Connector Newsletter – Issue 14

July – September 2017


From the Executive Officer

I would like to acknowledge the financial support provided by the State Government in the form of a one-off grant of $20,000 through DELWP to assist us in working through our cash flow issues.

Good news was received earlier this week when Frankston City Council passed a resolution to rejoin and support the Biosphere Foundation. We welcome their decision and look forward to working to strengthen our relationship with Frankston City Council and our other Biosphere councils.

A milestone was reached with the successful completion of the Growing Connections project. On Friday 30 June 2017 the 3rd Annual Biodiversity Forum was attended by over 100 people comprising a very broad cross section of the Biosphere community. Local government, agencies and community groups attended to hear Growing Connections Project Coordinator Chris Chambers outline the achievements of the project. Success has been achieved through cooperation of our project partners and the participation of many volunteers working on the various on ground projects and providing their valuable input in the development of the Biodiversity Plan.

I thank our partners, volunteers, and Biosphere staff, Chris, Sally and Karen, for their hard work on this project.

Cecelia Witton, Executive Officer, Western Port Biosphere


Growing Connections

The Growing Connections Project officially came to a close on 30 June 2017, although we are still busy finalising reporting which will be complete by mid August 2017.

As mentioned in the last Connector newsletter, we have been busy working with our partners finalising the outcomes of the project. Some of the highlights have been seeing the Downs Estate Community Group run their first planting day on their reserve, which is immediately north of Seaford Wetlands. The day was well attended with many families planting hundreds of trees and shrubs to help protect the wetland and create a new biolink across the north of the site. After many years of planning and working towards the formation of the group, it was great to see it all come to fruition.

We also held the final two bus tours with the Bunurong Land Council which focussed on the landscapes of Casey and Cardinia, and Bass Coast. In total 120 people participated across the three bus tours, learning a little about our local Indigenous culture and some of the important sites for the Indigenous community and how these were used. Thank you again to the Bunurong Land Council for partnering with us to deliver these special events.

On 30 June 2017 we held the third annual Western Port Biosphere Biodiversity Forum which was attended by around 100 people from various government agencies, community groups, and community members. Our keynote speaker was Vanessa Craigie, Policy Officer from the Biodiversity Plan Team at DELWP, who spoke about the new statewide Biodiversity Plan and how we can all get involved in delivering the desired outcomes.

Vanessa Craigie, Policy Officer, Biodiversity Plan Team, DELWP

Other Forum presentations included an overview from the Biosphere of the Growing Connections project and what has occurred, as well as talks from Growing Connections partner organisations (Mal Legg talking about works we have done around the City of Casey, Glenn Brooks-MacMillan and team members from Cardinia Catchment Landcare and Dave Bateman from Bass Coast Landcare Network) about their involvement, and a presentation from the Bunurong Land Council covering various aspects of Indigenous culture. Presentations and photos from the Forum will be uploaded to the Biosphere’s website.

Adam Magennis, representing the Bunurong Land Council

We are currently completing calculations for the final results for aspects of the project, such as the biodiversity monitoring, areas treated on ground, pest control activities, and carbon captured through on ground works. All the results will be available in our final report which will be published in late July/early August 2017. We will also provide a snapshot of these in the next issue of Connector.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank each and every person who has been involved with and supported the Growing Connections project over the last five years. Without your support none of the fantastic outcomes we have achieved would have been possible.

Chris Chambers, Growing Connections Project Officer, Western Port Biosphere.


Ramsar

What are Ramsar wetlands?

Ramsar Wetlands are crucial foraging and resting areas for migratory birds.

The signing of the Convention on Wetlands took place in 1971 at the small Iranian town of Ramsar. Since then, the Convention on Wetlands has been known as the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention’s broad aims are to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve, through wise use and management, those that remain.

The Ramsar Convention encourages the designation of sites containing representative, rare or unique wetlands, or wetlands that are important for conserving biological diversity. In designating a wetland as a Ramsar site, countries agree to establish and oversee a management framework aimed at conserving the wetland and ensuring its wise use. Wise use under the Convention is broadly defined as maintaining the ecological character of a wetland

Australia is signatory to treaties with China, Japan and Republic of South Korea covering the East Asian Australiasian Flyway these treaties are referred to as CAMBA, JAMBA and ROKAMBA.

