Is it still a weed at $70/kg

The latest trend in top Sydney restaurants is weeds. Farmers friends, purslane, salsify, wild asparagus and nettle are all on the menu and chefs are willing to pay top dollar.

One man is on a mission to connect farmers, landholders and budding foragers from the Central Tablelands to the catering and restaurant industry of Sydney.

After many years working as a foraging educator Diego Bonetto has established Wildfood Store, a marketplace for edible wild food. The platform and registered company will offer farmers and people in regional NSW the opportunity to subsidise their income by harvesting desirable edible wild plants.

“There is an unrelenting request form the city’s fine dining industry for well presented, clean, atypical edible species.” said Diego.

For example young, good quality tips of farmers friends can fetch $7-8 for a 100 g punnet.

“Farmers have edible weeds growing all over so it is just a matter to train people how to harvest and package and get the produce to the city.” he continued.

Diego has secured some seed funding from the NSW Government via an initiative in collaboration with the Kandos School Of Cultural Adaptation.

The concept is simple. Chefs in the city want clean, well-presented and fresh wild edibles. Diego will train farmers on how to harvest and package the produce and via a distribution company in the city deliver them to the top restaurants in Sydney. The farmers get paid for their efforts and Diego will bring their stories to the city’s tables.

Diego will be running a Foragers Training Workshop in Kandos on Saturday, 11 August from 10am-12:30 pm.

Diego Bonneto will provide training on how to harvest and package desirable wild plants and get the produce to the city.

Diego Bonetto is an Italian artist, father, forager, speaker, keen naturalist and award winning cultural worker based in Sydney. Diego works with chefs, scientists, architects, academics, herbalists, brewers, soap makers, producers, educators and land owners, providing programs, workshops, tours, community engagement strategies and exhibitions. You can read more about Diego on his website: http://www.diegobonetto.com.

Attendance to the workshop is $10, visit https://www.diegobonetto.com/shop/mid-western-foragers-training-aug11 to book your spot.

Can’t make the workshop? Diego will also be available to conduct consultation visits to local properties to identify wild food produce potential during the week of August 6 to 10. Contact Diego on 0411 293 178 or info@diegobonetto.com for more information.

Artful way to capture the right attention

As consumers become increasingly interested in where and how their food and fibre are produced, more and more farmers and producers are turning to direct marketing to sell their wares. But how do you tell your story in the right way to the right people?

Join us for a ‘Visual Storytelling – the art of capturing the right attention’ workshop on Sunday, 1 July and learn how you can use social media to convert your customers into a community.

Watershed Landcare have invited Sophie Hansen, founder and creator of Local is Lovely and My Open Kitchen and 2016 National Rural Woman of the Year, and Annie Herron, painter, sculptor and art teacher who has taught art to all ages for over 40 years and has been exhibiting for 30 years, to present the workshop.

Social media is a visual medium and so great photos are an important part of your storytelling. In this three-hour workshop we will run through how to compose, capture, caption and share images that tell your story in the most engaging way possible.

Creative Afternoon: 2016 National Rural Woman of the Year, Sophie Hansen, will present the Visual Storytelling workshop.

We will cover the basics of composing engaging images, how to shoot them on your smartphone (or camera if you prefer) and how to edit them so they really pop.

Then we’ll move on to the words – how to write and edit captions that tell a story, that engage and motivate your customers so they become community members and your biggest advocates.

This will be a lovely afternoon of creativity, strategy and figuring out how to tell your story in the right way to the right people.

The Visual Storytelling workshop will be held from 12 noon to 4pm on Sunday, 1 July at Augustine Function Centre, 50 George Campbell Drive, Mudgee. All welcome, the workshop is free to attend with lunch provided but please RSVP by Tuesday, 26 June as numbers are strictly limited.

For more information or to RSVP contact Watershed Landcare Coordinator, Claudia Wythes, on 0412 011 064 or email: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Central Tablelands LLS from NSW Catchment Action and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Paddock trees linking our landscape

The Central Tablelands region is one of the most highly cleared areas of woodland in NSW. Watershed Landcare have been running a project aiming to enhance areas of highly cleared ecosystems by improving linkages between remnant native vegetation.

