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FARM YARNS Autumn 2012

We would like to acknowledge generous support from the following organisations:

The Collingwood Children’s Farm are proud to acknowledge the Wurundjeri of the Kulin Federation as the traditional owners of the Abbotsford Precinct Heritage Farmlands, the land we respect, care for and farm on behalf of all Victorians. The Farm thanks all Wurundjeri Elders past and present, for their guardianship of these lands.

Farm Patron - Mrs Elizabeth Chernov, Government House

2011-12 Committee of Management Cheryl Cameron (Treas.)

Mikyla Hart

Netta McArthur (Pres.)

Helen Semmler (Sec.)

Lachlan Fitch

Pip Hay

Lily O’Neill

Greg Sparks (V.Pres.)

Eleanor Fletcher

Jane Ogilvie

Richard Ginsburg

Cr Amanda Stone

Alex Walker (Farm Manager) Farm Yarns is a quarterly publication from the Collingwood Children’s Farm (CCF). The CCF, a not-for-profit, educational small-holding city farm was established in 1979 as a “country experience for city folk”. The Farm is sited on the Abbotsford Precinct Heritage Farmlands, the oldest continually farmed land in Victoria (since 1838). The CCF is guided by a Committee of Management, elected annually. Cover photo - Colourful Farm produce sits outside Reception (image by Andrew Phillips)


Farm Manager Managers Report Just when it looked like the Summer heat was done with, the hot days have come back upon us. Luckily for the farm animals there is plenty of fodder in the paddocks at the moment, established shelter-belts for shade and refreshing cool water to slake their thirst. Speaking of water, hopefully we are going to soon connect up our vintage “Southern Cross” windmill and reduce our reliance on electrical pumps for sending our precious harvested rainwater all over the Farm. One of the great things about the Farm is the Farm Cafe, lovingly established and successfully run over the last six years by Tom and Pip Hay. This success and subsequent popularity has meant that the existing cafe infrastructure is now in need of a broad revamp. And so the Farm Cafe will be closed from Monday March 5th until the renovations are completed. Happily, coffee and light snacks will be available on-site until the Cafe re-opens (to much fanfare) later in the year.

Alex Walker It’s hard to believe we have been in our new Reception Building for almost 6 months. Response has been overwhelmingly positive; thanks again for everyone’s patience whilst we adjusted our procedures to the new structure. A final part of this upgrade is a new payment and accounting system. As with all new things, there’s a learning curve until all the bells and whistles are understood. So if you’ve waited a little longer to have your entry processed, we appreciate your understanding! Australian Year of the Farmer events are starting to happen on the Farm, with some exciting guests (no names yet!) coming to present our YOF gate plaque early in March. A national roadshow is currently touring across Australia, and will be on-site later in the year. A BIG thanks to all staff for their great effort over Summer, it’s such a busy time for the

Visitors may have noticed all the great gardening work that is taking place around “No. 18” (our former offices) by the JOBCO Green Team. Not only are the Green Team workers learning a wide variety of positive landscaping and gardening skills, they are creating a muchneeded, tidier entry to the Farm along the bridge/walkway. Well done everyone!

Farm and everyone has done a fantastic job. And don’t forget for Family Days, all visitors must now get a wrist-stamp at Reception for the Pony and Tractor Rides. Cheers all! Below: Chinese Silky chickens—talk, talk, talk ...

The produce table outside Reception has been laden with a great variety of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables from our gardens and orchards. Tomatoes, zucchini’s, chillies, button squash, corn, apples, aubergines, gourds and silverbeet are just a few of the tasty treats available to go with the eggs laid by our hens every morning. Pumpkins won’t be too far away. It’s been a great Summer season overall.



Farm News Busy, Busy, Busy ... Term 1 has started, right on the back of school holidays! The School Holidays seem busier every year, but also go more smoothly. This Summer the only days that seemed quiet were the really hot ones (I remember cleaning out the filing cabinets and washing floors as it was so quiet a few years ago)! Term 1 has started and we welcome back a lot of groups from last year, and some new ones as well. More projects are getting underway, with the planned building of a new animal shelter with the local Rudolf Steiner School, and new fencing in the chicken yards (to facilitate the growing of fresh chook food greens) with Heatherwood School. Below: Brandy looking windswept.

