Sixty four hardy souls braved the coldest day in Coolatai, New South Wales in many years to attend HMI’s Australian Open Gate held at Glen Orton on July 17th. Although some registrants weren’t able to attend because they were unexpectedly ‘snowed in’, many people traveled long distances from Queensland, the northern rivers and New England tablelands regions, and the diversity of the audience was a feature of the day. The presentations, open fires and great food provided the catalyst for the start of many interesting conversations.
Judi Earl, Holistic Management Certified Educator and Glen Orton owner/operator shared how she has applied the principles of Holistic Management to regenerate the land and ultimately improve pasture and livestock production. Since 2011, Judi has been using cattle at Glen Orton to manage Coolatai grass, the dominant low-quality forage in the area. There was a lively discussion about how she has increased the productivity of her land in spite of 4 years of drought, and how her holistic goal has impacted decisions about health care for her livestock.
Other highlights of the day included:
- Glenn Morris, manager of Fig Trees Organic Farms, passionately presenting on creating a culture of honesty and respect for the land and society in our food production systems. He shared how they use Holistic Management and organic farming to regenerate ecosystem processes, enhance health and stimulate the economy, and how this creates strength in their marketing.
- Philippa Morris of Peach Trees, discussing how micro-producers can use good environmental management and good livestock handling practices to help market their animals.
- A delicious lunch featuring Glenn Morris’ organic meat pies.
- Zoologist Alex Dudley inspiring and entertaining with his passionate discussion of biodiversity, and how we are all part of the ecosystem and dependent on biodiversity.
- A tour of Glen Orton looking at residual herbage and soil surface condition of a number of paddocks recently grazed as well as ones the animals were about to enter.
- Judi leading an exercise and discussion to assess available feed, plan grazing days, and determine and increase stock density.
- Gathering around campfires for tea and more discussions
- Alex pointing out important features of biodiversity in the landscape, and what can be done to retain and create habitat for diverse creatures
- A good group of participants staying afterwards for a BBQ, drinks and more conversation which eventually wound up around 9pm
Here are some of the comments from participants:
It was a good day despite the cold. Loved Alex the bug man and his knowledge.
Very social, very informative, very helpful to me personally, and the food was GREAT! Please thank the food providers for me. The pies were delicious, and the salads very special.
Thank you for an excellent day at your lovely property on Friday. I’m so glad I ignored every obstacle and continued on my mission to attend.(Everything was leaning against me!!!!!)
Well put together, very informative, thanks for sharing your knowledge
Lots of interesting talk among people
Both of us really appreciate how generous you are with your knowledge and the networking with other producers implementing sustainable and planned grazing and farming practices was encouraging and useful. Higher stock density and more water to our “POMP = paddock of much potential” are priorities.
Thanks for an interesting and worthwhile open day at Glen Orton. The good food and fires were a bonus.
Networking – very good
It was great to see your comprehensive plant list. It is always amazing to see how widespread a lot of species are.
Well done (great food)
Here’s what the evaluations showed:
|Overall Satisfaction of this event (rated good to excellent):||97%|
|Facilitator's Effectiveness (rated good to excellent):||97%|
|Venue (rated good to excellent):||84%|
|Intent to change management practices/apply ideas you learned in this event?||70%|
|Intent to complete biological monitoring on your land as a result of today's event?||60%|
|Expanded network today by meeting new people or learning about resources available to you?||97%|
|Would recommend this event to others:||100%|