Issue 37 - 10 December 2021
Message from RALF

Merry Christmas everyone!

In this edition: learn how to make a
worm lasagne to ignite biological activity in the soil, sign up for a micro farming or permaculture course, apply for a healthy soils and productive pasture grant, comment on the NSW agricultural land map, or discover how to prepare for emergencies this summer.

Also, be inspired with some last minute
Christmas gift ideas.

If you know someone who might be interested in joining the Greater Sydney Small Farms network, they can register HERE. To view previous newsletters, click HERE. To provide ideas on how the Greater Sydney Small Farms network can help you, please email or phone me on 0436 803 337

Richard Stephens
Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) 
Merry Christmas photo provided by 
Daniela Heubusch 
Livestock health this summer

The continuing wet weather means livestock owners should be on the lookout for various health concerns, including:
Soil health and soil carbon

The most popular topic throughout 2021 for the Small Farms Network has been soil health and soil carbon.

For World Soil Day on 5 December 2021, the National Soil Advocate addressed the importance of soil health to our economy, our environment and to our society, and the Soil CRC explaines why soil health matters.

Also in 2021, methods for calculating soil carbon were further developed and new activities allowed. Farming is now considered part of the solution to sequestering carbon and can help us meet our net zero commitments  

Training in carbon farming is also available, click HERE.   
Virus warning for rabbit owners
Rabbit owners in Greater Sydney need to be vigilant following hundreds of rabbit deaths. Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV2), a fast-spreading disease that causes bleeding in the animal’s internal organs is different to RHDV1, which is released by authorities to control the feral rabbit population. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for domestic rabbits against RHDV2. For more information, click 
Cumberland Plain restoration
Greater Sydney's Cumberland Plain contains unique vegetation and ecological communities that may become functionally extinct if clearing and development continues unabated. The Cumberland Plain Restoration Program aims to address this issue through ecological/cultural fire planning and implementation, vegetation management and structural habitat restoration. For more information, click HERE.
Take care over this wet Summer 
Thanks to the La Niña, wetter than average conditions are expected to continue for the east coast this summer, according to the Bureau of Meteorology's official summer outlook. While it might not end up being the wettest summer on record for Australia as a whole, with many catchments around the country already primed, it won't take much to trigger flooding this summer. Click ​HERE.​
Worm lasagne
Layering a rich mix of cow and horse manure, mushroom compost, rock mineral, worms and straw has been shown to reignite biological activity in soil. CGL Beef in Queensland was setup in 2017 to produce clean, green local meat. Soil tests show in four years, soil carbon increased by 0.45 per cent which means an extra 70,000 litres of water per hectare is held in the soil. Click 
Help protect our 1,700 native bee species
Would you recognise a native bee if you saw one? To date, 1,700 native bee species have been identified, but the true number may be closer to 2,000. Rather than living in hives, most native bees are ground dwelling, some dig shallow burrows while others dig down to more than a metre deep. Our native flora is dependent on protecting our native bee species. Click HERE. 
France bans plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables
France will ban plastic packaging for nearly all fruit and vegetables from January 2022 in a bid to reduce plastic waste. Implementing a February 2020 law, the government published a list of about 30 fruits and vegetables that will have to be sold without plastic packaging from 1 January. The list includes leeks, aubergines and round tomatoes as well as apples, bananas and oranges. Click 
Protecting Indigenous bushfood knowledge
While there are over 6,500 native plants in Australia, less than 15 have been developed as part of the native bushfoods industry for domestic and international markets. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples unique knowledge of traditional uses of native plants and animals has led to the establishment of national and global industries in bushfoods, medicines, and cosmetics. For more information, click 
Urban micro-farming workshop
Urbavore is an 'Urban Micro Farm' in Springwood in the Blue Mountains. It has a bio-intensive market garden, mushroom production, chickens and quails, bees, fruit trees, edible hedges, seed saving, and heaps of compost. Workshops combine fun hands on sessions with detailed course notes on seedling propagation, bed prep, crop spacing and organic pest control methods to maximise production in a small space. Workshops are scheduled for 12 December, 13 February and 20 March. Click 

