Supporting drought-affected communities
Supporting drought affected communities A booklet of photos and stories from people in the Maryborough with Avoca Parish community talking about strengths and resilience.
Project development This project is the result of a community engagement strategy that aimed to provide a community connection in the drought-impacted region of the Maryborough with Avoca Anglican Parish. The stories from farmers, schools, businesses, gardeners and community groups inform and inspire us of the unique and shared ways they have managed through such harsh and unforgiving dry conditions. The method of Focus on Community was used to develop the project. A team of local people keen to learn photography were introduced to the principles of good picture taking. Their task was to then explore the theme of drought and to connect with people they knew who had been impacted by drought, to photograph them and to collect their stories. We hope these connections will continue and will remind people of the support available to them within their communities.
Acknowledgements The generous contributions from the people in these pages are so very much appreciated. Your personal journeys and stories of innovation and hope are inspiring. Anyone reading this could draw much strength from your words. We also acknowledge that in many instances those so harshly impacted by drought have also been dealt a further blow by floods. Such is the erratic nature of our climate. And such is the unstoppable power of strong communities that lean to each other for stability, shared experiences and a helping hand. Thanks also to the participating photographers. Your local knowledge and connections make this sort of project genuine, heart-felt and personal. You are: John Attwood, George Nagy, Raylene Nagy, Marg Pilgrim, Clint Robins, Carl Rusbridge, John Tully and Rhys van der Hulst. And photo contributions from Alison Cheater, David Clark, Georgina Driscoll, Bridget Epworth, John Tully, Ebony Mills and Emma Remilton. 3
Contents and people involved in the project Project development
Hayden Pilgrim, Homebush
Les & Joy Solomano, Talbot
Doug Keith, Elmhurst
Jim & Sandra Field, Maryborough
Rhys van der Hulst, Dunolly
Brian Rich, Maryborough
Ian Robertson, Moorloot Landcare Group
Fiona Glover, Barkly
Amanda Cramerie, Maryborough
Win Pickering, Avoca
Brenda Cheers, Maryborough
People involved in the project John Tully, Carisbrook
Greg & Heather McNeilly, Talbot
Craig Watts, Barker Trailers, Maryborough
Ian Boucher, Carisbrook Fire Brigade
Martin Mackay, Maryborough Croquet Club
Bridget Epworth, Hayley Wardlaw & Abbey Parker, Avoca Netball Club
Maryborough Education Centre & Maryborough Swimming Pool
Amphitheatre Primary School
Elmhurst Primary School
Moonambel Primary School
Pyrenees Shire Council
Photo by Marg Pilgrim
t has been many years since I have stood amongst an oat crop like this! The extended drought has meant that cropping has not been an option on our farm for a long time.
We’ll linger a little longer! Hayden Pilgrim, Homebush
When my wife and I built our home in Homebush 25 years ago we had 160 acres and ran 300 merino wethers. We were both teaching and raising a young family, so although farming was our first love it took second place for many years. As the years passed we bought more land and started breeding our own sheep, which meant we also had to start cropping and baling hay to provide feed during the summer months. This was not a problem in the early years as the rain was reliable and plentiful – sometimes too much as we turned, and turned and turned again the hay bales to try and dry them out. The last 15 years have seen a dramatic decline in the yearly rainfall, with crops barely able to poke their heads out of the ground, let alone have the baler find enough grass or crop to bale. The constant daily ritual of carting water and feeding out seemed to start earlier each year and extend later into the next year. In the latter years, there were times when we considered leaving it all behind and retiring to a house block in Echuca. But where would I put the ute and trailer, the tractor and the truck? There was no way I could leave any of those behind, I might just need them one day. Last year the rains returned and so too did the magnificent growing season … I think we’ll linger a bit longer at “Watlington”.
