Over 2300 people attended some 15 events featuring Polyface Farms’ Joel & Daniel Salatin this past February in Australia & NZ/Aotearoa. Now Joel & Daniel are above the Pacific Ocean somewhere we thought we’d report in on this most successful tour. Everywhere they went they were followed with rains & storms, some too much and some just enough but it was a fitting epilogue to a wonderful series of events where a some disturbance is encouraged!
The launch of Regrarians Ltd. new ‘Fields of Farmers – The Next (re) Generation’ workshops in Canberra & Bendigo with Joel & Daniel Salatin were a great success with a wide variety of ages attending. Unfortunately too many people came by themselves which wasn’t our idea of a best outcome though those who did attend with their family members had from all accounts very interesting conversations on the road home! One attendee told us he and his mum had a great row the whole 2 hour drive home, and others telling us that this workshop opened up a fresh new family conversation. Both outcomes are the start of something and hopefully will lead to these folks ‘getting this sorted’…We’re already planning our next series of these important workshops and are looking to expand them into other markets and include others in their presentation.
The Regrarians Conversations with Joel & Daniel Salatin + Darren Doherty in Bendigo was a great success with a third of the 120+ attendees being children under 16 and many prominent local farmers, policy makers and community/business leaders in attendance. The evening kicked off with an hour of conversational interview by Regrarians’ Darren Doherty with questions ranging from, “who is the person who’ll change agriculture” to “how can we make the supply of locally produced food more convenient” and so on setting the scene for a very interactive and widely participated 2nd hour of open Q&A. A great night and plenty of Facebook/Twitter buzz followed…
The Regrarians RAP (Regenerative AG Practicum) with Daniel Salatin were also a success with good numbers coming along to each of the three consecutive day events:
- Day 1 (Layers/Dairy Cattle) was hosted by the highly regarded Fehring Family at Leitchville in the northern irrigation region of north central Victoria. Eliot Fehring (400acres) is running his collection of retired caravans & buses converted to egg mobile behind Michael & Nicci Hore’s dairy herd on their farm. A great example of running a complementary, symbiotic enterprise where no money changes hands and the agreement is a handshake. Also Elliot has done a great job using otherwise waste materials and using them very effectively to develop a Polyface-style layer operation. We had an amazing lunch provided by Mrs. Helen Fehring with their own slow-cooked Waghu beef, local lamb and some beautiful cakes supplemented by Regrarians Lisa Heenan’s salads and veggies…
- Day 2 (Broilers/Pigs/Cattle) was hosted by Amanda & Ian McClaren of Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chicken in Graytown in central Victoria. Attendees got to see how Amanda & Ian have incrementally developed their well-known broiler operation over the last few years into one that now processes some 6000 chickens/year supplying local markets & restaurants across the region. The very dry conditions in central Victoria this past 5 months has made their project a particular challenge and they’ve had to destock many of their cattle however their pig farrowing operation and broilers continue on unabated. Asides from the production systems we had a great discussion on the need for a ‘Farmer to Consumer Legal Defense Fund‘ (USA) being established here in Australia to provide much needed support to localised and on-farm processing. Lunch was the succulent Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chicken roasted by Lisa Heenan and complemented by local & regional vegies and salads. The day climaxed with a wonderful thunderstorm that brought lovely and much needed rain.
- Day 3 (Pigs/Sheep) was hosted by Victorian Farmers of the Year, Belinda & Jason Hagan of McIvor Farm Foods, Tooborac. This 5th generation farm has gone from being a ‘clapped out sheep farm’ to a thriving 5000 pig per year operation in just a couple of years all while having their 1st child & going through a major family succession. Belinda and Daniel did a great job ‘tag-teaming’ the ‘in-shed’ part of the workshop throughout the day with Jason doing the farm tours and chiming in with his wealth of pig production knowledge. After lunch HD’s Darren Doherty took half of the group up to the new farm which Regrarians has designed and renowned local earth movers, Jennings Earthmoving Services, have got to work on implementing with a series of roads & water harvesting features all following Keyline & Regen10 design principles. Lunch was delicious roast McIvor Farm Foods pork prepared by Jason Hagan (complete with lots of crackling!) and some of their ham along with local & regional salads and vegies prepared by Regrarians’ Lisa Heenan.
Milkwood Permaculture & RegenAG/Free Range Permaculture also hosted very large crowds for their ‘Masterclass’ series with Joel Salatin in Kiama (NSW) and Gatton (QLD) respectively. These organisations always run great events and the Masterclasses featured ‘You Can Farm’ followed by ‘Pastured Poultry’ with ‘Salad Bar Beef & Pigaerator Pork’ rounding off 3 days of intense learning from the master himself Joel Salatin. Joel remarked that the food put on in Gatton was amongst the best he’d ever had which is a great rap for the RegenAG/Free Range Permaculture catering team. The Australian featured an excellent article on the Kiama Masterclasses which attest to their great effect.
