A pair of first-generation farmers have been rewarded for their contributions to regenerative agriculture, receiving a Tweed Shire Council Tweed Sustainability Award for their achievements.
Jodie Viccars and Fabian Fabbro established Woodland Valley Farm at Fernvale and have been producing free-range eggs since 2019.
They are strong believers and practitioners of regenerative agricultural practices and have worked hard to transform their farm’s tired and degraded pastures after decades of set stocking.
Ms Viccars and Mr Fabbro received one of Tweed Shire Council’s Sustainable Agriculture Small Grants in 2019, which provided some of the funding needed to get their project off the ground.
“We were really grateful for the award which recognised the hard work we had been putting in and reinforced the importance of the regeneration, not just for us but for the community as a whole,” Mr Fabbro said.
“The Sustainable Agriculture grant was instrumental in giving us the kick-start we needed to get this project underway and will be the reason we achieve significant regeneration of the soils and pastures, creating a productive farm through sustainable agricultural practices.”
Their project involved the installation of both permanent and electric fencing in strategic locations, to facilitate the rotation of cattle and chickens across the farm, while also excluding livestock from their waterway.
“The system ensures pastures are well rested and provides time for plants and soil organisms to grow, leading to improved soil structure and water retention and reduced soil and nutrient run-off,” Mr Fabbro said.
Through an additional River Health Grant from Council and a collaboration with OzFish, Mr Fabbro and Ms Viccars also started revegetating their creek lines with native species.
The rotational grazing system resulted in almost immediate benefits including an increase in feed availability, healthier looking pastures and a reduction in weeds.
The integration of chickens into the system also provided a much-needed addition of nutrients and organic matter that has stimulated pasture growth.
The chickens disperse cow pats and accelerate their breakdown and incorporation into the soil, while also controlling livestock pests that develop in the dung.