Mentors lend a hand

A program to mentor farmers and help them manage and develop their properties is being trialled through the South Gippsland and Yarram Yarram Landcare Networks.

The aim is to match farmers with suitable local mentors who can provide advice and help them develop farm management plans.

As well as working with their individual mentors and visiting each other’s properties. the group gets together regularly to share information.

The eight mentoring partnerships include farms based in Tarwin Lower, Mirboo and Mirboo North, Port Albert, Heath Hill, Devon North, Koonwarra, Fish Creek, Torwood and Woodside.

Scott Elliott, Yarram Yarram Landcare Network Coordinator, said the feedback from the program was extremely positive and a second phase was due to be rolled out in March.

“The initial focus has been on farm mapping and developing management plans.

“We’re hoping to expand that to include looking at permaculture and ways to improve properties, so they get better biodiversity and production outcomes.”

A permaculture workshop is scheduled for later this month.

Port Albert farmers, Sandy and Saul Stainer, have Fish Creek’s Gary Wallis as a mentor and says the program is already yielding benefits.

“It’s excellent to hear other people’s stories and to see how Gary has implemented his ideas. It’s great to meet like-minded people.

“Gary gave us some great ideas and showed his enthusiasm for property conservation.”

The couple said their next step was to develop a total farm plan.

Other participants said the opportunity to meet other property owners, improve their knowledge and being able to ask questions in a safe environment was important.

The mentoring program is an extension of the traditional Landcare focus, where like-minded property owners come together to work on revegetation projects.

It is hoped that similar projects could be rolled out through other Landcare Networks in the future.

The first phase of the mentoring project was supported through funding from the Victorian Landcare Grants.

Phase two will be supported by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Our Catchment Our Community program.

More information about Landcare programs in West Gippsland is available at https://www.wgcma.vic.gov.au/landcare-2

Landcare mentoring program farm walk
Members of the mentoring program on a farm walk with Gary Wallis at his Fish Creek property.