August 2010

Cold and drizzle, mud and hilly paddocks – none deter members of WOF West Gippsland! Such was the situation for the August farm visit to an organic farm at Piedmont. With the Latrobe River streaming past and the adjacent forests looming tall and damp, Liz Clay and Wally Brown showed members over their property.

Winter months tend to be dormant ones for fruit trees and vegetable crops. Yet it was an excellent time to see the benefit of green manure crops, composting, fallow paddock management and weed control. With Liz explaining the hard work over many years to control blackberry and bracken fern infestations, the clean result proved the value of the commitment.

Organic farming links to a holistic approach to the environment and life in general. Liz explained the importance of the practices which emphasise avoiding chemical residues and maximising the inter-relationships across soils, climate, plants, animals and the humans who set out to manage them all. In a small acreage in a valley setting near Noojee, Liz and Wally aim for optimal returns from a diversity of products, rather than from any monoculture. Their rich clay soils see harvests of potatoes, maize, beans, peas, carrots, lettuce, strawberries, leeks, beetroots, hazelnuts and more.

Members learned of the requirements for certification and accreditation of organic farming properties. The supporters of farmers markets provide a keen if not guaranteed demand for the certified produce from organic farms such as this.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate. Our September farm visit will be on Tuesday 7 to the small mixed farm of one of our members at Yarragon South. Phone the Secretary for more details – Jean Irvine on 56221236, or, for information about the 2010 calendar of activities look at the website www.womenonfarms.org

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.