Exploring Alternative Farming Enterprises 16 April 2016
Are you thinking about diversifying your farm income?
Are you interested in exploring alternative farm enterprises?
Or are you looking for farming options for a small property?
Join in a farm tour of the Tolmie region, Victoria, investigating different farming enterprises and business models. The tour will visit local farms and demonstration sites where you’ll hear how innovative farmers have grown alternative crops such as garlic, capers, and cider apples.
Guest Speakers inlcude our own Amnada Garner talking bushfoods in an agroforestry context. For more information download FARM TOUR Exploring Farming Enterprises flyer.
Sustainable farming with bushfoods 14-19 October 2015
AAF is proudly supporting the Port Philip and Western Port CMA in Victoria to run a series of Bushfood Workshops in their region. A great line up of knowledgeable people - including Neville Bonney, long time expert and advocate for Australian Native food plants and Amanda Garner, AAF Bushfood Project officer - will bring you the latest information on growing, harvesting and marketing bushfoods. For more information download Sustainable Farming with Bushfoods flyer.
Sharing a vision for landscape change
Geraint Richards, the Duchy of Cornwall’s Head Forester, pictured here with AAF’s Marianne Stewart and Rowan Reid.
Geraint was in Australia to attend the 2015 ANZIF conference ''Beyond tenure: managing forests across the landscape". He was here at the request of Prince Charles - to explore and build relationships with Australia with regards to forestry and sustainable agriculture (aka agroforestry) . . . no wonder he hit it off with us!
After Rowan’s presentation at the conference, Geraint was eager to see our approach to agroforestry so joined the post-conference tour that took him through the Otways – the heart of agroforestry in Australia.
Prince Charles’ long-term vision is one of the main strengths of the Duchy, and bolstered by his desire to pass it on in a stronger condition. Across all of the estates, and in all of the business operations, the Prince continues to try to ensure that the Duchy makes a real and lasting contribution to the communities in which they live and work. He’s been quoted as saying: “Diversity is perhaps its greatest strength—and its continuation is one of the most important things we can hand on to the next generation.”
Early on in his tenure as head forester, Geraint took the Duchy’s woods into FSC certification and adopted a continuous cover/close-to-nature approach to management. He has been involved with all sorts of organisations and initiatives to do with trees, woodlands and forests and more especially, those issues close to Prince Charles’ heart – such as high-quality silviculture, utilising and ‘adding-value’ to home-grown timber, and education/training.
Senator Colbeck sees excellent examples of agroforestry in action
Senator Richard Colbeck (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture) and his forestry adviser Peter Volker, visited with us for a day last month.We showed him great examples of multi-puporse trees in rural landscapes with a visit first to AAF Managing Director's demonstration property the Bambra Agroforestry Farm, followed by a bush food inspired lunch and tour of Otway Agroforestry Network Co-ordinator Andrew Stewart's property at Deans Marsh.
Sen. Colbeck came to gather information to help him argue the value case for multipurpose trees on farms and opened discussions by saying he saw great potential for integrating timber production with the conservation and agricultural benefits of trees: He argued that taken alone, timber, carbon, biodiversity or shelter cannot justify the costs of planting and owning trees without significant tax breaks (MIS) or subsidies (Landcare). But, together the suite of benefits trees provide offers the prospect of a real return for farmers who can capture them all. This set the theme for the day as we shared our enthusiasm for agroforestry.
As a keen woodworker Sen. Colbeck recognises the potential for lesser known timbers and was particularly interested in Rowan’s Californian Redwoods and specialty native species. Under the trees at Andrew’s we discussed the extent to which agroforestry can add to the productivity of a conventional grazing farm (rather than displacing it). Sen. Colbeck challenged Andrew for the figures and later tweeted: “Excellent example of farm forestry – 17% plantation and zero loss of animal productivity plus new income streams."
MTG Timor Leste?
With One Seed founder Andrew Mahar has invited Rowan Reid and Mike Robinson-Koss,AAF, to Timor Leste in July 2014 to explore implementing MTG courses there. With One Seed helps farmers set up nurseries and plant trees, but they don't know much about tree management. There is the potential for the MTG program to help them learn about thinning and pruning Mahogany and Teak. There may also be potential for re-establishing sandalwood that used to grow prolifically on the islands.
More... MTG Timor Leste
New MTG for Uganda
In July 2014 the second Ugandan Master TreeGrower course will be conducted in Ntungamo, Uganda. David Curry (pictured at Kabale MTG 2013) and Jon Lambert (Beyond Subsistance) will join with local Co-ordinator Joy Tukahirwa to deliver this course. It is positioned to address issues facing farmers in the drylands of Uganda. The Ntungamo District is in Western Uganda and is where the current President, Yoweri Museveni, was born. It is known as the 'cattle corridor' of Uganda. The course will explore opportunities for trees to improve livelihoods and environmental benefits, especially among vulnerable communties. More... MTG Ntungama
First MTG in West Africa - Niger
Jon Lambert and Emma Leslie-Mohr from Australia ran the Nigerien Master TreeGrower course alongside course facilitators whom had participated in the original training in Australia during 2012. Peter Cunningham from SIMaid Australia contributed with his local research on the use of Acacia seeds for food. More... MTG Niger
5- minute video features Rowan Reid's Bambra Agroforestry Farm
Todd Mansfield of The Deep Living Project spent a day on the farm and has started producing a series of short videos – this is the first. Click here to watch.
