Inspiring Small Farms to Grow Big Ideas

Small-Farms-Grow-BigMansfield region is exploring sustainable agricultural practices and horticultural options to diversify production after being awarded a grant from the William Buckland Foundation and FRRR (Foundation of Regional and Rural Renewal).

After much interest, Garlic varities, Caper plants and alternative fertiliser were the products that offered the most gain for environmentally sustainable businesses to be established on small acreage.

Three garlic demonstrations have been set up within the Mansfield Shire. Participants have worked alongside the Project Officer in ensuring that the beds were prepared according to best practice management and a varied number of garlic species trialled, expanding the local market. Tash, one of the participants from Tolmie said “I am looking forward to seeing the results of the demonstration, garlic seems to be tough enough to survive in our climate and against our constant stream of wildlife. Nothing seems to bother it.” Up2Us Project Officer Kim Magnay reiterates this when she said, “Garlic is currently grown in this area, but we are trying to expand the varieties. Preparation is the key and we are using the best materials we can to give them a good start.”

Two Caper demonstrations have been established and once again they are currently grown in this region but Up2Us is investigating different varieties and variations in elevation. Francesca, a Caper grower in Tolmie is so excited about the progress of the Capers. She was unsure about how they would go, but they were planted in October 2015 and have buds within the first year. For those who are not Caper growers, plants with buds after 3 years is normal. Up2Us look forward to how this may progress next summer.

Alternative fertiliser has been tested before and there are certainly positive results for pasture growers. Up2Us’ interest is whether the alternative fertiliser is environmentally sustainable and cost effective small acreage producers. The Project Manager is working closely with the owners in recording rainfall and pasture growth. “We have a nifty electronic pasture measurer, it sure beats using the old cut, dry and measure method” says Kim Magnay about one of the highlights of collecting data on this site, “I hope to be able to demonstrate its use at one of the field days we are going to have.”

Up2Us would like to thank all the participants and the local suppliers who have donated materials and time.