The Paddock Trees project, supported by Central Tablelands Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government, provided financial assistance to landholders to increase the extent of paddock trees and clusters on the land they manage. Individual landholders were eligible to apply for up to $2,750 in funding for materials or labour to conduct on-ground works that improve vegetation extent and quality.

Six landholders from Lue, Rylstone, Gulgong, Stoney Creek and Mudgee participated in the project, conducting on-ground works to protect existing remnant vegetation and establish new corner, cluster and single paddock tree plantings.

Participating landholders worked with Watershed Landcare’s botanist to select suitable, endemic species to meet their desired project outcomes. At one project site, the planting was designed specifically to aid with the remediation of a heavily eroded, saline area.

As part of the project 8 ha were re-vegetated with over 1000 trees. When mature, these plantings will not only provide connectivity to existing remnant vegetation and act as wildlife corridors but will also provide other valuable ecosystem services such as habitat for pollinators as well as birds and bats beneficial for pest control and maintain and improve soil structure and fertility.

A Paddock Trees and Farm Vegetation Management workshop was also held in April as part of the project. Watershed Landcare invited Dhyan Blore, Principal Consultant at Native Biota Rural Ecology, to share her extensive knowledge in rural vegetation management and the establishment and care of native plants.

The workshop focused on providing landholders with knowledge and practical information to enable them to establish and mange their own native vegetation plantings, covering topics such as species selection for various sites and purposes, tree planting techniques, short term follow up and later management, including thinning and grazing.

Want to find out more about our projects and what we do? Visit our website, www.watershedlandcare.com.au, or contact one of our Coordinators, Claudia Wythes on 0412 011 064 or Agness Knapik on 0435 055 493 or email: info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare and Central Tablelands LLS through funding from the Australian Government and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

How do you pick a good seed?

 Did you know you can grow your own native plants without expensive, specialist equipment? But to ensure success it’s important to start with healthy, viable seed. So how do you pick a good seed from a dud?

To get the best quality seed, start with a healthy, natural population of parent plants. Collect seed locally if possible, environmental conditions should be considered, but collecting seed from a large and genetically diverse population is much more important. Avoid neighbouring plants as they are most probably related and instead collect seed from widely spaced healthy plants. Isolated plants should also be avoided as they may not be able to cross-pollinate so are likely to carry inbred, unhealthy seed.

Want to find out more? Come along to our seed collection and propagation workshop on Sunday 6 May and gain knowledge and skills to select for viable seed, ensure successful germination and give your seedlings the best start.

Seed Success: Start with healthy, viable seed.

The workshop will be run by local ecologist, David Allworth, and local botanist, Christine McRae, and will cover basic identification features of some commonly found local plant species; why collecting locally is best; safety, permission, timing, methods, storing collected material; equipment and processing of collected material; methods and materials for propagation and the best time to sow seed.

The hands-on workshop will take participants through the tools and techniques required to select viable seed and provide plenty of actual experience in seed sieving, preparing potting mix, sowing seed and handling seedlings. The emphasis of the workshop will be introducing people to a few tricks to ensuring a good germination, and doing so at low or no cost in terms of equipment; generally most the things required to germinate plants can be found in the domestic garbage bin or in the shed.

Participants will also gain an insight into local plant ecology and have access to seed and material propagated on the day.

The seed collection and propagation workshop will be held from 9am to 12 noon on Sunday 6 May at the Straw Bale Shed, AREC. The workshop is free to attend with morning tea and lunch provided.

All welcome but RSVP is essential for catering purposes. For more information or to book your spot please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Michael King and Landcare Australia.

Growing your own natives

Ever wanted to grow your own native plants? Do you know how to tell a healthy, viable seed from an unhealthy one, when is the best time to sow, and how to give your newly emerged seedlings the best conditions to ensure success?

