A connection between a sheep meat farm called Moorlands, near Dalton in the NSW South Western Slopes and the Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society (OFF) seems very unlikely. Particularly given that a number of OFF’s members are dedicated long term vegetarians. However, Moorlands is not your average sheep farm. Sixth generation farmer Vince Heffernan, with family connections going back to the 1830s, does things differently compared to many of his neighbours. After taking over his father’s conventional sheep farm approximately 20 years ago, Vince changed to biodynamic farming. He uses neither chemical fertiliser nor pesticides on his property in a quest to boost and nurture soil microorganisms and improve its water holding capacity. In addition, Vince utilises a system of rotational grazing. This ensures his sheep feed on small ‘cells’ of pasture for a short time before being moved to other ‘cells’. The grazed, mainly native grasses are left to regenerate before being grazed again in 4-6 months time. This sustainable method of farming is not limited to just producing healthy sheep. Vince is chair of Upper Lachlan Landcare, which acknowledges the lasting indigenous connection to the land and recognises their essentially sustainable management of the land pre-colonial occupation. Over 60,000 locally indigenous trees and shrubs have been planted across his 1200 hectare farm to provide essential habitat for native fauna including endangered species like the Superb Parrot.
“Vince’s enthusiasm and passion for regenerative agriculture, protection of endangered species and returning the landscape to open woodlands was clearly evident during his lively presentation to OFF in February this year. So, with the experience of a number of successful local OFF planting events under our belts, an enthusiastic group of OFF members and friends signed up to a ‘re-greening’ trip to Moorlands 18-19-20th September,” OFF trip organiser Adrian Polhill said. A group of Vince’s friends from Canberra also joined the planting activities to plant 1,800 very healthy native trees and shrubs (provided by Greening Australia) in a 20 hectare paddock which cannot be grazed for the next 5 years. “Everyone involved was physically spent from the sheer effort of achieving the task but elated to have been a part of what is so sorely needed in our country – repair and restoration of our land,” said Mr Polhill.
OFF President, Kim Wagstaff said, “We live in such a biodiverse part of the world and yet so many of our native plants and animals are suffering and actually teetering on the edge of oblivion due to rampant land clearing across vast areas of Australia.” “OFF’s action was small in proportion but hugely significant in that the great divide between city living and rural reality can be overcome and together we can try hard to turn around the dire consequences of ignoring the signs that clearly show that we need to care for the land.” We are hopeful that this can become an annual event in OFF’s calendar of activities.