Wetlands play an important role in landscape function, including cycling of carbon, water and nutrients, food production, water purification, regulation of flows, provision of habitats, tourism and recreation services. The role of wetlands in carbon sequestration and storage is vital. Clearing or drainage of wetlands can lead to large losses of stored organic carbon to atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Western Port Ramsar Site
In 1982, a large portion of Western Port was designated as a wetland of international importance under the Convention. The site occupies approximately 59,950 ha and consists of large shallow intertidal areas dissected by deeper channels, and a narrow strip of adjacent coastal land in some areas. The site has long been recognised for its diversity of native flora and fauna, particularly for its ability to support diverse assemblages of waterbirds and wetland vegetation, including seagrass, saltmarsh and mangroves. The Western Port Ramsar Site also supports a number of socio-economic and cultural values.

Australia has a number of obligations pertinent to the management of wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. Australia is expected to manage Ramsar wetlands so as to maintain their ecological character. The recently published Western Port Ramsar Site Management Plan has adopted “the principle that by maintaining (or improving) ecological character, the socio-economic and cultural values associated with the Ramsar site will be conserved, within the concept of wise use”.

Wetlands are increasingly recognised as being of value to society, yet the history of their use in Australia has been one of widespread degradation due to grazing, cropping, clearing and draining. What remains of Western Port’s wetlands are predominantly located on private land. This is why Western Port Biosphere Reserve is engaging coastal land holders to improve land management practices through restoration and native and pest fauna monitoring, and the broader community to understand and appreciate the values and threats to the Ramsar site through workshops and field days.

These projects have been made possible with Australian Government funding to implement the ‘Protecting the Ecological Values of the Western Port Ramsar Site’program. Partners include the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Park, Mornington Peninsula Shire, City of Casey, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, and Western Port Biosphere Reserve.

The program aims to reduce threats to the site, such as pest plants and animals, and increase community understanding of the importance of wetlands and how to protect them. The focus is on habitats above the low tide mark from saltmarshes and mangroves to the fringing woodlands.

If you are interested in participating in this project, contact the Biosphere’s Project Officer, Sally Jacka email: sally@biosphere.org.au Tel: 03 5979 2167.

Story and photos, Sally Jacka, Project Officer, Western Port Biosphere


Water Stewardship

New Water Stewards
We have had several new farms, businesses and organisations commit to develop a Site Water Stewardship Plan for their properties. These include Moonlit Sanctuary (Langwarrin Creek Catchment), The Briars and The Garden Vineyard (Balcombe Creek Catchment), Rain, Hayne and Shine Farmyard (Hastings North Catchment), Balls Nursery (Rodds Creek Catchment), and BlueScope Western Port (Hastings North Catchment). All these sites are committed to improved water stewardship for their properties and their catchments, which contributes to the improved sustainability and biodiversity of the Biosphere.

Water Stewards Training
We have conducted three training sessions in the past few months. The half-day training helps water stewards kick start their Site Water Stewardship Plans and by the end of the session they have the bones of their plan underway. Participants get expert one-to-one help from experienced trainers from the Biosphere and the Alliance for Water Stewardship. The workshop also provides an opportunity to learn the background to water stewardship. An additional benefit is the knowledge sharing between landholders. We are really pleased that our participants have all taken away information, not only on water management, but other practices which improve their enterprise. We hope this is the start of growing a water stewardship community in the biosphere. Why not join us at an upcoming session in July or August? Email Lance (lancel@biosphere.org.au), call the Biosphere office (03 59792 167) or visit www.biosphere.org.au/biosphere-projects/water-stewardship.

Regional Recognition
The Biosphere has developed a regional recognition program to support and acknowledge our water stewards.

Landholders, businesses and organisations developing a Site Water Stewardship Plan with a signed commitment with the Biosphere are entitled to use the Water Stewardship logo (below) on their documents and websites (with a link back to the Western Port Biosphere Water Stewardship Project website). Supporters and partners can also participate this way with agreement from the Biosphere.

Water Stewards who have completed their Site Water Stewardship Plans using the Biosphere accredited template (which conforms to the International Standard for Water Stewardship), completed a self-verification assessment and had their Plan checked by a member of the Biosphere’s Water Stewardship team with Advanced Water Stewardship Training, will receive a gate/office sign (below) in recognition of their achievement.

The first water steward to receive this regional recognition will be announced in July on the Biosphere’s Facebook page and website.

This is your opportunity to be recognised as a leader in water management in your community; improving water quantity, water quality and biodiversity outcomes within the Biosphere Email Lance (lancel@biosphere.org.au) or call the office (03 59792 167) to get involved in the program as spaces are running out.

Lance Lloyd, Water Stewardship Project Officer

The Biosphere gratefully acknowledges our Water Stewardship Project partners and supporters.