Photo by George & Raylene Nagy
G Adapting and diversifying Les & Joy Solomano, Talbot
oing back to January 24th 1985, we always grew Lucerne and clover and always pressed more bales than we used in the following year and we were able to sell quite a lot of bales. When the fire burnt our farm, together with all our haysheds with 18 thousand bales of hay, the seasons seem to change after that. We were barely able to bale enough hay and grow enough oats for the following season. We used to have 2,000 or more sheep and we gradually reduced the number down to 1,500, which meant we weren’t over stocked when the drought finally came. But even then, we had to buy in feed (something we’d never done before). We had to keep our stock fed with hope that the drought would not go on forever and we would have sheep to carry on with. We knew that stock would be very dear when the season came good. This year it looks as though we will have good quality clover to bale, which is something we haven’t had for many years. The drought came on gradually and we learned to cope with it as the time went on. The fire on January 24th 1985 was a different set up, when it happened in 24 hours we had all our fences burnt and they had to be replaced. Over the years we concentrated on enlarging our dams and getting more built in the wet years, which really helped to get us through the dry. Even though the dams were getting low, we were never really short of water for the stock and we had plenty of tank water for the house. Over the years we weren’t big spenders and we always managed to put money away, so that helped us when the drought came. However, the drought did reduce our income, but we didn’t get government drought relief like some of the ‘big’ farmers.
Photo by John Attwood
O Never considered leaving Doug Keith, Elmhurst
ur family business was started by my great grandfather in 1870 with a â€˜selectionâ€™ at Glenlogie. It is run by my son, myself and some input from my two grandsons, aged 14 and 10, who are the sixth generation to be involved. My working life here started in 1964 and has included three droughts. 1967-68 was an 18 month dry spell notable for warm dry winter weather and unusually dry autumns and springs. The workforce consisted of my father and uncle and three farmhands. We bought in oats and fed stock daily, as well as carting in water. We did not have to de-stock. 1982-83 was quite a short but extreme drought of a near total lack of winter and spring rain. During November a massive hail storm destroyed any spring feed we had. In places the hail was a metre deep and damaged some fencing. Strangely we had ewes lambing and lost no lambs. Our workforce then was my father, myself and one farmhand. The first decade of the 2000s was dryer than average, but 2006 was extreme. We ran out of water in most dams so were continuously carting water and feeding stock every day. By this time we had greatly increased our cropping area and had all our silos full as well as sufficient silage and hay on hand. We had a good autumn break in May 2007 and again did not have to de-stock. The workforce was my son and I. While these periods have been ones of constant hard work and higher stress, we have never considered leaving the industry. Farm labour is now almost non-existent but the fact that we are now so mechanised overcomes this. We now have a practice of having a surplus fodder on hand to cover future drought periods. Another interesting fact about the most recent drought is that livestock became more valuable as time passed, rather than losing value.
Photo by John Attwood
M Coping and decisions Sandra & Jim Field Maryborough
y husband Jim was a third generation farmer, taking over the Mia-Mia farm at Amherst after the death of his father in 1971. We married in 1972 and so began our ‘love affair’ with the land, one that would bring us great joy and satisfaction, most importantly watching our children grow up and enjoy working together. I rejoiced at how lucky we were to have part of God’s earth to care for and improve. And I looked to Him for help, comfort and guidance in the tough times – 1985 fires that ravaged our farm, falling wool prices, increasing production costs, ongoing lack of rain and the increasing overdraft. And Jim worked tirelessly to find ways to farm better under the drought conditions. 1999 was an important year for us all. As a family we sat down and talked about our future on the farm. It was time to face reality – the drought was still here and we couldn’t do anything more to improve the farm and our situation, given the drought and government policies at the time. We were fortunate to have off-farm jobs so making a decision was slightly easier. The children said, “Dad, we are happy for you to sell the farm”. All through that year I was upheld by the words “Be still and know that I am God”. We left the farm so proud of what we had achieved. We hadn’t failed. It was time to take the next road on life’s journey. It is one that still sees Jim teaching wool classing and helping the next generation of young farmers and myself finding the way ahead within the school and church community, with the complete support and love of our family. We have wonderful memories of good times on the farm and working together in tough times. I closed the gate for the last time, the words “My peace I leave with you” echoed over the Mia-Mia.
