – their integrated business incorporates a winery and concerts and functions into a sustainable grazing enterprise.
Plenty of good folks, good food, good chats and a diversity of sustainable farming inspiration made for a memorable day out.