Growing Connections – Cardinia Creek Catchment

Now nearly 15 years old, Cardinia Catchment Landcare have enjoyed many years of on ground improvements in respect to protecting and enhancing biodiversity within the Cardinia Creek catchment. Covering an area starting in the hills of the Dandenongs including headwaters for Muddy, Cardinia, Stoney, Brisbane, Gum Scrub and Grasmere creeks all the way down to Clyde and across to Officer.

Over the years assisting landowners address weeds and plant trees on their properties has been our main service. In recent years just prior to applying for the Growing Connections program landcare took on land management of a very significant stretch of land in Beaconsfield called Cardinia Creek Conservation Reserve. This land is nestled between the Cardinia Parklands managed by Parks Victoria, Beaconsfield Flora & Fauna Reserve managed by friends of Cardinia Creek and Cardinia Shire, City of Casey managed land, Melbourne Water land, Guys Hill Reserve managed by Cardinia Environment Coalition aswell as many private landowners.

Four years later thanks to the funding through the Growing Connections program our landcare group has been able to work with all of these stakeholders along Cardinia Creek and invest significant resources into weed control, pest animal management, planting vegetation, raising community awareness and most of all engaging landowners in taking their own action onground.

These activities over these years has not only delivered valuable onground outputs, but has helped build the capacity of the group in developing several people skills within the group and the wider Southern Ranges Environment Alliance, including the Community Weed Alliance of the Dandenongs.

These skills have taken our members to many projects throughout the Dandenongs to deliver the Dandenong Ranges Bushfire and Weed Irradiation Program with over $3M in projects.

The future is bright with another $2M in investment and over fifteen young and enthusiastic members throughout the network assisting groups hit all of those threats to our ever declining biodiversity.

The way the program works is to target some public land in need of attention and develop a management plan through engaging experts to train our members on how to identify the environmental assets. Then stepping through the threats to these assets. Tools such as GPS, internet, videos, photos and computers are used to build a management plan that covers five years. Actions are recommended and a budget developed.

A member is nominated as a project manager and they become the lead person to ensure the works are carried out. Thanks to the Growing Connections Program our project managers have been able to leverage off this investment in attracting further funding through a number of programs including local government, stage government and federal government.

We have promoted animals such as Platypus and Powerful Owl as reasons for protecting the habitat of the creek and are now building on our program to include species such as Helmeted Honeyeater, Lead Beater’s Possum and the Swift Parrot.

All of this progress would not have been possible without the Growing Connections Funding which enabled our group to ‘fill the gaps’ along the creek that have for so many years been neglected.

We thank Chris Chambers for his support of the program and our stakeholders such as Marianne Sawyer and Rob Jones from Cardinia Council, Simon King and Mandy Munroe from City of Casey, Mick Van der Vreede and Andrew Van Vloten from Parks Victoria, Gavin Brock and Elisha Calle from Melbourne Water, Geoff Lockwood and Elizabeth Fraser from Cardinia Environment Coalition and many many private landowners along the creek.

For further information on how to start your own neighbourhood program in your area or just become involved contact Glenn Brooks-MacMillan, President Cardinia Catchment Landcare on 0428 427 004 or info@cclg.net.au.

Story and photos, Glenn Brooks-Macmillan, President, Cardinia Catchment Landcare


Successful Hooded Plover breeding season on the Peninsula

The Hooded Plover could be considered the iconic fauna species of the Mornington Peninsula. This diminutive shore bird selectively favours our ocean beaches where, over the busy breeding season from September to April, it occupies specific breeding territories to lay its eggs. The exposed nests are usually found above the high tide mark on the beach or dune and are incubated for 28 days. The chicks that hatch must survive for 35 days, feeding along the shoreline before they are able to fly.
The threats to their survival are numerous. Many nests are washed away by high tides and large swells. Eggs and chicks can be predated by a host of species including ravens, gulls, magpies, foxes, cats, dogs and various birds of prey. Nests and chicks can be inadvertently crushed by humans, dogs, horses and beach vehicles. Chicks can starve because disturbance prevents them feeding and nests can fail because disturbance keeps adults from incubating the eggs.

According to Dr Grainne Maguire, project manager of Birdlife Australia’s Beach-nesting Team, this attraction to our Mornington Peninsula beaches may be to the detriment of the species. Of the 28 coastal reserves and national parks managed by Parks Victoria, the Mornington Peninsula National Park (MPNP) has the largest number of Hooded Plovers. From recent surveys, we know there are around 35 breeding pairs plus additional birds actively competing for these prime territories. Thus the Mornington Peninsula is home to around 12% of the total Victorian population of 550 Hooded Plovers.