Permaculture design course
The first Pocket City Farms permaculture design course is being run from 7 May to 25 June, 2022. It features a mix of weekend, evening and self-paced at home activities. This 9-week program gives you time to absorb and reflect upon permaculture ethics and principles, as well as complete a permaculture design for a site of your choice. Places are selling fast so if you are interested, click HERE.
Greater Sydney Landcare Gathering
Calling all small farmers, landcarers, bushcarers and environmentalists. Greater Sydney Landcare and Greater Sydney Local Land Services invite you to connect, imagine and create our future together! It’s been a difficult couple of years with drought, bushfires, floods and a global pandemic Together, we can find new connections and develop positive ideas and initiatives. Be a part of the Greater Sydney "care" community on 20 February 2022. Register your interest HERE. 

Hawkesbury Ag field day
Cultivate your future in agriculture and discover the breadth and level of agriculture innovation within the Hawkesbury. The field day and local tours will showcase agribusiness education pathways, careers and opportunities in the Hawkesbury, link industry to students and the local farming community and highlight the contribution of small farms networks and niche agribusinesses make to our community. To be held in Richmond on 22 March 2022. For more info, email Julie McAlpin at [email protected]


Drought resilient soils and landscapes program
Applications have opened for grants to support drought resilient land management practices. The Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes program will fund projects that demonstrate, at scale, land management practices (or combinations of practices) to help farm land stay more productive during drought and recover quicker. Open until 11 January 2022, an applicant information webinar will be held 10:30 – 11:30am on 14 December 2021, register here. For more information, click HERE.
Rural landholder grant 
To support NSW communities affected by the February and March 2021 storms and floods, recovery funds are now available to rural landholders who do not qualify for other funding. Landholders in declared LGAs with at least 10ha and who receive at least $20,000 in income from primary production per annum are eligible for up to $10,000. Applications close on 28 January 2022. All activities and expenditure funded must be complete and invoices submitted by 1 June 2022. Click HERE.
Healthy soils and productive pasture grants
Grants of up to $10,000 are available to assist landholders improve soil health, pasture condition, native vegetation and/or biodiversity on-farm while reducing soil erosion. Fundable activities include: fencing waterways; providing alternate water systems; internal paddock divisions enabling rotational grazing and pasture management; planting natives for shade and shelter belts. Interested? Please call Linda Hanlon on 0400 454 680 or email [email protected] or click HERE. 
Discounted green loans for farmers
The Commonwealth Bank is offering new green loans as an incentive for farmers to invest in environmental upgrades on the farm. While the the discounted interest rate is commercial-in-confidence, eligible projects include shelter belts, carbon sequestration and water and energy efficiency upgrades. For example, a Victorian truss tomato producer has been offered a discounted interest rate to finance upgrades to reduce the farm's greenhouse gas emissions. Click HERE.


Significant agricultural land map 
The NSW Department of Primary Industries is seeking feedback on the preliminary Draft State Significant Agricultural Land Map. The map is intended to provide information to planning authorities, landholders and developers about the location of the best agricultural land in the state. The draft is on public exhibition until 31 January 2022. You can view the map, 
provide feedback by using the map features, complete the survey and/or provide a submission. Click HERE.
Inquiry into NSW food production and supply
A NSW inquiry into food production and supply aims to improve food security, equitable access to food and reduced food waste. It will examine food transport technologies, preservation of productive land, food production impacts on the environment, Indigenous food and land management practices, and more. Submissions close 31 Jan 2022. For more information, click HERE.
Toad at the hive blitz
The 'Toad at the Hive' is a NSW community hunt for cane toads in the month of February 2022. Cane toads love eating bees, so beekeepers especially can assist by looking out for them around backyard hives, particularly in the evenings. However, you don’t need to have bees to participate. To be involved, register your interest, or for more information, click HERE,
Farming for the future 
As Australia embarks on delivering net zero emissions by 2050, PwC Australia is researching the link between enhancing natural capital and farm profitability. Farming for the Future will test and quantify across different agricultural sectors and regions the current anecdotal evidence suggesting producers have increased profits by investing in their natural capital. The aim is to develop practical and accessible information and an easy-to-use benchmarking tool for producers. Click 
Future drought fund
Drought is an enduring feature of the Australian landscape with significant economic, social and environmental impacts. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund supports initiatives to help Australia’s farmers prepare for the impacts of future drought. The Fund has released its first annual report and your feedback is sought to ensure these initiatives are well directed and effective. Share your thoughts before 15 December 2021. Click HERE.