Self portrait by Rhys van der Hulst
verything was really dry for so long that when it rained all the rain that we got soaked into the ground. I tried doing a u-turn in the tractor and got bogged!
My family is really supportive Rhys van der Hulst & family (L-R) Malcolm, Rhys, Naomi, Jake & Imogene, Dunolly
I like being hands-on and working on the farm. Mum and Dad help me out a lot. When we had a long period of drought, feedinng stock was hard. Dad always comes and helps with the posts and wire when fencing, and Mumâ€™s good with making me a cup of tea in the morning! My brother is the welder in the family and heâ€™s mechanically-minded so he helps with managing the breakdowns on the farm. My sister Imogene likes the animals and sheâ€™s artistic and likes taking pictures. My family is really supportive. Whenever I think things are getting too hard and I just want to give up, they back me up and help and talk me back around.
Photo by George & Raylene Nagy
I The effect of the drought on beekeeping Brian Rich, Maryborough
n recent months it’s been said, “Hah, beekeepers are having a ‘bumper’ year with all this rain!”. If only life as an apiarist were that simple! As with all primary industry, too little or too much rain will have a dramatic impact on honey production now and in the years ahead. When these conditions are longer lasting, the consequences can be far-reaching. Apiarists depend largely on flowering eucalypts for honey production, supplemented with ‘ground flora’, eg. Cape weed, clovers and Patterson’s curse. This introduced flora is the first to succumb to extreme dry conditions. Eucalypts on the other hand have evolved to adapt and survive harsh Australian conditions and will produce nectar under climatic stress. However certain varieties also succumbed to dry conditions, so severely in some areas that the trees were dying along dry creeks and rivers. Beekeeping in Australia is a migratory occupation and transporting apiaries across Victoria and interstate is the ‘norm’. When severe drought occurs, we are required to seek out locations in which the best nectar and pollen production will occur. As the drought years worsened, areas previously known as ‘prolific honey producing locations’ became both unreliable and unproductive. This created a need to locate and shift to areas less severely affected. The dry conditions have also affected the length of time a ‘honey season’ would normally extend and with the prolonged drought this pattern was significantly shortened. Aside from the effects on honey production, tinder dry areas of Victoria meant that apiarists were under greater threat of succumbing to bush fire. Many thousands of hives have been lost through forest fires in the extended drought. As honey production fell in the drought years, Australia began to import honey rather than export, as it had previously done. Well above average rainfall this season has seen the end of a long period of drought. We now look forward to a return to good honey producing seasons as the climatic conditions become more favourable for our industry.
Photo by Deanna Neville
T It’s great having birds Ian Robertson Mooloort Landcare Group
here’s a number of treeless swamps around here and the one known as Robertson’s swamp was so dry last year that we decided to put a 7,000 gallon tank and a 30 metre trough on it for birds to have a drink. There was no water in any of the swamps and a lot of the holes had gone dry. There were very few holes where stock or anything could get water so we had bores here from the creek and filled water troughs for the birds. When I took my grandson up there to the swamp a couple of eagles were right there on the fence. When they left, the smaller birds came to drink, including kookaburras, galahs, cockies, parrots, magpies, crows and the plovers. There’s not been as many ducks compared to when it’s wet; there’s usually hundreds of ducks. Then all the swamps went dry, as well as the creeks, and it’s been like that for years. Mooloort Landcare is into tree planting and rehabilitation, and we fenced off an area up here. We gave them water from our irrigation to put in an area and it’s thick with trees now. It’s a very active group and trees are very important to us, including Box and Ironbark which are natural to our country. But the treeless swamps have no trees at all and it’s mostly very small birds that frequent them. Cranes come too and swans that prefer the treeless swamps for nesting in preference to the ones with trees. And there are a lot of owls, as the drought didn’t seem to affect them in their nesting hollows. The trough was in place there the whole time of the drought and the birds would all come back to drink. It’s great having the birds and on occasion the rare ones.