However, this is the dilemma. According to Dr Maguire’s research, of all the reserves and National Parks managed by Parks Victoria, the MPNP has in recent years had the lowest rate of chick survival. So birds are actively and preferentially taking up breeding sites on Mornington Peninsula beaches with a very poor likelihood of success.

The Good News
But this season something has changed. It is pleasing to report that this year the Mornington Peninsula was the most successful breeding area in the state with 13 chicks fledged. A remarkable figure considering that in the previous three breeding seasons there had only been 11 chicks fledge altogether. The last double digit fledgling count was 10, back in the 2006/2007 season. So, encouraging news for the volunteers and communities that donate so much of their time to the conservation of this species

The reasons for the success are hard to pinpoint. Better nest/chick management, public education, community involvement, fox control, and simple luck are probably some of the key factors. However the higher fledgling counts must be maintained over a far longer period before we can really consider that the population of Hooded Plovers on the Mornington Peninsula is sustainable.

Parks Victoria, BirdLife Australia and the Friends of Hooded Plover Group would like to thank all the volunteers, community groups and residents for their ongoing support. The work continues.
For more information please contact hploversmornpen@gmail.com.

Story and photos, Mark Lethlean, Friends of Hooded Plover Group


Downs Estate

The Down’s Estate Community Project Inc (DECP) is located at Harry Down’s old farm site on Old Wells Road, Seaford. We have had a Licence with Frankston City Council since April 1, 2017 to create positive community and environmental initiatives on this site. Thousands of volunteer hours have been invested in building support for this project from 2011. We are a proud member of Frankston Environmental Friends Network.

We were most fortunate last year to receive a grant from the Western Port Biosphere for revegetation on the west side of the Shared User Path (not in our Licence) as ‘Friends of Down’s Estate’.

The plantings of native overstorey trees are intended to create part of a wildlife corridor at the north of the Estate, which has a history of cattle use and some weed infestation. Seaford Wetlands is at the southern boundary.

In collaboration with Frankston Council and officers, and with assistance from the Western Port Biosphere, Frankston Indigenous Nursery, Melbourne Water, The Tree Doctor, Gidja Walker and Lions Club Frankston, DECP invited the community to come to Down’s Estate on June 4 to plant a variety of natives including swamp, manna and red gums, swamp paperbark and drooping sheoak.

We had great weather and a wonderful community attendance of around 50 people including many primary age and younger children, making around 60 with Committee, Council Officers and Rangers. Around 600 trees were planted with trees guards and everyone seemed to really enjoy the experience, including first timers.

One week later, with trees guards checked, almost all tuber stock looks to be doing very well. There are around 400 still to plant and suitable spots will be found for local students, DECP and a contractor to complete the job.

A great step forward in revegetating Down’s Estate Seaford and improving the Biosphere Reserve!

Story and photos, Maureen Griffin, Secretary, Downs Estate Community Project


Know your recycling

The recent ABC series War on Waste put the spotlight on just how much food, clothing and other waste is thrown out by Australians (we generate 52 mega tonnes a year), and started a conversation about what we can do to help.

One way we can all play a part is through recycling. Many of us aren’t aware of just what can – and can’t – be recycled in our municipality – so we asked the five local councils within the Biosphere Reserve.

If you live or work in a council/shire that doesn’t recycle soft plastics, you can visit REDcycle to find out more about recycling soft plastics and where to drop them off. Sustainability Victoria also has lots of information on business recycling and household recycling.

You can also visit the Responsible Café website to find cafes near you that offer a discount when you bring in a reusable cup. Or if you’re a business, sign up to the pledge for your chance to be promoted locally and around Australia.

Bass Coast Shire

Learn what can and can’t go in your recycling bin
Find other disposal options for items not accepted in household bins

Bass Coast Shire is introducing a three-bin kerbside recycling system in September 2017: a landfill bill, a recycling bin and a new organics bin. The organics bin, which will be collected weekly, can be used for food scraps including meat, seafood, bread and dairy products, garden and green waste, kitty litter, pen manure, tissues and paper towels. This organic waste will be processed into certified organic compost which is returned to farms to improve soils.

To keep the process clean and easy, along with the three bins residents will receive a kitchen caddy and year’s supply of compostable caddy bags. People are encouraged to put their organic waste in their bag lined caddy, tie up the bags when full, and then place the caddy bag in the green lidded bin. It’s important to use the compostable bags supplied to prevent contamination.