Bridget Bainbridge/ Nick Karavokiros

The egg incubating season over, we turned off the incubator last week and the last few chicks are in the shed under heatlamps. We have been selling pullets for the last few weeks, and more are still to become available. We expect to be sold out about April-May, so buy your chickens now! The Green Team from JOBCO are here, a crew of young people whose energy and enthusiasm is great to have around. They have done a terrific job with the rather unrewarding task of weeding along the riverbank, and also started putting in the plumbing so we can link the windmill up and use it to pump water to animal troughs in the back paddocks. Currently they have been doing some formal training (with some of the Farm staff joining in the chainsaw training) over the last few weeks; First Aid, White Cards and Chemical Users certificates are still to come. Riding for the Disabled is back in full swing, and currently hunting for a new horse to join the ranks - we need something big, solid and quiet. So if you know of anyone selling or leasing out a horse that might be suitable please let us know. We have been harvesting our farm produce and selling it at Reception. It’s been a great hit, with lots of produce sold - particularly the fresh herbs and zucchinis. The corn, planted across the Farm is just starting to ripen, so keep your eye out for it. Many thanks to our maintenance team who come on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Among other things, lately they have been building new benches and steps up to the Stable Windows so everyone can see the horses, no mat-



Finally, it’s mating season for sheep and goats, so you will find some small groups of these beasties in padlocked paddocks while they get the deed done. We are looking forwards to getting a new calf, as Hope and Kasey (our current potty calves) are getting too big and don’t need to drink Heather’s milk anymore. We are also looking forwards to our new cow who will be arriving towards the end of next term, ready to have her calf on the Farm. She (and Above: ZZzzzzzzzzz … Saskia dreaming.

ter what size they are (the little people, not the horses).

the calf) will be pure bred Dairy Shorthorns, another rare breed. Very exciting! Young Farmers Program

The new Composting Facility is on the brink of starting to become reality - the current composting site is to be re-levelled and a large concrete pan installed to make compost turning quicker and more efficient, as a part of the Compost Mates Program of City of Yarra and Cultivating Communities.

The Young Farmers program has started back, but we haven’t started all our newest recruits just yet. Last year’s kids are pleased to be back, riding horses, eating unripe walnuts, planting lettuces and helping out around the Farm generally. We are all looking forwards to having our Farm Sleep Over at the end of term.

Below: “You’re kidding me - we lay what???” Light Sussex Hens discussing weighty issues. (image courtesy Oscar Dowling)



From the horses mouth Last year we welcomed three new members onto the Farm’s Committee of Management (the COM). Congratulations! For those members who don’t know of the COM’s role, broadly it provides the “over-arching” longterm governance and guidance for the Farm (the “big picture” stuff), rather than run the Farm on a day-to-day level. Without it, we could easily be chasing our tail! So you might better recognise your new representatives when visiting the Farm, they’ve kindly provided a biography and photograph. They would always welcome your feedback. Richard Ginsburg Since discovering the Collingwood Children’s Farm a few years ago, I’ve wanted to contribute to the success of this Melbourne icon. Currently I am completing a Masters in Construction Management at Melbourne University and work in management of a family contracting business. This is challenging but gives me flexibility to contribute to other organisations about which I’m passionate – such as the Collingwood Children’s Farm. Whilst studying Commerce previously, I was an undergraduate financial auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers. I also volunteer for another not-for-profit organisation – JOY94.9, an inclusive community radio station. Through JOY I have been exposed to issues which are unique to community organisations and have gained knowledge about governance and stewardship of ‘not-forprofits’ – and about best balancing the needs of many committed stakeholders. This knowledge is applicable to governance of the Farm as well. In the past I have been an academic tutor,


working particularly with high-school students with learning challenges. This was especially rewarding as one of my students is now qualifying for his ‘dream job’ – to be a farm vet! I hope to integrate some of this experience in assisting the Farm in reaching its target market and ‘engaging the disengaged’ - particularly disadvantaged youth. Another passion of mine includes sustainable food production and agriculture - our home garden is run organically along with six hens, and I have previously written for the quarterly ABC Organic Gardener magazine. I believe this is an area in which the Collingwood Children’s Farm plays a unique role as advocate, resource and educator. The Collingwood Children’s Farm is special. I hope that my education, skills and experience can assist the Farm to optimize its finances and achieve its educational, social and other strategic objectives. I’m fortunate to have come from a very diverse background and therefore may also be able to contribute a different point of view to the challenges and opportunities which will arise. All of this will hopefully assist the Children’s Farm in continuing and expanding as a flourishing country-community hub near the heart of the city!



Jane Ogilvie I discovered the Farm a few years back while visiting a friend who lived in Abbotsford. We were going for a walk along the bike path when all of a sudden it felt like we turned the corner and were no longer a couple of kilometres from the city but in the middle of the countryside with sheep and goats in the paddocks. From that day I was hooked and have been coming back to the Farm ever since.

thought I would apply and hoped that I might have the skills that the committee were looking for. I am very honored to be a member of the Farm Committee of Management and I am looking forward to being able to make a positive contribution to the Farm.

