Our farm in Daylesford is zoned ‘farm zone’ and hence it cannot be described as Urban at all. However although hard paved surfaces are rare in farm zoned areas, in many cases so are trees! Because farm zones are reserved for agriculture or grazing, farming has traditionally removed almost all trees from farm properties. Some properties have planted trees as wind breaks on the perimeter, but beyond that the pressure to make the farm economically viable has had many property owners forget the value of trees altogether. The hardships of rural/farm living can be great as there is so much out of ones control: rain events, overall climate conditions/humidity/dryness, pest invasions as well as changes in the market place…everyone wants apples one day and none the next. There is also the sheer physicality of it, the hard labouring, fences that need mending, crops that need harvesting before the next rainfall, seeds that need sowing before the end of spring. So I take my hat off to all of those who have braved farming or are compelled to farm, to bring food to our tables.
In more economically lenient times, or as a result of experience or reflection some farmers have had the opportunity to reevaluate the role that trees play in supporting farming practices. One farm that caught my attention back at University is called Lanark. Every time I read about John Fenton’s work I get goose bumps and feel this wave of emotion. And why? Because what he has done seems so very important to me. Because his approach is transformative. The aerial photographs of Lanark speak a thousand words: beauty and biodiversity abounds.
Lanark is a 800 hectare property.
On our humble 15 acres Ralf and I have began the process of tree planting and have introduced a small wetland too. The wetland has been planted out with various aquatic species to provide habitat for dragonflies, frogs, ducks and birds and the local kangaroos come drinking here too. The wetland plays another important role for us as well. It makes a fantastic swimming hole and recently I have been getting up early to start my day with a swim, bathed not only in water but also in the orchestral sounds of singing frogs.
We are all enjoying our farm renaissance: Ahlia has an unquenchable thirst for swimming in the wetland and Artemisia finds solace in the dirt mounds. And in between swimming and playing we are slowly mapping out where to plant trees and which trees to plant.