Cardinia Shire

Learn what can and can’t go in your recycling bin
Find other disposal options for items not accepted in household bins

Some tips from Cardinia Shire:

  • Recyclables don’t necessarily have to be washed out beforehand. Most recycling systems can cope with this now.
  • When recycling plastics don’t worry about the numbers, do the scrunch test. Easy to scrunch plastic is a flexible plastic (which is recyclable in Cardinia Shire, all bagged together in one bag – read more here), hard and ridged plastics that maintain their shape (plastic bottles, Tupperware etc.) go loose in the recycling bin.
  • Don’t worry about taking the bottle caps off plastics bottles. These can easily fall through recycling sorting machines. Keep them on and the different plastics will be sorted in the recycling process.
  • Small beer bottle caps can be collected in a regular food can (baked beans, chopped tomatoes etc.) – just squash the can closed when full.

City of Casey

Learn what can and can’t go in your recycle bin
Find other disposal options for items not accepted in household bins
Casey residents will receive their new waste and recycling calendar in their letterbox in July/August.

Frankston City Council

Learn what can and can’t go in your recycle bin
Find other disposal options for items not accepted in household bins

Take a look at Council’s Talking Rubbish videos, a series of six short, humorous video clips to help you understand what items go in which bin.

Mornington Peninsula Shire

Learn about can and can’t go in your recycle bin
Find other disposal options for items not accepted in household bins

You can also download the Shire’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle book

via Bass Coast Shire, Cardinia Shire, City of Casey, Frankston City Council and Mornington Peninsula Shire


Decluttering solutions

If you are clearing out clutter at home, in the garden or the workplace, you can take most of your recyclables, hard waste, green waste and more to the Frankston Regional Recycling and Recovery Centre (FRRRC).

Many items are accepted at no charge or for a low cost, with most customers spending an average of $30 a visit. Sort your load and save before you arrive, making it easier to identify what’s recyclable, to save you even more money at the gate.

More than half of items taken to FRRRC are recycled – helping to reduce landfill.The centre is proving very popular with residents and businesses as they are pleasantly surprised by its affordability. The site is also clean and easy to use with wide sealed roadways helping support safety.

Tradies are also welcome, with all types of builders rubble accepted including timber, bricks, concrete and green waste.

Paint and paint tins add to the long list of items accepted free-of-charge at FRRRC, which also includes e-waste, TVs, whitegoods, cardboard and scrap metal. FRRRC is not a landfill site and does not accept food, liquid or hazardous waste.

FRRRC is open 7 days, 8am–4pm, 20 Harold Road (off Ballarto Road) in Skye.

Details on accepted items including a full list of what’s accepted free-of-charge, visit: FRRRC.com.au or phone 1300 322 322.

Katrina Bowman, Communications Officer Publications, Frankston City Council (Photo: Frankston City Council)


Decades of the hide

What has 35 heads and twice as many legs and is really cool? You guessed it! The cohort of volunteers which opens the Edithvale Bird Hide on weekend afternoons to the public. And these are the most recent in a long line of such people stretching back through the years.

Did you know that the hide was built in 1979 by the then Dandenong Valley Authority which had left over building materials from a project in Frankston? The spot was chosen because it was on the very edge of the water and a popular viewing site for local bird watchers.

Barring the four to five years when it was closed because the footings were rusted out, it has been open to the public on weekends more or less continuously courtesy of volunteers – firstly by willing members of the Wetland Advisory Committee, many of whom became inaugural members of Wetland Watch which later transformed into the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands Inc. Over the years, weekend visitors have numbered in the tens of thousands, and hundreds of community and school groups have visited on other occasions.

The hide overviews vast expanses of water and is brilliant for bird watching and photography. Now (winter and the coming spring) is a great time for viewing. Make a visit, you won’t be disappointed. The hide is on Edithvale Road, and open Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 – 5:00 pm. Group visits can be arranged by appointment at other times.

Robin Clarey, Friends of Edithvale Wetlands


Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network update

The Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network’s biolink planning project, ‘Linking the Mornington Peninsula Landscape’ (LMPL) is in its third year and is focussing on the Red Hill South and Dunns Creek regions. There are now 12 landholders involved in the Red Hill South Landcare Group biolink within the target area outlined in the map below. They gathered on 17 June to talk about their properties and their proposed biolink plans. Dunns Creek Landcare has also had great success recruiting landholders and will be conducting a similar event in the near future.

For more information on the LMPL project, please contact Michele Sabto, Project Coordinator for LMPL, linkingmplandscape@yahoo.com.au.