Photo by Marg Pilgrim
L We danced for joy! Fiona Glover Barkly Lavender & Rose Farm Barkly
avender and grapevines were the first plantings made in 1994 on our property at Barkly. The paddock had previously been cleared of mullock heaps: this was part of the gold lead that formed the Navarre diggings in the 1860s. Planting into pipe clay and bits of quartz stone was a new experience for a Melbourne gardener like me! But the plants seemed to tolerate these conditions and it wasn’t long before we had to put in trellising and rabbit proof fencing as we expanded the crop. Then roses were established and they bloomed in the summer sun – didn’t have to use insecticides, only had to control the weeds along the edge of the rows. Those first eight years or so were good and productive years. We had winter rains and the creek flowed. We dug up more beds and soon we had 20 rows of mixed crop. The vines and roses were watered but there was enough spring rain to keep the lavender growing right through the summer. Then the weather pattern changed and we experienced severe frosts – one winter the roses were burnt to the ground by frost. Lavender bushes started to wither in summer’s drying winds and we ran out of dam water by January and couldn’t water anything. We almost ran out of water for the house but then it rained on New Year’s Eve and we danced for joy! But looking at the paddock today you would never know. Frequent rains all year have replenished the dams and the soil – and the roses are blooming the best I’ve ever seen. They are being picked fresh for selling at markets: soon the lavender will be in full flower. A wonderful bounty to compensate for those lean years.
Photo by John Attwood
M The philosophy of life Amanda Cramerie Maryborough
y first experience of drought and the imbalance it creates was in 1970. As a young woman growing up in a rural family, I experienced how the lack of water impacts explosively. Dying stock, dry troughs and failed crops; trees, shrubs and flowers struggling in the garden. The life palette changes from lush abundance and diverse expression to nothing but dusty brown death. During the first decade of the new millennium we began to experience ten long years of drought and this has sought to test us all. The pulse of life through our connection to water was changed dramatically. We faced very tough water restrictions then we could not water our gardens at all. Water from the house was recycled into the garden, toilets were no longer flushed with every visit, endless bucketing kept precious plants alive. This experience wounded the very essence of us all. This war between the individual, nature and the Water Board prompted a very intense and life changing reaction - I refused to let these forces take away the plants which were so integral to the interplay of self and nature. We installed five tanks and planned an expanded fruit orchard and vegetable garden. It was a time to look at the philosophy of life - how to be healthy and sustained from our own environment; the importance of herbs, fruit, vegetables and healing; the reclamation of healthy skin from showering in clean, unadulterated water; soil nutrition and biodynamic sustainable practices. These life changing procedures now firmly entranced in my circadian activity. I am reminded that true freedom and creative joy arises from working with nature, water being the life blood that cements the soil, seeds, plants, flowers and us together and I comprehensively understand the importance of water in our lives.
Photo by Marg Pilgrim
hen my late husband and I moved into our new home that backed onto the Maryborough golf course, we began establishing yet another garden, our sixth in 47 years.
Now for a smaller garden! Win Pickering, Avoca
From the beginning, we battled the emerging drought and as the years passed there were many seasons when we struggled to grow a few vegies, and maintain a lawn and more exotic shrubs. In the latter years, severe water restrictions meant my only option for watering was to use shower and washing water, which was bucketed onto the most important and precious plants in the garden. No more lawns … and many plants didn’t survive the soapy water. I reorganised the garden to include rocked garden beds, I mulched where ever possible and purchased another rain water tank which provided limited watering. A garden has always been important to me whether it be for vegies or flowers. The many years of the drought and advancing years, have taken their toll on my efforts to maintain the garden. What a joy to be able to hold a hose again and see it now looking so green, fresh, healthy and productive. It’s a little sad to be selling it after all those difficult years, but I hope the new owners will be able to build on my humble attempts. Now for my seventh garden … a smaller, more drought tolerant one in my new unit in Avoca.
