Indigenous agriculture before European settlement

More than 120 Gippslanders are better informed about Indigenous agriculture thanks to a WGCMA Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms event.

Event organiser and project manager, Tony Gardner said the packed room was enthralled to hear author and guest speaker Bruce Pascoe in Traralgon last week.

“Bruce presented compelling evidence from early explorers – photos, painting, writing as well as current findings about an advanced farming and trading civilisation,” explained Tony

“He encouraged us to celebrate the achievements of indigenous Australians, citing the world’s oldest grinding stone from 32,000 years ago as proof that Aboriginal Australians were the first to make bread,” continued Tony.

The healthy soils project deals with beef, sheep, dairy and cropping farms talking about grazing management, nutrient and effluent. While this event was focussing on the past Tony believes many of the concepts are relevant to today.

“Instead of cows and sheep we discussed grazing management systems with fire and drafting systems for kangaroos, fish traps and irrigation systems,” said Tony.

“We discussed the great grain belt that crossed the continent as well as the cultivation of crops like the murrnong yam.

“Bruce presented with great warmth and humour and challenged us to rethink some of our beliefs.”

Tony said feedback from participants was overwhelming.

“We had a lot of farmers in the audience, some of whose families had been on the land since early settlement.

“One of these farmers said the event was fantastic and he wished his mother was alive to share some of the learnings he had got with her.

“Others were grateful for the new learnings that had indeed challenged their past beliefs and given them a new outlook.

“We were also thrilled to have Grattan Mullett attending from Gunaikurnai Land and Water Corporation.

“Grattan gave a warm Welcome to Country before Bruce began speaking.”

For more information about the Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms project, please visit the project page.

This event was supported by West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

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