Launch of GB2AS
Exciting times are ahead as the MPLN launched our Greens Bush to Arthurs Seat Biolink project on Saturday 29 April. This project will connect these two significant areas of remnant vegetation through weed/pest control, fencing and revegetation across around 20 private properties, bringing to life the exciting vision of the MPLN and the community.

Present were the landholders involved in the project, Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Bev Colomb, Shire Councillors Antonella Celli, David Gill and Simon Brook, PPWCMA staff including CEO David Buntine and Strategy Coordinator Dr Rebecca Koss, Simon Thorning, Team Leader of the Natural Systems Team at the MP Shire, interested individuals and NRM professionals.

Michelle Sabto, Project Coordinator of the ‘Linking the Mornington Peninsula Landscape’ biolink planning project, was recognised for her assistance in the planning of the project and the Natural Resources Conservation League (NRCL), who fund the LMPL biolink planning work. A nestbox for microbats, built at a workshop the week prior, was unveiled and later signed by those present. Biolink landholder Ian Paterson demonstrated his drone, which will be used to record change over time in vegetation cover and quality.

Thanks to all of you who were able to come along and especially to Justine Grover and Ian Beattie for hosting the event. We are grateful to the Victorian State Government and PPWCMA for providing $300,000 through the Victorian Government’s Our Catchments, Our Communities initiative

Like the @GB2AS Facebook page (Greens Bush to Arthurs Seat Biolink) to stay up to date with this exciting project! For more information, contact Jacqui Salter: jacqueline.salter@mornpen.vic.gov.au , phone 5950 1279.

Jacqueline Salter, Landcare Facilitator, Mornington Peninsula Shire.


In the spotlight…

In this issue we talk with Lisa Brassington who recently won the Hort Connections – 2017 National Award for Excellence – Women in Horticulture

What is your role?
My work week is split between ‘two hats’: One is at Peninsula Fresh Organics, where I work in a Quality, Innovation and Land Management role.

The second is with Mornington Peninsula Shire, as a Senior Strategic Planner, in the Tootgarook Wetland Project Manager role.

What does a typical day look like for you?
My day on the farm ranges from the food safety and certified organic accreditation paperwork, as at all times we need to keep track of the end-to-end farm production activities.

Wayne Shields (Farm Owner and Market Gardener) and I talk about consumer trends, industry challenges and about new opportunities for vegetable variety trials.

I enjoy checking out the harvested vegetables before they are sent to the wholesale markets, and am always amazed at the quality, size and natural fragrance of farm fresh produce. It’s rewarding to talk with people who visit the farmgate shop (Thu/Fri/Sat), to see their excitement when they see vegetables they have never eaten before, and to help them decide how to eat them!.

Shields Farming family are Peninsula Fresh Organics, which is a certified organic horticultural production farm; the farm enjoys the opportunity to work with the Biosphere and Landcare on various environmental projects such as the Biosphere’s Water Stewardship Project, and the Organic Growers discussion group. The farm includes regenerative farming methods, which Wayne (farmer) uses inputs from nature to feed the land, building beneficial soil health, and harvesting excellent quality produce, all with a lighter impact on the natural environment, for his next generation of farmers.

You recently won the prestigious Women in Horticulture Award. Can you give us some background to winning the award?
I believe the combination of my passion for horticulture and Australian agriculture, in balance with land capability and nature, partnered with inclusive communication, face to face and via social media, contributed to the honour of receiving the award. In the last 12 months, I have been a Victorian finalist for the 2017 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s award, participated in the National Rural Women’s Coalition sustainable farming e-learning program, and thanks to a scholarship from AUSVEG, I am undertaking a Masterclass in Horticultural Business, which is essentially a mini-MBA for Agriculture and Horticulture people. Locally, I’m involved in the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA’s Women in Sustainable Agriculture (WiSA) group, which has built my confidence to initiate, share and promote sustainable agriculture ideas with support of the group, and in my spare time, I am on the organising committee for the Women on Farms Gathering 2018, which will be held on the Mornington Peninsula.

What impact do you hope winning the award will have on your work within the horticulture and agricultural areas generally, and the Peninsula specifically? And can you share any of your plans for the future?

