11 June 2019
On Tuesday 7 May, regenerative agriculture farmer and author Charles Massy spoke to regional farmers and landholders in Wandin North as part of a five-event tour through the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Ranges and Gippsland.
Over 60 farmers from the Yarra Valley and surrounds attended and were engaged in Mr Massy’s presentation on some of the new thinking in regenerative agriculture.
“It’s the new form of ecological farming, grazing, cropping and replacing industrial nutrients which is really taking off around the world,” Mr Massy said.
“I’m not here to say ‘you’ve got to do this or do that’, but this is what’s happening around the world, there’s some exciting potential to replace industrial imports to get healthy soil and more biodiversity.
“From healthier soils, we’re getting a lot more nutrient diversity in our food, which leads to better human health,” Mr Massy said.
Mr Massy said that these methods of farming can help tackle climate change.
“Regenerative agriculture can pull out of the atmosphere more carbon than almost any other method and address big issues like the destabilisation of our Earth’s system.
“What we’re up against is some of the great powers in world economy and politics, who drive the big industrial food and agriculture systems,” he said.
“So this is a bit of an insurgent approach that disempowers the big chemical companies.
“It’s just a healthy alternative to some of our biggest problems… There’s definitely a shift to a more sustainable and regenerative way,” Mr Massy said.
It took a drought and some deep reflection to turn Mr Massy from a conventional farmer to one of the leading thinkers in regenerative agriculture today.
His concern about land degradation and the human influence on climate and the environment led him to complete a PhD in Human Ecology at Australian National University in 2012.
This resulted in his book, Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth that explores the emergence of a regenerative agriculture in Australia.
Mr Massy said that he wrote his book after learning from his own farming mistakes that led to debt.
“I’m no expert, but I can certainly tell you about some of the mistakes that a lot of us have made and I think that farmers identify with that.”
Mr Massy still manages a grazing property in New South Wales while teaching at universities and consulting widely in the fields of Merino breeding, landscape design and transformative change in agriculture.
The workshops were a partnership between the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA, Western Port Catchment Landcare Network, Bass Coast Landcare Network, South Gippsland Landcare Network, Yarra Ranges Landcare Network, Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network, Yarra Ranges Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire and the Baw Baw Food Movement and were supported by the National Landcare Program.
Two of the Charles Massy workshops were recorded and are now available as podcasts and vodcasts.