We have started an exciting new project at The Pines this year – bush regeneration in order to revegetate the farm, bring back local flora and fauna, to help with the farms ability to cope with increasing drought conditions, to make the farm more sustainable and to give back to the community. We are planning on planting thousands of trees, shrubs and ground cover to bring back coastal sub-tropical rainforest and to plant a native bush tucker forest. To do this we need to remove weeds from throughout the property, hold community planting days and maintain the site. We aim to involve the community as much as possible and to eventually have walking paths throughout the farm so that the public can enjoy the food forest and native flora and fauna.
So a little about me, my name is Charlotte and I will be leading the project with the help of the farm owners, Kel and Mahlah Grey. I have been working for the Grey’s since 2014 at markets stalls throughout the Illawarra and Sydney regions. I have been working in bush regeneration since the start of the year and have also been studying Conservation Land Management at TAFE. I have an undergraduate degree in International Studies and Communications but after finishing my degree I realised that my true passion lies in conservation and regenerative agriculture. So I have begun following this passion and have been lucky enough to be offered to lead this project.
I am so excited to be a part of this project and can’t wait to see all our hard work and planning coming together to create such a beautiful space for the farm and the community. We have Landcare Illawarra involved and they are going to provide all of our seedlings and plants. I’d like to thank Aillee and Richard for all their help in getting this project started.
I have assessed the farm along with Landcare and begun removing Lantana from the native creek line that runs through the property. Lantana is a woody weed that grows into impenetrable thickets up to 4m high (or even taller when it can climb up a tree). Lantana is highly invasive due to the number of seeds it produces, its ability to poison the soil around it in order to stop other plants growing near it and due to the climate in Kiama, is capable to growing, seeding and germinating year round. This poses a risk to not only the farm but neighbouring farms and the larger community as seed from the Lantana on The Pines farm can easily be spread by birds, mammals or people to other areas. Because the creek is smothered by Lantana and Kikuyu grass, my initial priority has been beginning clearing the Lantana so that we can begin planting there in a few months and so that the creek will be able to flow when we receive rain. Lantana is a National Weed of Significance which means we are required to remove it due to its noxious and highly invasive nature.
In removing Lantana, I have begun in the least affected areas and will slowly move towards the most affected areas. This gives fauna who might inhabit the Lantana, such as small birds, lizards and invertebrates, a chance to find a new home and food source, reduces soil erosion as the Lantana is primarily growing on the steepest slopes of the farm and follows bush regeneration principles. On my first day of clearing, my loppers were pretty useless as they were rusted and old so I wasn’t able to do as much as I’d hoped but I’ve bought myself a nice new pair so next time I’m able to get to the farm I will be able to clear more Lantana and it won’t take as long.
I have assessed the flora and fauna on the farm and have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of native fauna present. Unfortunately, due to European farming methods employed on the farm over the last 6 generations there is not much native vegetation on site. There is hope though that once the Lantana has been removed that native seed banks in the soil will be able to pop back up and I have seen evidence of this already with come rainforest pioneer plants such as native Hibiscus (Hibiscus heterophyllus) and Pittosporum species popping up where there’s little Lantana.
We will be holding our first planting day at the end of August followed by a community tree planting day on the last weekend in September. We have a bit more planning to do but it looks like it should be a fun and informative day so if you’ve got some spare time and are keen to come help or even just check out what we’ve been up to feel free to come along. There will be more details posted closer to the event. I will also be updating this little blog to inform people about what we’re up to and to use it as a kind of diary for ourselves so that we can look back on what we’ve been able to accomplish! I’ll be writing more about regenerative agriculture and bush regeneration on the farm in following blogs but also feel free to send me any questions or suggestions. My email is email@example.com.