Field day feeds small farmers info

Repair-Restore-Renew 2011
Malanda, Qld - $15,000

The Malanda area was badly affected by both Cyclones Larry and Yasi, which caused extensive damage to dairy properties, resulting in many being sold. The number of large dairy farmers in the Malanda area has dropped from 170 in 2006 to just 50 in 2013. Several properties have been subdivided into smaller farms, and well educated people wanting a tree-change have bought in and are seeking information on sustainable farming practices and disaster preparedness.

These new residents are eager to contribute to rural economic development and be prepared for extreme weather. The annual Small Farms Field Day is the perfect opportunity to feed their curiosity.

The event aims to help landholders diversify and strengthen the regional economy through agriculture.

The recent weather events highlighted the limitation of a centralised food distribution system, and a particular focus this year was on how to enable production and local distribution of food to help mitigate supply issues during times of emergency.

One of the exhibitors at the show is the North Johnstone and Lake Eacham Landcare Association, a grass-roots organisation of 12 volunteers and one part-time employee. They applied to FRRR to support the 2013 field day’s introduction of a Growing Your Small Farms Advisory Centre, giving access to in-depth info and a panel of DAFFQ experts. A Repair-Restore-Renew grant of $15,000 was awarded for advertising costs, production of fact sheets and guides and the farm advisory coordination.

The 2013 Small Farms Field Day was a great success, with demonstrations and talks on such varied topics as trapping wild dogs, horse dentistry, working with donkeys, equine massage, snake identification sessions and growing shiitake mushrooms, bamboo and vanilla. There were even competitions for home-made cheese and tea cosies - plus a celebrity goat milk-off!

The event's tagline was “Big on everything country” and it certainly lived up to this - with 4,000 people through the gates from all over the Tablelands.