I am now a mum to Ally (2 years) and Aiden (6 months) and we all love coming down to the Farm to see the animals and enjoy a bit of “countryside” in the city (plus a coffee for me from the café!). This picture of Ally was taken when she was holding the gate closed so she wouldn’t have to leave the Farm and go home!

Above: Honk! Below: Quack!

I saw the call for new Committee of Management members in the 2011 Winter Farm Yarns and that the COM were looking for members with a finance background. I am a commercial manager in the construction industry so



Garden Tidings Plants for animals TAGASASTE has been grown in Australia since the 1800’s when seeds were sent from Kew Gardens in London to grow at the Adelaide Botanic gardens, as it was reported to be a great drought-tolerant fodder plant. This legume, originally from the Canary Islands is also a wonderful “nursery” or protective plant for establishing fruit or slow grow-

Toni Phillips ing trees, as it is fast growing and acts as climate protection and the roots provide extra nitrogen to accompanying plants. As a fodder crop it provides feed throughout the year and is of great benefit during the Summer when grass is neither abundant or tasty. At the Farm, goats, horses, sheep, pigs and Heather our super milking cow all love it.

Below: Volunteers Nick and Tiffany feeding Tagasaste to Harry, Tyson, Joe and Mickey




2 3 PHOTOS 1 Tyson the pony posing 2 Mickey the donkey deep in donkey thoughts 3 Ewe 502 (one of our older English Leicesters) wondering what that box is doing ... and can I eat it? 4 Harry the pony up close (images courtesy Oscar Dowling)



Farm Staff - Their Stories By Emma Kofoed Working at the farm as a casual is a unique experience. Sometimes I’ll work one day a week or three. Other times I might not work for a fortnight. It’s because of this that the variety is great. Things change very rapidly and that means I have to re-familiarise myself with the goings-on every time I come here. Though I predominantly do farm tours for groups, there are a huge variety of jobs that need to be done every day. These include preparing feed and feeding the animals, cleaning pens and paddocks and watering the gardens. Animals are moved between paddocks on a regular basis and finding out where they are is the first task in order to plan out your tour route. Then it’s important to check the “animal book” to check what changes have occurred. Animals need to be medicated routinely against disease or if they’re sick, and sadly, animals die. Sometimes we have new arrivals that you need to get to know. Other times animals are put on strict diets and so must be excluded from feeding during Farm tours.

ment I realised the question was related to the peacock’s tail feathers. I replied, “No, I don’t speak peacock”. Needless to say, there’s a lot to smile about on the farm. The old adage “never work with children or animals” applies. Imagine the fun of working with both! Of course, it’s not just working with animals and children. The Farm’s extensive gardens need to be maintained. When asked to weed, I was daunted by the task of identifying the weeds from the crops. I didn’t know what an artichoke plant or broad bean plant looked like, or most of the plants, come to think of it… but over time I’m learning which plants are for the farmer’s market, and which are yummy goat food. Below: Emma and Farm friends

Being able to change plans at a moments notice is very important. The weather can play havoc with your day. Rainy days mean planning your tours around indoor activities and racing out to see the animals in between showers. When it’s hot, you need to allow drink breaks for the children. It’s always different and you need to adapt your tours to these and many other factors. It’s certainly a great learning curve. The range of questions asked really keeps you on your toes. Sometimes children say the funniest things. One example is “will the goats chase a stick?” When told, “probably not, they’re not dogs”, I was asked, “ can I try anyway?”. Or, “can you make the peacock open?” After a mo-



When we have events, then it’s all hands on deck. All the chores still need to be done, but there’s additional work like moving hay bales, setting up marquees and helping with bbq’s. I never know what the day has in store for me until I get there, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reflections of an ex-Young Farmer By Mia Sutherland Of course ten years of organised chaos (as we Young Farmers ran around pretending to do work) cannot ever be covered in a few short paragraphs. However a few of the many memorable moments deserve to be told and remembered. The Young Farmer’s Program has been enjoyed by many children over the years and has added much to the lives of those children, myself included, with close friendships being formed, interesting lessons about the animals (especially the horses) and playing around (while working, of course) with Staff and other Young Farmers alike. As a ‘Beginner’ in the program at the tender age of 8, entering the Farm was like entering a new world. I arrived on my first day with my friend and brother, feeling slightly nervous, but very excited. Slowly, I settled into the routine of the Saturday Farm experience. To begin the day we would go with our group to help milk the cow, which was fun, although slightly scary (as the cow was A LOT bigger than me) and very tiring. There was many a day in those first few years when I would head home at the end of the day with my forearms aching from milking the cow. In the afternoon, my group and I would head