There was also the Food Event at Sydney Town Hall that had over 400 people in attendance to support the OzHarvest initiative. Joel got off of the plane at 10am after a long-haul Qantas flight across the Pacific and was on-stage at 12pm firing on all cylinders impressing the socks off of those assembled judging by the very active Twittering going on.
The NZ/Aotearoa leg of the tour was again very ably organised by Greg & Rachel Hart and the team at RegenAG NZ/Aotearoa. Over 100 people attended their 2 day RegenAG NZ/Aotearoa RAP with Joel Salatin at the beautiful Glendhu Station in the picturesque Wanaka region of the South Island. Joel took attendees through all of the systems in commercial operation at Glendhu including sheep, cattle, broilers and layers along with the legals and marketing/logistics and processing issues that are always topical at any Salatin-led event. This trip was rounded off with an impromptu and packed out town hall evening event which gave locals a taste of the wonder of the whole Polyface system and its importance to the regeneration of agriculture.
We would like to thank a number of people & organisations for their support and great work this series:
- Nick Huggins of Permaculture Business World & Jacmarral Farm for hosting Daniel Salatin in Canberra and being a great ‘roadie’ and fantastic support to getting the word out around the broader Canberra region along with Penny Kothe of the Permaculture eXchange who did a great job getting interviews and a lot of pre-event press coverage.
- Gerry Carroll, CEO of Object Consulting (& Founder of Sustainable Business Australia (SBA)) for being the official sponsor of ‘Fields of Farmers – The Next (re) Generation’ workshops. Also for he and his wife Robyn being such wonderful hosts at their Canberra home.
- Australia’s ABC Radio (Radio National & Local Radio) for being so generous in their interest & coverage of these events and for syndicating the various recordings across the broader ABC networks. We love the ABC!!
- Polyface Farms Inc. in Virginia USA for being Regrarians’ partners & for collaborating so well in the months leading up to these events. Especially to Joel & Daniel Salatin for being such wonderful exponents of Regenerative Agriculture and absolute professionals…Also to Teresa, Sheri, Rachel, Wendy & Brie (check out the Polyface Hen House!) for all their Facebook sharing and liking and general great support all the way both before and during the events.
- Greg & Rachel Hart of RegenAG NZ/Aotearoa & the team at Glendhu Station for putting on such a great RegenAG NZ/Aotearoa RAP at Wanaka, these are real farmers making real progress and hats off to them for their continued efforts. Also to Nick Ritar & Kirsten Bradley and the Milkwood Permaculture team for organising & running first class events in Sydney & Kiama along with Kym & Georgie Kruse of RegenAG (Australia)/Free Range Permaculture for doing the same at their Masterclasses in Gatton.
- Costa Georgiadis, host of Gardening Australia and his dad Stan for always making themselves available to host and support our (and many, many others!) work in so many ways.
- Elliot, Helen & Doug Fehring of 400acres Leitchville for their wonderful hospitality, Waghu beef, cakes, great bath milk and also Michael & Nicci Hore for their cooperation and great support.
- Amanda & Ian McClaren of Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chicken for opening up their home and farm to us and for the great work they do in leading the way so well in developing Polyface-style enterprises in central Victoria.
- Belinda & Jason Hagan of McIvor Farm Foods for doing the same and for providing us with a fantastic ‘RAP’ to our RAP! We appreciate their leadership and open outlook to supporting the development of pasture-based, localised trading enterprises.
- Lisa Heenan, Isaebella Doherty, Zane Doherty, Lex Richards & Fabrizio Dose for preparing such wonderful and nourishing feasts for our Victorian events on time and in such correct quantities: who said catering had to be wasteful!
- To our local suppliers of wonderful food, 400acres, Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chicken, McIvor Farm Foods,Bendigo Organics, Bendigo Wholefoods, Pearl Heenan’s Garden, Muskerry Olive Oil & Sprout Bakery Castlemaine.
- To the many people who ‘liked’ and shared on the social networks and passed on postcards and posters, especially Bendigo Community Farmers Market & the Bendigo Sustainability Group.
- And finally to the attendees who took their valuable time to travel to the events, in some cases for days, leaving their farms and families to take part in these events we thank them for their patronage and support. We hope to see you again and wish you all the best with your regenerative farming and living adventures.