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Value in supporting new and future small farms

A Small Farms Walk n' Talk, held Saturday 21st November at Rossi near Bungendore, highlighted the value of supporting new owners of small properties and potential farm buyers with information to support good land management decisions. The day provided an opportunity for landholders to walk through and share ideas on the various aspects of property management. The walk n' talk was the first event for the new Capital Region Small Farm Network and received a great turn out of existing and potential small farm owners of the area.

The Capital Region Small Farm Network is a newly established grassroots information service for people who live on small to medium sized rural properties in NSW and ACT near Canberra. The network has been established, following the successful Small Farm Network model from the South Coast of NSW. This network has been created by a group of passionate farmers in the Bungendore region who have identified a gap in the support offered to these landholders.

Feedback from the day was extremely positive, with strong requests by those attending for more events with a focus on offering support to small farm owners in the region, "The Walk n' Talk was a great day out, with lots of practical information provided by people with an impressive depth of technical knowledge, this information is just not easily available for people starting out, events like this help us to get realistic about what we can actually do" (Jennie, small farm owner from Bywong).

Several members of the South East Local Land Service led the discussions, including Matthew Lieschke (Livestock Officer), Donna Hazel (Team Leader - Tablelands and Native Vegetation) and Alice McGrath (Land Services Officer). A wide range of land management topics were raised during the day including managing land to capability, pasture identification skills, pasture management, care of livestock and native vegetation regulations. Other local community organisations assisted on the day including the Captain's Flat Rural Fire Service, who provided valuable information with regard to Fire Management for small blocks, and Land for Wildlife, who provided an overview of the voluntary scheme for landholders. 

There is a lot for new rural landowners to be aware of, such as their legal responsibilities and how their land management choices can impact on the environment, their neighbours and their hip pocket. Well-informed decisions up front regarding activities such as clearing native vegetation and setting appropriate stocking levels can avoid problems for the landholder, the government and the environment. "Purchasing land that is fit for purpose means new rural landholders will be off to a flying start and less likely to strike land management problems" (Donna Hazel, South East LLS).

These small block owners are a significant customer base for South East LLS and continue to grow in numbers, particularly adjacent to the ACT in areas surrounding Bungendore, Michelago and Murrumbateman. South East LLS will continue to support this initiative through the coordination of a series of awareness raising events to be held in the Capital Region, in response to the feedback provided by participants of the Farm Walk n' Talk with a range of topics relevant to the management and protection of land and livestock. Further support will be provided through the development of written resources to assist these landholders with their decision making processes.

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