A year in review …

Actually, it’s more of a journey in review.

My pursuit of an agricultural property and lifestyle may have started from a spark, however, the fuel was always there. Sometimes, I feel something, believe in it so much that I find it difficult to put into words.

This is one such topic.

All my life, I have always loved the concept of the rural lifestyle. From when I was knee high to a grasshopper in the early 70s, I drew images of subterranean, passive and (what we now call) ecocentric homes. So, suffice to say, the romantic images of a self-sustainable, rural lifestyle have been with me for a very long time.

I have had only a handful of true loves and passions in my life. All of them addictions. Consuming me as I consume them.

Food. Nature. Learning.

Each would burn in me as a bonfire at diferent times. My passion is a phoenix. Blazing away until the embers were cold charcoal and another fire would start in their place.

So, I suppose it was inevitable that my passions would lead me down this path once more.

So, when I re-evaluated my life after the near death experiences followed by the mental and emotional breakdown that followed in 2008 and 2009, I came out with a list of many things I wanted my life to have, which were later condensed into what I called “my reasons for waking

I want to wake up every day with a reason. 

I want that reason to mean something. 

I want it to fulfil, empower and drive me.

I do not know what life will bring, but I do know what I want:

  • I want to connect with people. Every day.
  • I want to feel like I have made their lives a little bit better, even if it was a momentary smile.

I may not have the means to make wholesale changes to the structure of society, but I can create a community. So, today, me and Ingy discussed a few things and we are going to work towards buying a hobby farm sometime in the next decade. It will offer:

  • the ability to run a River Cottage style establishment,
  • self contained cottages for guests,
  • a co-operative, supportive and helpful community

The rest we will leave to the graces of the chaos that is the universe for the moment, but it will offer us what we desire – to be a catalyst of change, to be a positive influence on the lives of our guests and ourselves. Most of all, it will give us a lifestyle that will become our reason for waking.

I guess deciding to follow the agricultural path was one that was easy to make. My passion for Agriculture is a mix of all of these aforementioned elements. They have each forged different aspects of my philosophies and views. 

So, I started down the path and looked for landwhich led to my purchasing of Goodrock Park.

Study

So, all of this in turn this led to signing up for courses and completing the nearly 30 odd units (so far!) in pursuit of understanding and bettering the path for myself and the land. These units are a mix of those three initial elements: Food. Nature. Learning. 

Year
Module Code
Unit Name
Result
Location
2010
RTE5516A
DEVELOP A WHOLE FARM PLAN
SC
NMIT
2010
ARE4011A
PROGRAZE (MANAGE PASTURES FOR LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION)
SC
NMIT
2011
BEERES401A
ANALYSE & PRESENT RESEARCH
 SC
NMIT
2011
BEEASS402A
ASSESS COMPETENCE
 SC
NMIT
2011
RTE5916A
BUDGETS & FINANCIAL REPORTS
SC
NMIT
2011
BEEASS301A
CONTRIBUTE TO ASSESSMENT
SC 
NMIT
2011
AHVPAU464
DES/MGE CROP/PASTURE NUTRIT PROG
SC
NMIT
2011
BEEDES401A
DESIGN & DEVELOP LEARNING PROGRAMS
 SC
NMIT
2011
RTE5523A
DEV CLIMATE RISK MGT STRATEGIES
SC
NMIT
2011
RTE5104A
DEV LIVESTOCK HEALTH STRATEGIES
SC
NMIT
2011
RTE5106A 
DEVELOP A LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION PLAN
SC
NMIT
2011
RTE5516A
DEVELOP A WHOLE FARM PLAN
CT
Longerenong
2011
RTE5902A
DEVELOP AND REVIEW A BUSINESS PLAN
RPL
Longerenong
2011
RTE5523A
DEVELOP CLIMATIC RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
RPL
Longerenong
2011
RTE4104A
DEVELOP LIVESTOCK FEEDING PLANS
SC
NMIT
2011
BEELED401A
DEVELOP TEAMS AND INDIVIDUALS
SC
NMIT
2011
RTC5701A
EST & MAINTAIN OHS PROGRAM 
SC
Longerenong
2011
RTE5107A
IDENTIFY/SELECT BREEDING ANIMALS
SC
NMIT
2011
BSBADM506A
MANAGE BUSINESS DOCUMENT DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT   
RPL
Longerenong
2011
RTE5807A
MANAGE STAFF
RPL
Longerenong
2011
AHVBP148
MGE SOILS TO ENHANCE SUSTAINABILITY
SC
NMIT
2011
BEEASS403A
PARTICIPATE IN ASSESSMENT VALID
 SC
NMIT
2011
BSBEBUS506A
MANAGE A BUSINESS WEBSITE
RPL
NMIT
2011
BSBEBUS506A
PLAN AND DEVELOP A BUSINESS WEBSITE
RPL
Longerenong
2011
BEEASS401A
PLAN ASSESS ACTIVITIES & PROCESSES
 SC
NMIT
2011
BEEDEL401A
PLAN/ORG/DELIVER GRP BASED LEARN
 SC
NMIT
2011
BEEDEL402A
PLAN/ORGANISE/FACILT LEARN IN WKPL
SC
NMIT
2011
ASC5914A
PREPARE REPORTS
SC
NMIT
2011
BEEDES402A
TRG PACK’S/ACCRD CRSE CLIENTS NEEDS
 SC
NMIT

These units make up my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and the Diploma of Agriculture as well as partial completion in the Diploma of Agronomy and Advanced Diploma in Agribusiness. Its been tough, especially at then end there where they all competed for time along with an already event filled life and responsibilities.

Understanding and becoming proAGtive

Half way through the year, I had the opportunity to meet with and discuss the agricultural enterprises of a number of individuals. Those conversations awakened another aspect of my journey – agvocating. Once more, those three elements – Food. Nature. Learning. – raised their collective flags and combined to fuel the need to champion the Farm to Fork story. 

The first output was a piece I wrote in regards to what I percieved were the threats to Agriculture as an entrant to the sector. This was later followed by another piece on the importance of the live export trade to Australia (and the world) and that spawned a range of initial forays into being far more public and verbose in my agvocating. This caused me to create a twitter account, along with both a facebook and Google plus page for Goodrock Park. 

This, of course, started spawning a number of differring small projects which were met with a mix of successes (and failures) until I finally merged them all into a single combined “Farming Forward” project.

It’s still early days, and I need to extract aspects of the Goodrock Park blog and site to fit under that umbrella, but I feel that it finally is starting to meet my needs there where the focus is on creating a place to allow people to springboard into the right community of people who want to champion the rural or agricultural issue dearest to them.

Where to from here?

There is a long ways to go. My farmplan is an ever evolving beast with five major projects already under development for the new year, including:

  • the re-vegetation of a 13 Ha Wildlife Corridor, 
  • a 2 Ha Salinity Charge Zone Plantation, 
  • a kilometre of Native Plant based Hedging,
  • a “V8 Soil Experiment” to see if we can turn clay into friable soil,
  • and a residence!

There is still the outstanding units of the two remaining courses and a new part time venture … I’m not sure whether to be excited or terrified at the brightness ahead.

Here’s to the future!

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