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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: Early family history | Involvement with the Catholic Church | History from the 1950s | Dairying | Frank’s education | The history of the Bridge and naming of Boyle Road | Changes in the local area from the 1970s | Frank and Andrea meet | Moving out of dairying | Farmers’ markets | Rice | Raising awareness of food production | The future and the food movement | Farm forestry | Work ethic | The House

Farm forestry

Frank: I did that, 15 years ago. It was when they were trying to encourage farmers to sort of plant more trees back on the property, so we sort of put our hand up and got some funding. It was actually done, I did it all of the fencing and, I did a fair bit. It was a fifty-fifty funding thing. It was Greening Australia, so it was NSW, might have been Federal Government.

That was just a demonstration plot, really, to encourage people to grow trees. But the managed forests, no we didn’t get involved in that. Well the way it turned out some of those farmers that sort of leased their land to those companies that went broke have got a forest on their land they didn’t have to pay for. Cause they still own the land. But then again they planted monocultures, like all the same species over hundreds of acres. And they are having problems with insect damage and they’re not the right species for where they are growing. I’m looking at getting some funding to do a corridor here to actually to hook that thing up, that Greening Australia thing. To hook it up to basically the bush, to finish the corridor off. I had a guy here last week, just looking at species, he’s an older guy who has had a bit of experience and he was just saying that they just planted species that were not suitable to where they were planting them, They didn’t look around at what’s growing, they just planted what was going to get the best growth.

It’s interesting cause you’ve done the certificate but it sounds like talking to you that the decisions you’ve made have turned out to be really good ones, but they’ve often been by just talking to other people, or opportunities?

Frank: Yeah. But then again, dad reckons the only thing I learnt at Tocal was how to drink beer and chase women [laughs]. But I did learn some things, and just looking at an enterprise and sort of doing the figures on it and just knowing where to look, where to sort of find your information and who, and how to disseminate it. You hear a lot of stuff and you’ve got to be able to disseminate what suits you and what doesn’t. A lot of it is probably correct but you’ve got to take it back to where we are and how we want to farm, to sort of say right, I’ll go down that track. I think, looking back at what I learnt at college, was that rather than just taking hearsay from what the neighbour said, to look a little, dig a little bit deeper.

The Department of Agriculture was probably always the first step. But then you go down the track and find other people to talk to. Sometimes I look back on it and [laughs], how we got to where we got to where we are and not actual planning but, a lot of it we’ve just stumbled across it.

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