The third annual Growers & Producers Long Lunch was hosted on Tuesday October 27 at The Loch on Greenhills Road outside of Berrima in the Highlands.
It was such an appropriate venue, where owner and chef Brigid Kennedy and husband Mark have developed a deserved reputation for serving outstanding food informed and inspired for what’s growing and ready for harvesting on their property that week.
A sold-out venue provided a sense of normality not experienced for six months. Lots of elbow bumps. The depth of encouragement and inspiring ideas shared by no less than 15 speakers left little doubt that, in the Southern Highlands, we are witnessing a transformational attitude to the future that gives hope of new opportunity. The special guest was renowned author Peter Andrews OAM, interviewed by Rob Skinner of local environmental group WinZero.
The list of sponsors was impressive. Major Event Sponsor was Regional Development Australia for the Southern Inland, There were 11 event sponsors. Moss Vale Rural Chamber of Commerce, BEC – Southern Region Business Enterprise Centre, Southern Highlands Food & Wine and The Loch were joined by Agribusiness & Equine Industry Development, Southern Highlands Key Stakeholder Group, Wingecarribee Shire Council, NSW Government and Destination Sydney Surrounds South.
WinZero’s Rob Skinner interviewed special guest Peter Andrews OAM. Andrews has for four decades practiced regenerative agriculture. He is the author of two books and has featured on the ABC TV program, Australian Story. He has gained an increased following throughout Australia and overseas with his fundamental ‘back-to basics’ approach to agriculture and the equine industry.
Now 80 years of age, celebrating his birthday at the event, Andrews started by talking about the importance of understanding thoroughbred horses as a key indicator of environmental and animal health. He talked of the advantages that Australia has, through its abundance of sunlight, to completely restructure energy production and depart from fossil fuels. He stated that “30 years ago the primary concern in agriculture was soil salinity.” Now, he said, the issue is water.
Mr Andrews called for a reverse in the monoculture trends of the past 100 years and fertiliser-intensity of modern agriculture and return to harvesting fresh water through restored wetlands and recycling of green biomass, weeds and all. He said that even in urban areas improved greening density and reassessing the mix of the built environment can rapidly offset adverse CO2 impacts.
He shared statistics of how forest had been removed, but counselled that what Australians need to concentrate on is managing the 60 per cent of available land to re-green it and stop intense over-use and chemical damage that has resulted in extreme soil degradation.
“Whatever plant you take out of the ground, you better be prepared to replace it,” he said. He remained optimistic that the damage done is reversible, as he has proved his theories countless times on his own and other people’s properties. He pointed to his website where he addresses twelve key questions to enable others to improve their own environmental practices.
John Swainston is a local Highlands Photographer, Writer and Business Consultant.
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