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A serial tree-planter manages to synchronise his outfit with the colouring of Eucalyptus occidentalis.

A couple of days before this year’s tree planting, I rang our friend and regular tree-planter Jeremy, and told him that three out of four family members were sick with the flu and we were thinking of cancelling this year’s planting weekend. He didn’t accept that proposal, effectively telling us that tree planting would happen regardless of our involvement, that between his family and another they would take care of catering, rally the volunteers and get the trees in the ground.

It has always been an aspiration of ours that the farm might offer a place for people to be able to develop connection with the landscape through collaboration on land-based projects – “where people and the landscape can restore each other”. I hope that Jeremy’s response, and the support of our friends and community over the last seven years of tree-planting is an indication of this aspiration in development. In this spirit, this year we were also delighted to host regenerative side projects such as Steven Hoepfner’s seed ball regeneration experiment, and provide a waterway for Sue and David Speck’s sedges, and a forever home for Greg Wood’s trees.

Steven’s seed ball project: local provenance bundles of seed and nutrients distributed across revegetation zones to germinate when the conditions are right.

As it turns out, I was feeling okay to hang around, and by the second day, the healing power of sleet and gale force winds had worked wonders for my lethargy and morning aches. Over two days this year’s amazing crew replanted the gully that was burnt out last summer, extended our successful Flat-topped yate (Eucalyptus occidentalis) and Sugar gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) woodlots and shelterbelts, and began the establishment of an experimental silvopasture block, combining belts of timber, firewood and fodder trees with pasture and space for future saltbush plantings.

The first day’s crew recline roo-style amongst three and four-year-old Eucalyptus occidentalis.

Now in our seventh year of planting, at long last, the work of the previous years is becoming evident. Everywhere, everything is growing. After five years of tree planting that has sometimes felt like a fool’s errand, the woodland is now emerging, and the form of a property plan that has existed mostly in Texta and paper is beginning to be written on the landscape. From seed the size of dust, young trees are climbing above even our disproportionately tall group of tree planters.

New tree guards mark some of 2019’s plantings, from front to back: gully stabilisation and revegetation, woodlot expansion and, at very back, silvopasture planted on contour.

We thank this year’s crew for their support, particularly Jeremy, Claire, Innis, Shani, Pete, Freyja, Arlo and Anthony for assuming command when sickness threatened, including providing food for the workers. We thank Steven and Carla, Sue, David and Greg for their gifts of plants. We thank Pru, Ly, Sara, Richard, Marg, Jacqui, Paul, Estelle, Joel, Nicole, Floyd, Lennox, Denzelle, Nat, Jess, Oliver and Andrew for their enthusiasm, generosity, good company and hard work! Thank you.