Photo by Carl Rusbridge
D All living things Brenda Cheers Carawah Wildlife Shelter Maryborough
rought affects all living things, wildlife is no exception. Since the extreme dry weather conditions began over ten years ago, I have seen a change in the number of wildlife of all species coming into care. Overall they have increased but numbers of some species have gone up, others have gone down. In some of the dry years – particularly hot spring and summer seasons – there has been fewer kangaroo/wallaby joeys; this is most likely due to lack of food and water which causes the adult females to delay the birth of a joey. She may, under extreme circumstances, eject a pouch joey. This is very rare. Bird numbers and species have changed dramatically during the dry years. Ask any bird watchers, they will relate the many species no longer seen locally as well as the species that have moved into our area from their own localities searching for their natural food. Little water means less food for wildlife. In our local area I have seen an increase in the number of juvenile birds who arrive for care in an emaciated condition, often too late to save, this can be caused because parents abandon some of their just fledged clutch of young and concentrate on feeding the strongest bird. Providing enough food to rear strong healthy animals can be a challenge at times. I have to make certain the species being cared for recognises its natural food and can gather it. I have to know its available and where it is. There’s been an increase of community awareness about the animal shelter. More animals are brought in as a result of drought, which in turn increases awareness. Talks at community organisations like Rotary also help increase the shelter profile. In the meantime the garden has died but I won’t worry about that when there isn’t enough food or water for native animals.
Photo by John Tully
T The Djadja wurrung and drought John Tully, Carisbrook
he Djadja wurrung Aborigines of Central Victoria were divided into about 14 clans. Around Maryborough the clan was the Wurn balug (boomerang people) and at Avoca the Burung balug (yellow gum sapling people). Clans were extended family groups of usually less than 100 people living on large tracts of land. They did not over populate their land but deliberately kept their population at a level that their land could sustain in drought times. They achieved this by a variety of means such as contraception, abortion, infanticide (by the mother), murder (by the husband), retribution killing and tribal fighting. One of the most notable changes the Djadja wurrung made to enhance dry areas was the making of rock wells. There are at least four sets of these around Maryborough. All are on exposed sandstone that face east. This positioning would enable them to both catch the morning dew and reduce the afternoon evaporation. They are located in tracts of country generally devoid of surface water and probably allowed for either a single camp or drink whilst passing through. Many of these wells probably started off as natural hollows that caught water. Before leaving they would pound at the base with a fire hardened stick and remove the debris. Thus over many generations, a natural rock hole becomes a man made rock well. The best known series just south of Maryborough have a capacity of over 150 litres. By placing a rock over a rock well as a lid, they were able to limit the amount of water that was used by birds and animals, polluted, or lost to evaporation.
Photo by Clint Robins
D The trench and flood method Greg & Heather McNeilly Talbot
uring the mid 1990s Heather and I were living in Carrum Downs in our family home that we had had built some 15 years earlier. The bay window in our bedroom started slowly moving out and we discovered the brick work below had crack and moved. The tree roots from the neighbour’s black wattle had come seeking moisture and had subsequently dried out the sub soil to the point that the foundations of the house had started to crack and move. We were advised to dig a deep trench around the affected part of the house and keep it full of water until the window was back in position. This process took about a month and fixed the problem. Thirteen years on, our home in Talbot (the Talbot Post Office) started developing a crack in the west facing wall of our bedroom. The crack was getting bigger with each dry, hot summer. A structural engineer looked at the wall and came to the conclusion that the foundations were moving due to the drought with a solution that had more zeros in the price than the national debt. We decided to try the trench and flood method by redirecting the grey water from our dishwasher. The grey water kept the ground damp but summer presented a new problem. The cracked wall faced west and with each summer day getting hotter, the wall would transfer the day’s heat into the ground and was slowly drying the sub soil again. A shade cloth structure was erected to block out the sun’s temperature. The outcome has been remarkable, the west facing wall is much cooler, the ground stays damp all season, and the crack has closed up.