Be prepared for an emergency
With a wet, stormy summer upon us, being prepared for emergencies is wise. The ABC Emergency website provides useful tips and enables you to find up to date information on incidents near you. Learn  how to make an emergency plan and prepare for storms, floods  cyclones, bushfires, and heatwaves. Also, stay connected and prepare together with your community using the ABC and Australian Red Cross #ReadyTogether Toolkit. Click HERE.      
Make a plan for your animals today!
Emergencies can occur suddenly and planning now for your pets, livestock and animals will help keep everyone safe. The many resources on this State Emergency Services website have been prepared in collaboration with a large range of organisations to help you, your group, association, breed club, business and local community to be prepared for emergencies. So, get ready now and be prepared. Click HERE.   
Vegetation mapping for Sydney and NSW
The latest Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s vegetation maps show the distribution of plant community types across NSW. These maps have been progressively produced and the native vegetation map for Greater Sydney Metro region is now available. This digital map have been derived from the analysis of 2200 floristic sites. Click HERE to access these maps.
In need of mental health support?
If you or someone you care about is in need of mental health support, the Penrith Head to Health Centre is now open, providing  walk-in support without a prior appointment to individuals experiencing distress or crisis. Located at 111 Henry St, Penrith, mental health support is available 7 days a week, 365 days a year (including public holidays). Operating hours are 1:00pm - 9:30pm every day, except Tuesdays which is 1:00pm - 5:00pm. Click H​​ERE.
Path to a pest and weed-free future 
Australia is in the grip of an unprecedented attack on its native wildlife and environment. A new CSIRO report, Fighting plagues and predators: Australia’s path to a pest and weed-free future, reveals the environment is facing a “sliding doors” moment. For example, in Australia: there are up to 6 million feral cats and 23 feral pigs; cane toads have invaded more than 1 million square kilometres; from 1960 to 2017, invasive species cost at least $390 billion. Read the report HERE.
Land stewardship incentives
While carbon credit and biodiversity offset schemes are now available, many producers are finding them confusing, hard to navigate and time consuming to understand the detail. Eight different producers provide their farming and landscape visions. Then advice from a team of specialists in carbon aggregating, natural capital accounting and policy experts is provided on available schemes, programs and services that could help these producers realise their visions. Click HERE.
Compost ain't compost
While much of Australia's agricultural soils are degraded, compost offers a solution as it is teeming with micro-organisms and organic matter that can help regenerate soils. But not all composts are the same and there is still a lot to learn about this precious, carbon rich resource. By working together, governments, farmers and industry can return organic matter to the soil and close the loop from paddock to paddock. Listen to the podcast HERE.
Understanding soil tests
In this online webinar,  David Hardwick from Soil Land Food speaks about how to make sense of soil tests.
David is an agroecologist with over 20 years of experience in rural landscapes, farming and food systems. David has a passion for empowering farmers with knowledge and skills that will improve their soils, landscapes, farming and life. Watch
Tips for managing fall armyworm 
DPI NSW has released its top tips for managing fall armyworm. They are: know if the pest is in your area; follow up with regular in-crop monitoring; optimise control costs; approach control with an IPM focus; know which chemicals are likely to be most effective; know which chemicals are not  effective; be mindful of the effect your insecticide sprays could have on other pests; and, seek further information. Click HERE.
 Fresh Local Produce 
Harvest Trails and Markets is a not-for-profit community incorporated organisation formed by farmers in the Hawkesbury. Search the website for local produce gift ideas, fresh produce markets, farm gate trails and pick your own options.
Click HERE.
Pocket City Farm Holiday Hamper
Includes farm grown, mulberry & apply jam, local honey, limited edition Pocket City Farm tea towel. Only available from Pocket City Farm at Camperdown for $50. Be quick! Click HERE.
Various prices, electronic and/or hardcopy. Click on the image.
This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program. 
The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that the information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information with the appropriate officer of Local Land Services or the user’s independent adviser. For updates go to www.lls.nsw.gov.au 
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