Rick Humphries with one of the hops flowers from his 2018 harvest.
Rick Humphries with one of the hops flowers from his 2018 harvest. Liana Walker

Producers unite in new network to make sustainability stand

DROUGHT is ringing alarm bells for many who make a living off the land and alongside movements like the plastic bag ban, have contributed to momentum that is seeing landholders take action on sustainability into their own hands.

They are now being bolstered by news the Southern Downs Regional Council is putting together a holistic sustainability strategy for the first time.

Michelle Coelli ,from Twisted Gum Wines, is a member of the newly formed Granite Belt Climate and Sustainability Action Network, a group of about 40 Granite Belt residents who want to work towards greater sustainability.

For Mrs Coelli, the practices make sense from an environmental and business perspective as they can protect natural resources while also improving productivity.

Despite the drought, Mrs Coelli harvested two-thirds of the regular yield of grapes from her unirrigated vineyard.

Alongside husband Tim they have increased their soil carbon, boosted biodiversity and implemented solar energy since 2007.

"With interest rates the way they are and the returns on solar, whether you're offsetting your current bills or earning money from sending energy back to the grid it is a no-brainer to do solar," she said.

"We have to find a way that we can be sustainable and improve our bottom line and doing things for good economic reasons, that also has the environmental outcomes we want.

"To me that's sustainability. That means we will be farming into the future."

 

Tim and Michelle Coelli from Twisted Gum with their trusty dog Gus.
Tim and Michelle Coelli from Twisted Gum with their trusty dog Gus. Liana Walker

Mrs Coelli said it was also vital to protect the natural environment to support tourism.

It's been welcomed news to hear the council will be forming an official sustainability strategy, coming just two months after the action network was formed.

The $150,000 Environmental Sustainability Strategy will be partly funded by the council and a $75,000 grant from the Federal Government's Building Better Region's Fund.

Councillor for Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability, Cameron Gow said the strategy would look at areas such as waste management, recycling, pest management and energy efficiency.

The council will soon start community consultations and the strategy will be developed throughout 2019-2020.

Mrs Coelli said she hoped the strategy included time out and about giving practical examples, bringing guest speakers to help with education, consideration for catchment areas and highlighting the unique assets of the Granite Belt.

Owner of Possum Lane Enterprises at Stanthorpe, Rick Humphries, has been integral in the formation of the Action Network, saying the whole region was exposed to the natural environment and risks such as a lack of water and extreme climate.

If you have sustainability ideas or would like to inquire about the network, email richardhumphries@bigpond.com



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