Hardy teaches ag to kids

Hardy teaches ag to kids

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Regenerative agriculture has begun its path of being greenwashed and ecological farmers have concerns the practices will be deceptively perceived due to the terms overuse.

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Farming principle to change the future

Ecological farmers Jessica Hardy and Nathan Justin, Clarendon, want to ensure the term regenerative farming stays relevant, and they're doing their bit to ensure this by creating a new space to act as an education site.

The pair invested in property adjoining the family-owned K1 Wine's in Kuitpo, with plans to create a regenerative demonstration mixed enterprise farm.

"As we are custodians of the land, it is our goal for our generation and future generations to improve the land and share ways to improve the land with others," Jessica said.

"We would like to instil regenerative farming principles on our land to teach the next generation, which is a big thing for me.

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"To have a mixed enterprise farm and use it as a demonstration tool for regenerative practices would be a dream come true."

In the future, we would like to do a farm stay where we have people out for workshops, field days and tie it in with accommodation. - Jessica Hardy

Jessica would like to host community group meet ups and says the events are an example of the collaborative approach of ecological farming.

"If people share with others what they have experienced - how they have done their fencing or how they run their sheep - for both positive and negative outcomes, then others can learn from it," she said.

"Especially because we are all in the same area with similar climates, it is all relevant.

"We will achieve our goal with a lot of fencing and infrastructure, but we have to practice before we preach first.

"We have got to bring in as much knowledge as possible from others."

Jessica has a trial plot of five different types of berries - blackcurrant, loganberries, jostasberry, silvanberry and marionberry - which she plans to enhance her farming demonstrations.

"We are hoping to put a couple of little raised beds to have as demonstrations for urban dwellers to show how to set up veggie patches and show what you can pack into a certain space," she said.

"In the future, we would like to do a farm stay where we have people out for workshops, field days and tie it in with accommodation."

The pair have since registered the property as Badgers Farm and plan to spend the next 12 months improving the property and increasing their produce.

"To learn from others and work with like-minded people will definitely help us to achieve our goal," Jessica said.

"We want to soak up what we can and bring it all together to pass the knowledge on to others.

"Anyone who is interested will be able to access the farm stays and community sessions once they are off the ground."

Jessica wants to host a large cohort of groups, including urban community groups, schools and any smallholding farmers.

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"We are open to like-minded people who are keen to see our working example or want to share stories of their journey with us," she said.

"I was reading a stat that 55 per cent of kids have never seen where veggies grow and I thought that was crazy, which is why I thought our farm could be about demonstrating that.

"We need about 12 months to establish the orchard and to complete the infrastructure."

Jessica said they had already "come a fair way" in the 12 months since they bought the block of land.

"Every spare minute we are up here, but I think we are about 12 months off commercial visits," she said.

She said they would be documenting their progress on Instagram under the Badgers Farm name.

"We run the Ecological Farming Group Hills and Fleurieu Facebook group," she said.

"We will start online and go from there with seasonal catch ups - whether that is field days, workshops, barbecues and similar just to keep sharing stories.

"We will keep it to this area for now but if it is successful we will roll it out to other regions.

"Despite this, the group is open to anyone and is already live for those who are interested to jump on board."

KUITPO BLOCK GETS AG DIVERSIFICATION

JESSICA Hardy, Clarendon, bought the neighbouring property to her family's K1 Wines with partner Nathan Justin and has plans to educate and demonstrate ecological farming in a diverse way.

"At the moment, I have 10 mixed fruit trees and also organically, capsicum, zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, initially - until I get the berries off the ground - I want to do veggie boxes to give to family and friends," she said.

The couple also run 180 head of Merino ewes, which recently had an 86 per cent lambing rate.

"We are trying to breed our own line of Border Leicester-Merinos and the benefit here, with the vineyards on both sides of us, those blocks are fenced for sheep, so as soon as the grapes come off we can triple our sheep overnight," Nathan said.

Jessica plans to use cell grazing as a general regenerative principle to cycle nutrients.

Jessica's father Geoff Hardy said the sheep do "mainly good stuff" on the vineyard and have certainly saved a lot of money on sprays.

"Chasing sheep and directing them to the right spots is the most difficult task with running sheep on a vineyard," Geoff said.

"There are a lot of people with sheep in vineyards now and we are all learning little tricks, it's great. The sheep manure will help in the vineyard, we call the sheep RMUs, which is Remote Mowing Units, plus they fertilise as they go."

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