How do we get city folk to understand and appreciate farmers issues?
The Mid-Loddon Network, situated west of the rapidly growing City of Bendigo, is made up of six Landcare groups and one conservation management network. Its members are established farming families and blockies, all with an eye on looking after their bit of country.
The Network’s first CLEA session was run at a regular committee meeting in 2015, in the South Lockwood Primary School. There were many things weighing on the minds of committee members, but what they decided was most critical to the long-term future of the Network was their relationship with people living in Bendigo:
“How do we get city folk to understand
and appreciate farmers’ issues?”
Once on the very fringes of Bendigo, several of their groups were feeling the effects of new landholders who neither understood nor cared much for the place where they had settled. New to these communities, people on small lots and new subdivisions did not often have time to form links within their new community.
The Network has now tested many ways to connect to environmental enthusiasts from Bendigo and Melbourne. Here's a snapshot of what they have found connects urban people to rural people and to Landcare projects:
presentations to urban environment groups - some get interested, some don't want to move outside their present interests and territory;
farm visits for the general public and for students - nothing beats kicking the dirt with a real farmer;
approaching monitoring as citizen science - if they know it is science, people are more willing to put the effort in;
crowd-sourcing (not successful), Open Garden event (good numbers) and garden art metal Curlews (selling like hot cakes)
keep talking to agencies - they control what you can do on public land.
Read the details at right: "MLLN QWEA 2015" for the Committee's thinking at the start of the process; "MLLN QWEA Review of Progress 2017" for a look at what they out tried first.
Listen to up-date from Network facilitator Judy Crocker.