Eastbourne and Bundalong are two neighbouring farmers who joined forces to improve conditions for the land, the cattle and themselves. Eastbourne, owned by Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown and Bundalong, owned by Mick Green, operate under an informal arrangement so that regenerative agricultural practices can be effectively implemented. You can learn more about their story through the Farming Together webinar, series 1, episode 5.
- The transformation to regenerative agriculture is in infancy however the success lies in the process and the partnership.
- Mick Green looks after 324 hectares in a combination of ownership, lease and management. Mick adopts a couple of key strategies to ensure his farm is regenerative – ‘cell grazing’ and untouched borders (e.g. dam, fence and steep slopes) [Scott Gooding, The Sustainable Diet, (UK: Hachette, 2019)].
- The partnership between the two neighbours continues to thrive and grow after navigating the tricky waters of the start-up of a business arrangement together.
- Profitability through sharing equipment.
- Transitioned 350ha to regenerative agriculture.
The Catalyst for Change
- Gradually recognising that the way they were farming was unsustainable, both economically and ecologically, Rachel began talking about the possibility of farming a different way.
- After fires and drought Rachel destocked all but a herd of breeders.
- Ultimately, the bushfires were a catalyst for change and since then she has jumped boots and all onto the regenerative agricultural trail.
- They joined their herds together and stopped drenching, applying any chemical fertilisers or biocides and began cell grazing their herds. They have added water tanks and more troughs and are now in the process of further dividing pastures and erecting permanent electric fencing.
- Providing consumers with best practice, high welfare, chemical free beef while optimising the health of our soils is their ultimate goal.
- It doesn’t cost a cent to change a paradigm however matching personal and business values with landscape needs can be challenging.
- The risk of jumping into a new frontier of farming with not a huge number of long term practitioners for mentorship in the local area.
- Climate and conditions: they began when all boundary fences were burnt in fire and just emerged from very dry year.
- Fed stock and then sold more than usual so bouncing back and restocking in high market was added pressure.
- Fear, procrastination, intergenerational norms and expectations and negative people.
- Start! And don’t be concerned about the mistakes – that is part of the learning process.
- Transition at a pace you can afford. Holistic financial management planning has really helped to get control of finances.
- Patience. It takes 3 – 5 years for the soil to wake up and transition from years of soil ignorance. Biodiversity improves with time. So know it will come. It is a life time change. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.
- Find a local mentor, or join with someone who is passionate about the same goals and where the sum of your parts is greater than the individual. Engage with passionate and positive people who won’t waste your time.