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The Sun Shines For Landcare’s Tree Planting Day

October 3, 2019

It is a scenic drive out to through Victoria, where the country meets the coast. Picture perfect green hills providing the ideal backdrop to highlight the healthy-looking black and white cattle dotted across the landscape.

On this particular day, as we made our approach towards the farm belonging to Brad and Danielle Carr, two of OSI’s Sustainability 365 farmers, the sun is shining and there is a definite buzz in the air. The two large buses parked at the entrance to the farm had arrived just before us to drop off 120 eager schoolchildren from nearby Wonthaggi Secondary College.

The tree planting had begun. Under the guidance of representatives from Landcare Australia and farm owner Danielle Carr, who is also a member of Landcare, the Year 8 students dug holes in previously marked areas and filled them with indigenous trees provided by Landcare.

Since its establishment in 1985, Landcare Australia has become the biggest environmental management movement in the country. Landcare employs a grass roots approach whereby activities are owned and driven by the local communities. Local groups are usually formed by members coming together to address important environmental issues in their area. United by the desire to affect positive change, these groups recognize that they can have a greater impact by working collectively toward a common goal.

Local groups are supported by the wider Landcare network. Funding for local projects is sourced from local, state and federal governments, as well as from corporate and philanthropic organizations.

With the sun shining, and the target of planting 15,000 trees well within their sights, students, teachers and volunteers worked together enthusiastically to achieve their mission. It took them only a few hours to attain their goal, and a barbeque lunch provided by the Rotary awaited them at the local tennis club as a fitting reward.

Many of the children that participated in the planting understand the importance of maintaining the natural habitat and the regeneration of farmland. These are country kids, many of whom come from farming families. Their appreciation for the outdoors is evident. “The kids could have been at home today, as it is a day off, but they all volunteered to be out here planting trees,” said Nick Silby, science teacher and president of the local Three Creeks Landcare Group.

Landcare undertakes seven to eight plantings in this region each year. Two big plantings are with the schoolchildren.

There is a wonderful sense of community out on the farm, with many local volunteers joining the schoolchildren, Brad and Danielle Carr, and their children.

We took the opportunity to have a brief chat with Helen, one of Landcare’s regular volunteers, who admitted that she most likely gets more than she gives from the experience. Now retired, Helen has also volunteered with the local Senior Executive Service (SES) since 2000. “I volunteer because I value community. It is important to nurture the community. I’m not a baker, so this is how I can contribute,” said Helen, who finds working to protect the environment extremely rewarding. “We have to look after our planet, it’s the only one we have.”

Teagan, a former student of Wonthaggi Secondary College, recalls when she volunteered to do tree planting when she was in high school. Now 21 and studying Outdoor Education at Latrobe University in the Victorian town of Bendigo, Teagan is helping her grandad cook lunch for the large crowd now assembled at the local tennis club. She has a soft spot for the area and believes she too will one day return to her roots. She is passionate about the environment and the outdoors and hopes to also work with Landcare. She says she is proud to have contributed to the protection of the environment and see how the trees she planted years ago have matured.

Today, this community rallies around its hosts, Brad and Danielle Carr. Brad, who, according to Danielle, has gained the reputation of the area’s nicest guy, has been working on his farm since he was a young boy. “It was always my destiny to take over the family farm,” said Brad.

Danielle shares with us her passion for the environment. Before settling on the farm, Danielle worked with animals, mainly with endangered species. She has an enormous respect for indigenous flora and fauna and understands the importance of protecting the natural habitat so that all parts of the ecosystem can work effectively.

“It takes roughly 10 to 15 years for one of the small gum trees being planted today to reach maturity,” explains Danielle as she works alongside her eight-year-old son Roman to fill the holes. It is clear to see how Brad and Danielle’s passion is being passed on to their children. Both Roman and Holly, 10, express their desire to take over the farm one day. They genuinely love all that it represents.

The Carrs make a great team. While Danielle takes care of the animals and the environment, Brad ensures the cattle are well looked after and that they are producing the very best quality for their customers. Animal Welfare is a high priority on the farm, and by taking care of the environment, this extends to the improved wellbeing of their cattle. From the grass to the trees, to fencing and waterways, everything is considered in terms of how it benefits the cattle.

Brad and Danielle’s farm is part of the OSI Sustainability 365 program. The purpose of the program is to recognize farmers who have made sustainable farming practices central to their business and promote positive, practical sustainability activities through continuous improvement in animal management, the environment and their local communities.

The Carrs’ farm is a great example of how sustainable farming practices create ripple effects which benefit every part of the process from the farm to the table.

We take this opportunity to thank David Bateman of Landcare for facilitating our visit, all of the volunteers and schoolchildren for their tremendous efforts in planting the trees, and Brad, Danielle, Holly and Roman Carr for hosting us for what was an inspiring day, made even better by the timely arrival of beautiful spring weather.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this project.

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