Photo by Rhys van der Hulst
D Innovation Craig Watts, Manager Barker Trailers, Maryborough
uring the drought period there was a huge downturn in sales, it really was like an era of depression. Customers just weren’t spending money and the whole economy had slowed down. At the time we didn’t know if things would get better but we were determined not to put off any workers and to keep all our apprentices. We managed this in a number of ways. At one stage we dropped back plant operation from 5 to 4 days a week. Workers would take turns on a roster and we would run a bus with 10 or 12 blokes from Maryborough to work at the Woodend plant. At other times we even got our workers doing general maintenance work such as cleaning and pulling out weeds from the gardens around the plant or filling in potholes in the staff car-park. One innovation we have is that despite having an Australia wide client base we were still able to customise our trailers to specifically suit individual customer needs. This helped business keep ticking over a little bit. Also, we built a number of standard trailers to have in stock so that we could quickly sell them when business picked up. We are very proud at Barker’s that we didn’t have to put off any blokes and were able to find ways to get through the tough drought period.
Photo by George & Raylene Nagy
A A sparse commodity Ian Boucher, Captain Carisbrook Fire Brigade
sk any local CFA member to describe what they do and the reply will most probably be “to put the wet stuff on the red stuff”. After many years of drought, the red stuff burns with more intensity but the wet stuff is a sparse commodity. Many regular tasks that are undertaken, such as pressure testing fire hoses for leaks have to be modified to save water. Rainwater tanks were installed at CFA stations to catch runoff, and in some cases groundwater bores and tanks installed with CFA fittings served a dual purpose of supplying emergency water for stock and domestic purposes and a back up supply for fire fighting purposes. Water bombing aircraft and helicopters were using more chemical fire retardants to conserve valuable water supplies. At local levels, farm dams, water holes and creek filling points had, in many cases, dried up and water had to be trucked in to replenish supplies taken from these dams for stock. Locally on high risk days or Total Fire Ban days, any water that would be placed on standby was used. Our fire station had, on extreme fire days, a semi-trailer load of water on standby from another area and local cement mixers and water carts filled with water parked at the fire station. On the fire ground, floating collar tanks – they’re like portable swimming pools – were deployed where water could be left for CFA appliances to fill from and could be constantly filled by water tankers. They were an invaluable tool where water was scarce or non-existent. What the drought taught everybody in the CFA and the community was to not take water for granted. Fires would still burn but we had to think and act smarter on combating them – pre-planning for upcoming fire seasons is vital.
Photo by George & Raylene Nagy
P Maintaining the lawn quality Martin Mackay Maryborough Croquet Club
rior to the drought, the Maryborough Croquet Club had played on traditional lawns of Fesque, a grass which grew in winter and provided an excellent playing surface but needed regular watering in summer. The Maryborough Croquet Club used approximately 400 kilolitres of water per annum to maintain the lawn quality. Under the water restrictions, the grass suffered and died in patches. Weeds began to grow and the playing surface deteriorated severely. The playing surface quality was not sufficient to continue playing association croquet and the club was forced to change to Golf Croquet, a game which could be played on a poorer quality surface. This led to the loss of some members who joined other clubs which were still able to play croquet. A 90 kilolitre water tank, fed off an adjacent building, was installed and connected to an existing in-ground sprinkler system. An agreement with a local factory to use their run-off water was made. This water was to be tinkered-in by the company and discharged to a new inlet point and purpose built inlet pipe installed for the club by the local shire council. Subsequently the contract tanker drivers refused to deliver the water to the discharge point and the agreement fell through. This facility is still in place if quality water can be carted to the site in the future. An exploratory bore hole was then dug to a depth of 90 metres in an effort to find another source of water. Unfortunately it was found to be too salty for use. Then the existing lawn was replaced with a summer growing couch grass and an experimental underground irrigation system was installed. The new grass has been established and is to be top-dressed to achieve the desired high quality playing surface required to resume playing association croquet.
