The Foundation for Rural Regional Renewal FRR has awarded Southern Cross University $77,000 for a new project to help young farmers in The Eyre Peninsula form stronger networks to combat drought related challenges.

The networking project is one of 33 initiatives funded by the Networks to Build Drought Resilience program by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and a range of other donor partners. The Networks to Build Drought Resilience program focuses on strengthening social connectedness, building social capital and funding transformative local initiatives that will enable agricultural communities to be more prepared for the impacts of drought.

The project:

Building Drought Resilience In Agriculture-Dependent Communities Through Mapping Young Farmer Information and Support Networks

In this partnership project between Southern Cross University and Agricultural Innovation & Research Eyre Peninsula, a new ‘network mapping’ tool will be used to provide a detailed understanding of the Eyre Peninsula young landholders knowledge network. The project will support the agricultural dependent community of the Eyre Peninsula to build drought resilience by identifying and implementing context-specific strategies through workshops and mapping. Local champions will share key knowledge with young landholders to enhance networking opportunities around drought-resilient practices.

The program draws on existing research that’s been undertaken by Southern Cross University’s Dr. Hanabeth Luke through the Soil CRC, with a deep understanding of the local landscape. Dr Luke’s research found there was a significant need to assist young farmers in the Eyre Peninsula build stronger support networks.

Farming Together Program Manager Amanda Scott said, “We will work closely with a lot of the young farmers in the region as well as the agricultural innovators and researchers. We’re going to use a tool that’s called Network Mapping.

“We know that networks are the glue that binds communities together and networks are the conduit for collective action, but it’s really difficult to get an accurate picture of what a network in the community actually looks like.”

“This network mapping tool enables us to uncover some hidden patterns and lets us see some connections or some gaps that perhaps we couldn’t see before.”

“We can see, for example, where there might be blockages in where communications are not reaching the young farmers, or we can also Identify some of these champions — they may be people, they may be events, they may be organisations that are really connecting with these young farmers and we can help channel more information and support through these champions,” Ms Scott said.