Above: Mia and Brandy showing off their pony-pony tails!

down to the stables and have a horse riding lesson. This was my favourite part of the day and all these years later it still is! As Young Farmers we all had our favourite horses to ride and there were many fights over who would ride which horse. The fights were quickly settled by Frank, the previous Riding Instructor, who would merely match each Young Farmer to a horse and that was that. As the years passed, I have seen many horses, Staff and Young Farmers come and go, with my favourite horse changing many times, as each favourite would get progressively older until they finally earned the right to head off into retirement. However, even as everything,



(from page 11) including the daily routine, changed around me as I climbed up the Young Farmer Hierarchical Ladder, one thing always stayed the same. Every Saturday morning, come rain, hail or shine, I would be up and at the Farm, generally promptly, at 9:30 am and usually didn’t leave until 5pm or later. Especially in the later years, my Saturdays at the Farm became a procrastination tool and welcome relief from the demands of high school, homework and the monotony of studying for VCE.

Community Composting Initiative

All in all the Collingwood Children’s farm has allowed me to grow and develop (sometimes in the gardens), into a (sometimes) mature and hard working adult. Thank you to all the Farm Staff, animals and Young Farmers over the years who have shared some, all or only brief parts of my long journey with the Collingwood Children’s farm.

Collingwood Children’s Farm has entered into a partnership with Yarra City Council and Cultivating Community to establish a Community Composting Centre onsite to assist in diverting waste from landfill.

Mia Sutherland is now employed casually at the Farm (mostly on Saturdays!).

The Compost Centre will be specifically made available for local cafes and some residents to compost their food waste. Each resident will need to apply to become part of this project in early 2012.

Working with our existing systems we’ll be enhancing our composting facilities and space to compost up to one tonne of food waste per week. The worm farm and compost piles will be redesigned and re-built early in 2012 to accommodate this.

To view the site designs and provide feedback for the compost systems contact Pete Huff from Cultivating Community at: (or telephone 9429 3084). In addition to the Compost Centre, this same partnership is recruiting 100 residents living in or close to Abbotsford to compost their food waste at home. Going by the name of Compost Crew this program will provide subsidised compost systems, free workshops and educational resources. For more information or to apply for the Compost Crew program visit: or contact Hannah Moloney from Cultivating Community at: (or Above: Charlie Benson, Zac and Teddy in Zora’s Paddock

telephone 9429 3084).



Farmland History The history of the local farmland (Pt. 4) The Sisters of the Good Shepherd hold a unique place as farmers and guardians of the Abbotsford Precinct Heritage Farmlands for 112-years (1863-1975). Luckily we have a wealth of oral and written material regarding their activity - and we keep learning more all the time. Just recently, a farm visitor informed us that she had been cared for at the Convent in the 1950’s, and that a Sister Francis was in charge of the dairy herd and daily milking. In 1965 (est.) a local newspaper wrote a detailed article about the farming activity of the Sisters and women under their care: “The farm produces vegetables, eggs, milk, bacon, pork and poultry ... any surplus goes to other Church institutions. The farm has 30 cows and heifers and one Jersey bull. Most of the cows are

Andrew Phillips

Friesian-Jersey crosses. Sixteen are being milked at present, supplying 57 gallons (260 litres) of milk a day. In the Spring the milk production rises to 80 gallons (364 litres). The farm also has about 90 pigs and a poultry section of about 600 birds”. And from an oral-history timeline created for a 1992 Farm Country Fair Day: “1932 – (there were) 890 girls and 140 nuns, an orphanage with a ... piggery, cows, open paddocks. Nuns wore calf skin shoes made from animals on the farm.” If any of our readers have historical records that may be of interest to our farming heritage, or perhaps have a relative who can recall their time at the Convent, it would be great to hear from you!

Below: A pre-1900 picture of “St Heliers”, after which St Heliers Street is named. This large, stately 1840’s farmstead was demolished to allow for construction of the main Convent Building of the Convent of the Good Shepherd (1900-1903).



Is closing for renovations at the end of trading on

Sunday 4th March We look forward to welcoming everyone to the new-look Farm Cafe !

A coffee cart will operate on-site from Monday 5th 

DONATION TO THE COLLINGWOOD CHILDREN’S FARM Purchase a hay-bale for the animals!