Photo by Carl Rusbridge
T We all pitch in together Bridget Epworth, Hayley Wardlaw & Abbey Parker Avoca Netball Club
here are a number of ways the drought has affected local sporting clubs. The football grounds are very hard which can result in injury. Before the drought, there were farms that were able to sponsor local clubs but now they are struggling to keep their head above water so the funding is really hard to get. It is also a struggle to get the numbers to put a team together â€“ people are either working weekends to make ends meet or just donâ€™t want to play because it is so hot and unpleasant. However, the local sporting clubs have helped people cope with the drought. A lot of people still love playing sport and it gives them something to look forward to. If a club is struggling to survive the community all pitch in together to help keep the sporting clubs going. And playing sport can be a distraction from the drought and is a way to keep fit and look after your mental health. Playing sport against people from different country areas allows us to socialise and share stories, and helps us to realise that we are not the only ones who are suffering.
Photo by Bridget Epworth & Ebony Mills
H Just have fun Ashlyne McInnes, Karin Brand, Corey Wilson, Pasquale Gambuti, Ryan Cash (front) Maryborough Education Centre
ow the drought has impacted on students at Maryborough Education Centre is that students who have families living on farms are worried about their crops and livestock and can have trouble concentrating on school work. Within the school environment there is dirt everywhere because nothing grows; the school yard is dry with a lot of dust blowing around. Water restrictions mean it is hard to keep gardens alive. The local swimming pool helped students cope with the drought. It gives us students a chance to cool down and it is a meeting place to catch up with friends. It gives students a chance to get away from the drought and the heat and just have fun.
Photo by Emma Remilton
very Wednesday we check the rain gauge and send the amount into the local newspaper. We total the month and year to date.
Often it’s “Nope, no rain again this week. Where is the rain???”
Our successful program Amphitheatre Primary School
We’re pictured here with one of our five water tanks, which provide our school with water so we do not have to use the town supply. We are all very thankful for them. We always use a trigger hose to water our vegie garden, making sure we do not use too much of our tank water. We decided to have a school worm farm to help our vegies grow. We keep our food scraps in a container and feed them to the worms once a week. Then we try to get the worm wee! Then success! We have worm juice! We will either use this on our vegie garden or sell it to the locals to help fund our garden program. We are very proud of our successful vegie garden, which we use for our cooking program. We still enjoying playing in our yard, we can even lie down and have a rest.
Photo by Alison Cheater
W Taking pride Story by Kate, Zoe & James Elmhurst Primary School
e love to see beautiful green grass when we walk through the school gates in the morning. People now lie down on it, and dance and play on the artificial grass. The appearance of the school has always been important to us because it can liven people up and make the school look a lot smarter. We like the new artificial grass better than the old, brown, natural grass that had bare patches and weeds in it. We didn’t like the old grass very much. People didn’t play on the grass as much. It didn’t give the school a very good look. It wasn’t a very green grass it was more a patchy brown colour, which wasn’t very impressive. It was dry and as we played on it, the ground wore out into brown dirt and we were always dusty from the dry earth. Now that we have nice green artificial turf, the students are taking pride in how the front of the school looks. They are helping with weeding the garden and we have planted more shrubs and roses in the garden. Everyone comments on how lovely the school is looking. We have jobs to do outside every Friday and we do watering, weeding, raking and sweeping. We love how the school looks now.
Photo by Georgina Driscoll
n term one last year we did a unit of work on food and visited a local olive grove to see how olives are grown and what happens to them after they are picked.