I hope it will highlight the importance of Australian horticulture, to consumers and chefs, when planning and selecting your meal ingredients, three times a day. My hope is that I become more hands-on at the farm, and off-farm, I’d like to know more women in horticulture around all the Australian Agricultural regions. I enjoy a good rural chat, so I would like to host a Mornington Peninsula “Horticultural Industry” forum, to work out how we can retain sustainable agriculture in the region for the next 100 years. Then, more widely, speak at field days, and at conferences, about the challenges and amazing advances in the horticultural industry, and perhaps become involved in new organic seedling varieties on-farm trials. My passion for working in a certified organic system of fresh produce farming is in balance with my great respect and value for Mother Nature and the Australian environment. My farm manager has five generations of market gardening and farmland knowledge that is brilliant to watch in action, and his farmland benefits from his commitment to certified organic farming. On the innovation front, I have “Ducks: Stirred not Shredded”, a nonlethal waterbird disruption pest management program, to divert ducks away from eating vegetables and back to their native habitats and diets, in the design phase, stay tuned….

What is your vision for women in horticulture and agriculture?
Locally, I invite more Mornington Peninsula rural and farming women to be involved in the Phillip and Westernport CMA’s Women in Sustainable Agriculture (WiSA) group, to enjoy attending farm knowledge sharing field days. Regarding social and network connections, we invite all local women to the annual Women on Farms Gathering in March 2018, held for the first time in our district, in Rosebud. At a State and National level, my vision is for women to be as hands-on and involved in agriculture, that matches their level of passion for farming. Modern farming takes many hours in the day, to balance Ag work, rest and family time.

My 2017/18 mantra, reflecting on the award is: Be brave, be bold, be inclusive, be happy and be smart. Literally, be you.


Farm paddock trees on French Island

Farm paddock trees are an iconic image across our rural landscape, however many paddock trees are reaching senescence and there is very little recruitment of new trees. Grazing pressures, nutrient build up, soil compaction, insect attack and ring barking by livestock are leading to their premature mortality.

If something isn’t done now to reverse this loss, research shows that most paddock trees will be lost in the next 50 years.

On Sunday 11 June 2017, 15 people took part in a trial on a property on French Island to promote the germination of farm paddock trees.

They experimented with two different trial methods used to promote germination of soil-stored tree seed; these methods include scraping and dense planting of black wattles.

Guest speaker Gidja Walker talked about how indigenous species have seeds that persist in the soil for decades. Black Wattle grow fast and rapidly colonise disturbed land and fix nitrogen in the soil.

Farmers attending the event have increased skills and knowledge to trial these methods on their own farms, ensuring the survival of paddock trees and maintaing productive farms through quality shade and shelter for livestock.

This event was part of the Sustainable Agriculture project. The project is supported by the PPWCMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. For more information contact Sarah Halligan on 03 8781 7900.

via PPWCMA website


An Uncertain Future – Australian Birdlife in Danger

On Saturday 1 July, a large crowd joined author and educator Geoffrey Maslen at Coolart Homestead and Wetlands, for the launch of his latest book: An Uncertain Future – Australian Birdlife in Danger.

Renowned Australian twitcher and comedy writer, Sean Dooley, launched the book with a humorous tribute to Geoff; other speakers included Max Burrows, President of Birdlife Australia’s Mornington Peninsula branch, and Dr Rohan Clarke, whose stunning bird photography graces the book. The launch, which fittingly took place in Coolart’s bird observatory, was hosted by the Friends of Coolart.

An Uncertain Future explores the challenges faced by our fragile beautiful birds due to disappearing habitats and the effects of climate change. It is a must-read for those with a fascination for birds and an interest in the environment.

Following the launch, guests attended a reception and book signing at glorious Coolart Homestead, and an action-packed auction for signed photographs by Dr Rohan Clarke. It was a wonderful celebration of a book that makes an important contribution to the awareness of threatened birdlife.

Review and photos, Sally Holdsworth, Friends of Coolart Inc.


Upcoming Events

Family Bus Trip to Moonlit Sanctuary
Date & Time: Friday 14 July 2017, 10am – 2pm
Enjoy meeting a variety of native animals in a natural bushland setting. You can participate in extra activities if you choose at an additional cost. BYO lunch. Meet at Lynbrook Community Centre, cnr Lynbrook Blvd and Harris Street, Lynbrook. $10 – under fours, $15 – four to 17 year olds, $25 adults. Includes bus and entry. Bookings essential. Email: lynbrookcc@casey.vic.gov.au or telephone: 9792 7370

Bushfire Safe Garden Workshop
Date & Time: Sunday 23 July, 2017, 2pm – 4pm
Location: Gembrook Community Centre, 1 Beenak East Road, Gembrook
This workshop will include an example of a bushfire safe garden and signage. Representatives from CFA and Landcare will provide information on fuel loads, options for reducing fuel loads, examples of fire retardant and resistant plants and how to increase habitat for indigenous flora and fauna without increasing fuel loads on your property. Now is the time to review your garden design and implement changes for next summer.