As a not-for-profit organisation, the Farm welcomes donations to meet our running costs. And our animals eat a lot! Please support the Farm by directly purchasing food for the animals (donations over $2 are tax deductable*).

Yes, I would like to support the Farm by purchasing: Qty


x Lucerne Hay Bale


Name: Address:

(@$14 p/bale)


or x Lucerne Hay Chaff $ (@$21 p/bag)


Please charge my Visa or Mastercard  Card No.: 

 enclosed Cheque

  I would like a tax receipt please (note: cheques should be made payable to Collingwood Children’s Farm, PO Box 80, Abbotsford, 3067) * - a receipt is required by the Australian Tax Office for donation claims





Animal Information

Oscar Dowling

Buying birds? The lowdown on our Federation Chickens. At the Collingwood Children’s Farm, rare breeds poultry play (try saying that quickly) an integral role in sustaining a working farm atmosphere in an inner-city environment. This is my attempt at summarising the true relevance of these birds in such a farm as ours.

docile, good-natured roosters and sociable hens. Named after the South-East county of Sussex, they were originally developed as a dual-purpose chicken. But with modern commercial farming pressures, uses of chickens in this manner have long been discarded. Thus, this breed is now part of our Federation Pens population also.

Most of the animals at the Farm are not kept purely for production, but rather to maintain and protect rare breeds from becoming extinct. The Farm chooses its breeds based on this concept. Take our Salmon Faverolles for a example, originally developed in the 1860’s as an egg-laying and meat bird in the community of Faverolles, located in the “Centre” region of France. Populations peaked in the early 20th Century when Faverolles provided the majority of Paris’ eggs. Since this time, their commercial populations have been declining (except where better-laying birds have been found) and are now solely bred as exhibition birds only. We have Salmon Faverolles, a light salmon-coloured, five-toed bird known for its deep chest with feathers that cover its feet and create a feathered neck “ruff”.

Black Orpingtons were considered paramount egg layers at the turn of the 20th century, supplying up to 200+ eggs per year. Originally they were a crossbred, bred by William Cook in 1886 as a dual utility bird in the (now metropolitan) township Orpington, England. Their numbers have grown slightly due to their attractiveness, and they now often exhibited by chicken fanciers. Because of their heavy plumage they are excellent layers during the cooler months and work well as backyard birds due to their inability to fly. The hens make great mothers and are extremely broody.

Faverolles are only one of our Federation Pens breeds, which celebrate Austalian commercial and domestic poultry at the time of Federation. Unfortunately due to an increasingly small population and an ever-shrinking gene pool Faverolles are becoming more prone to hereditary diseases. However, their friendly and inquisitive personality, coupled with their child friendliness means they will always be valued at their home here. The highly sociable Light Sussex (which is our only free-range chicken) has been bred since the Roman occupation of Britain in 43AD. We choose Light Sussex here at the Farm for their

The Brown Leghorns are arguably the most attractive of all chickens on the Farm. Their thin bodies are better suited for egg laying than for a chicken roast – which is good because they can lay up to a massive 320+ eggs per year! Black and Brown Leghorns are much rarer than the common White and in my opinion superior in appearance. Originating out of Tuscany in central Italy and being exported to North American in the mid-19th century, Leghorns have evolved to become more flighty and nervous birds than other breeds. Pullets are available for sale (until all sold) at the Farm: Leghorns $40, Orpingtons $40 and Chinese Silkies $30. References Aschwanden, Christie - Beautiful Chickens, Murdock Books 2011 Percy, Pam - A field guide to chickens, Voyager Press, 2006


Collingwood Children’s Farm PO Box 80 Abbotsford 3067


Farm phone: 9417 5806 Email: Website:

Family Fun Days First Sunday of the month (no Family Fun Day in January)

Also enjoy hay rides and pony rides (when available), and other farm activities all for price of standard entry.

Farmer’s Market

Where to find us St Heliers Street, Abbotsford Melways Ref 44 G5 Open every day of the year Entry: $16 Family $8 Adult $4 Child

The the concept of aSaturday supported held second volunteer program is unique to ofour every month for beautifarm. Originally it was ful fresh, produce. known asquality the Disability Program, but we prefer to focus on abilities rather than the lack of them … just like the renamed RDA riding program! You may ask why the program exists and what are the benefits of it to the participants and the farm. In the case of special school students, in class groups A VFMA both accredited market

Collingwood Childrens' Farm Autumn Newsletter 2012  

Collingwood Childrens' Farm Autumn Newsletter 2012