New National Peer Group Mentoring Project underway in 3 regions
The Australian Agroforestry Foundation is currently negotiating contracts with three regional groups to deliver Master TreeGrower and Peer Group Mentoring projects within their region. The funding comes from the Federal Government as part of the Caring for our Country Innovations Grant. The aim is to test a new extension model that trains, then pays, farmers to work as mentors. The idea does not replace professionals. In fact, scientists and extension professional play a critical role in supporting the peer group mentors and responding to the special needs or concerns of the landholders. Each region will receive more than $60,000 to work with the Foundation to run educational and extension programs in their own region.
Trees for Life: Accelerating the impacts of Agroforestry
The World Congress on Agroforestry 2014 Delhi, India, 10 – 14 February 2014
The World Congress on Agroforestry is organized by the World Agroforestry Centre, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Indian Society of Agroforestry and Global Initiatives. It will shape the next steps in the field of integrative science, transformative change in landscapes, tree improvement, innovative tree-based value chains, debates on global and local sustainability, reform of land and tree tenure and holistic education.
Building on the legacy of the 2nd congress in 2009, the World Congress on Agroforestry 2014 will act as a springboard to accelerate the impacts of agroforestry, build people’s livelihoods, increase the vitality of the landscape and drive the adoption of large-scale innovations.
Foundation receives grant to help farmers explore agroforestry
Jan 14 2014
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, today announced the Australian Agroforestry Foundation will receive up to $770,000 for a project to stimulate investment in revegetation and tree management on farms.
The foundation is a national not-for-profit company that was recently formed to take over the responsibility for the Australian Master TreeGrower program, the Australian Agroforestry magazine and the national roll out of the Peer Group Mentoring extension initiative developed by the Otway Agroforestry Network. Those involved in the foundation include Rowan Reid (Vic), Richard Moore (WA), Annabel Kater (NSW) and some of the leaders of the Otway Agroforestry Network (Vic).
“The Master TreeGrower and Peer Group Mentoring project will give farmers access to practical science-based knowledge, credible information networks and guidance. The project aims to result in more trees being planted and managed on farms,” Senator Colbeck said.
“The benefits of this project are vast and include reducing land degradation, improving off-site water quality, increasing carbon sequestration.”
Senator Colbeck said the project also had the potential to increase and diversify farm income from the sale of native foods, timber, biofuels, tree seed, flowers, honey and essential oils as well as re-establishing habitat for native birds, animals and insects.
Senator Colbeck said projects were being funded around the country as part of the Australian Government’s $21.2 million Innovation Grants.
“We’re thrilled that the new government has recognised the importance of continuing, and expanding the work of the Otway Agroforestry Network and the Australian Master TreeGrower Program”, said Rowan Reid, the Managing Director of the not-for profit Australian Agroforestry Foundation.
Using the innovative models developed over 20 years the Foundation will stimulate investment in revegetation and tree management on farms for the reasons that are important to farmers and their communities.
“This funding will include a series of Australian Master TreeGrower courses that will be run in regional areas around Australia including Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia,” said Rowan.
The Australian Master TreeGrower Program (MTG) was established by Rowan in 1996 (when a lecturer at The University of Melbourne). Since then, more than 100 regional courses have been conducted across all states and territories involving over 2000 land managers and more than 40 partner organisations. In 2000 the program was awarded the Eureka Prize for Excellence in Environmental Education and in 2013 Rowan led a team to Uganda to run the first international MTG course.
“We will also provide training and support to regional Landcare groups so that they can trial the Peer Group Mentoring concept in their own region,” said Rowan.
The Peer Group Mentoring (PGM) concept was developed by the Otway Agroforestry Network as follow-up for their MTG courses. It involves training farmers, then paying them to work with other landholders in their own region as they design and implement agroforestry projects of their own. The OAN has conducted over 300 site visits and has 25 mentors working regularly with more than 100 farmers.
“In the Otway region we have clearly demonstrated that involving farmers in the design and management of vegetation on their own land leads to a mix of trees and farming that supports, rather than displaces, rural communities,” said Rowan.
Integrating multipurpose trees and shrubs into farming systems will benefit farmers by improving environmental management, protecting and enhancing agricultural production and the potential to provide a variety of tree products from the plantings for diversified farm income. The biodiverse landscapes sequester more carbon and provide improved water quality and habitat for birds and other wildlife including pollinators. With products from agroforestry there is the potential to develop new industries whilst maintaining or increasing the level of traditional farm produce.