Bushfire Safe Garden Workshop
Date & Time: Sunday 30 July, 2017. 3pm – 5pm
Location: Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre , 12-20 McBride Street, Cockatoo
Visit the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre to see an example of a bushfire safe garden and signage. Representatives from CFA and Landcare will provide information on fuel loads, options for reducing fuel loads, examples of fire retardant and resistant plants and how to increase habitat for indigenous flora and fauna without increasing fuel loads on your property. Now is the time to review your garden design and implement changes for next summer.

Planning a Vegetable Garden
Date & Time: Saturday 12 August, 2017. 10.30am – 12pm
Venue: Lynbrook Community Centre, Corner of Lynbrook Boulevard and Harris Street , Lynbrook
Want to know what to plant and when? How do I prepare my soil for the best results? Should I plant seeds or plants? All these questions and more answered! Bookings are essential. $10 per person. Email: lynbrookcc@casey.vic.gov.au, Ttlephone: 9792 7370

Winter Arts Festival: Communing with Nature at RBG Cranbourne
Date & Time: Saturday 19 August 2017, 9.30am – 12.30pm
Location: cnr Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive, Cranbourne
How does nature speak to you? Textile artist Tina Whitely will lead you on a discovery of design, colour, shape and texture in the Australian Garden. This workshop will discuss the individual artist’s observations process and how to reconcile the natural world with elements and principles of art and design. $45 Adult $35 Concession.

National Tree Day
Date & Time: Sunday 30 July, 10am – 12pm
Location: Seaford Wetlands, Old Wells Road (just north of Bennett Court)
Come and join Frankston City Council and other community members to restore woodland habitat adjacent to our very own RAMSAR listed Seaford Wetlands

Setting up a Vegetable Garden
Date & Time: Saturday 26 August 2017, 10am – 12pm
Location: Selandra Community Garden, Selandra Boulevard, Clyde North 3977
Learn how to design your own vegetable garden, improve your soil, plant for the season and other handy tips. Bookings are essential, please visit the Casey Green events webpage to book.
More information: 9705 5200

Myth Busting Solar and Batteries
Date & Time: Wednesday 23 August, 7-8.30pm
Location: Mechanics Hall, 1N Plowman Pace, Frankston
Feeling confused about going solar? This free session will provide independent information and advice from an energy analyst with the Alternative Technology Association, to help you make the right decision for your needs. Panels, inverters, batteries, feed in tariffs, how to choose a reputable solar supplier – there is so much to consider. You will leave armed with tools to help understand the many choices available and what to look for when evaluating quotes for solar and batteries.
Free but bookings are essential. Visit: Frankston Environmental Events website or leave a phone message on 9784 1628

Raising Green Kids
Date & Time: Thursday 7 September 2017, 6.30-8.30pm
Location: 20 Magid Drive, Fountain Gate
Discussion on how to reduce the environmental and hip-pocket impact of having children, and ways to encourage your children to be ‘greener’ too.
Bookings are essential, visit Casey Green Events webpage
Telephone: 9705 5200

The Mayor’s Family Picnic (Frankston)
Date & Time: Sunday 10 September 2017, 11am – 3pm
Location: Cruden Farm, Langwarrin (entry via Cranhaven Rd). This is an accessible event.
You are invited to come along and kick up your heels at the Mayor’s Family Picnic! It’s sure to be a great day with free family lawn games and activities, including face painting, and live entertainment to keep the kids happy. Don’t forget to bring along your picnic rug and picnic, or treat yourself at one of the food stalls competing in the local BBQ “Cook-Off”. It’s also a chance to find out what’s happening in the community with many community group and local trader stalls providing activities and information.

Declutter and Simplify Life
Date & Time: Tuesday 12 September 2017, 7-9pm
Location: Langwarrin Community Centre, 2 Lang Road, Langwarrin
Eco organiser Tanya Lewis will show you how to organise, declutter and reduce waste to live the life you want without being surrounded by stuff you don’t need. You will also discover where you can dispose of this clutter in ways that don’t cost the earth.
Free but bookings are essential. Visit: Frankston Environmental Events website or leave a phone message on 9784 1628

Declutter Your Life
Date & Time: Saturday 16 September 2017, 10am – 12pm
Location: 20 Magid Drive, Fountain Gate
Learn how to identify treasures, and explore environmental options for disposal of unwanted/unused items in your home. Free but bookings are essential, visit Casey Green Events webpage Telephone: 9705 5200