Our no-dig garden Bradley & Samuel Field Moonambel Primary School
Our teacher asked us if we would like to grow our own vegetables at school so we asked the parents if they would help us put up a fence around our vegie plot. We started to collect cardboard and paper for our no dig garden and a load of soil and hay was delivered to school. We said we needed some baa poo for the garden so Mrs Weir said we could go to her farm and collect some from under the shearing shed. We thought it was dirty, dusty and very smelly but we think the plants will love it. When everything was ready we started to create our garden. We put down different layers of cardboard, soil, paper, baa poo and straw to make the mounds to plant our seeds and seedlings. The six of us decided what types of vegies we wanted to plant - peas, potatoes, broad beans, silver beet, cauliflower, lettuce and we also planted some rhubarb and strawberries … yum. As we are not at school during the summer holidays to water and look after the plants, we had to plant mainly winter vegies. This year we have had plenty of rain for our garden but our no-dig garden also means we don’t have to water it as much either – we just pull out all the weeds.
Photo by Bridget Epworth & Ebony Mills
W Here to assist the community Maryborough District Health Service - Community Services Pictured (L-R) Greg Riddett, Kylie MacKenzie, Louisa Taylor & Angela Walker
hatever the situation - drought, flooding or locusts - our staff are here to assist. Over the last couple of years our staff have helped farmers and their families come to terms with the effects the drought and help manage some very difficult decisions about their families’ future in farming or to help deal with the many day to day situations that cause grief, stress, anxiety or depression. With the drought going on for so many years, we found that much of our community’s natural resilience was depleted and what may have been a small issue when times were good may be now causing much grief. So we provided Mental Health First Aid training to community members and staff from agencies and businesses. The program teaches participants how to recognise mental health issues and how to get help. This program will continue during 2011 and onwards with some additional programs aimed at adolescents. We also provide Alcohol and other Drugs Counselling and assistance with housing. Our Community Health Nurses offer the Sustainable Farm Families program, linked with local groups such as football and netball clubs, local Landcare groups and the CFA. The community can also access a wide range of services, including urgent care, inpatient and maternity services, day surgery and residential aged care facilities, outpatient, medical imaging, dental, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics, speech pathology, managing chronic conditions and exercise physiology. Our staff travel the countryside to provide services at other venues, including walking and strength training groups, Health Education forums, Community Nursing and Well Women’s clinics. We also offer home visits. Our reception will direct you to the right person to assist, just call 5461 0400.
Photo by David Clark
A Farming in the 21st Century – A Pyrenees Shire response to drought Workshops, Pyrenees Shire
s part of its drought response in 2010, Pyrenees Shire, in conjunction with the Ararat Rural City and the Northern Grampians Shire Councils, ran a series of six workshop events for rural producers entitled ‘Farming in the 21st Century’. The events were held in rural locations across the three municipalities and discussed key issues facing agriculture into the future. Topics included controlled traffic farming, new enterprise options flowing from the Wimmera Mallee pipeline, carbon neutral farming, bio energy and bio fuels. In all, 250 people attended the six events, heard from great speakers and discussed with great intent the future shape and style of agriculture in the region. Of particular interest was a demonstration gasifier unit built by the City of Ararat with the capacity to utilise municipal and agricultural waste (crop residues and timber thinnings) as fuel to produce heat, electricity and fuel. Pyrenees Shire is now undertaking a study of potential waste streams within its municipality, both in terms of type, volume and availability as part of the next step of moving toward such technology. The Shire is also working in partnership with neighbouring councils and Central Highlands Agribusiness Forum to obtain funding support for a feasibility study into the application of Bioenergy and implementation of a potential project in Beaufort. The technology is widely used in urban areas for heating and electricity generation in northern Europe.
For further information If you would like any information about this project or the services associated with it, please contact: St Lukeâ€™s, Maryborough
T: 5460 4144
St Lukeâ€™s Community Capacity Building Unit, Bendigo
T: 5430 1203
Project Facilitator: Deanna Neville Focus on Community
T: 0428 751 090