Watershed Landcare will be hosting a seed collection and propagation workshop on Sunday 6 May and have invited local ecologist, David Allworth, and local botanist, Christine McRae, to share their extensive knowledge on the subject.

“Collecting your own seed and growing the plants yourself for either re-vegetation projects, farm windbreaks and shade trees, or the home garden can be extremely satisfying. The ultimate DIY project that will outlast a lifetime.” said Ms McRae.

“The purchase of seed to grow native plants is relatively low cost. However, collecting your own seed from close proximity to where it will be used can add to the survival rate of the plants.” she continued.

The reason for this is that local plants are more suited to the local environment. They would have evolved over time to cope with environmental variables such as rainfall patterns, frosts, winter and summer extremes, soil types and landscape position. Provenance is a term meant to describe the origin of a seed source. Local provenance equates to genetic adaptation to local environmental conditions.

“Another good reason to collect your own seeds is that there are many native plant species out there and commercial suppliers will not be able to supply everything when required, if at all. Growing your own local native species is the best way to aid their survival.” said Ms McRae.

The workshop will cover basic identification features of some commonly found local plant species; why collecting locally is best; safety, permission, timing, methods, storing collected material; equipment and processing of collected material; methods and materials for propagation and the best time to sow seed.

Workshop participants with gain knowledge and skills to select for viable seed, ensure successful germination and give seedlings the best start.

The seed collection and propagation workshop will be held from 9am to 12 noon on Sunday 6 May at the Straw Bale Shed, AREC. The workshop is free to attend with morning tea and lunch provided.

All welcome. For more information or to book your spot please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Michael King and Landcare Australia.

Helping to tackle Serrated Tussock

As part of the Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project, which is working on a new approach to serrated tussock, Watershed Landcare is inviting local landholders to a workshop to help them get the upper hand on this weed of national significance.

Serrated tussock

Watershed Landcare has partnered with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (CT LLS) and Mid-Western Regional Council (MWRC) to deliver the Nasty Nasella Workshop on Monday, 5 March.

The workshop will feature presentations from Clare Edwards, CTLLS Senior Land Services Officer (Pastures), who will discuss proactive whole-farm strategies to manage serrated tussock; Aaron Simmons, NSW Department of Primary Industries, will speak about the practicalities of serrated tussock management strategies from his perspective as a landholder and researcher; Matt Anderton, MWRC, will discuss landholder responsibilities and the new biosecurity legislation.

The Nasty Nasella workshop will be held from 9am-12:30pm, 5 March at The Stables, Market Street, Mudgee. This event is free to attend with lunch provided, but please RSVP to assist with catering by Friday, 2 March.

The Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project is also looking for farmers interested in developing a serrated tussock management plan for their farm.

“The project is capturing and building on the knowledge of experienced landholders as well as supporting those who have had limited experience with serrated tussock,” said Watershed Landcare Coordinator, Claudia Wythes.

“Rather than focusing only on chemical control, this project will deliver a broad range of practical management options that cater to landholders with different experience levels in dealing with the problem.”

Pasture species, alternative control strategies and the scale of the problem all need to be considered,” she continued.

Whether you are actively managing serrated tussock on your property, you have just spotted a few isolated plants, or you would like some help with identification, we want to hear from you,” said Ms Wythes.

To RSVP to the workshop or for more information about the Nasty Nassella project, contact Watershed Landcare Coordinator Claudia Wythes on 0412 011 064 or email: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Central Tablelands LLS from NSW Catchment Action and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Improve your land

Do you want to increase productivity, reduce operating costs and improve the land value of your farm?

Landholders can achieve all this by encouraging native vegetation on their farms:

  • Farms with shade trees and shelter belts are more aesthetically appealing and attract a premium over average land values. A survey conducted in the Central West indicated that farms with good quality native vegetation have a 15% increase on capital value compared to those without.
  • Crop and pasture productivity is increased by remnant native vegetation and established shelter belts. Native trees and shrubs provide habitat for birds, lizards and bats, the natural enemies of pasture pests.
  • Pastures and crops with some tree cover experience less soil moisture loss than those exposed to the full force of the wind.
  • Cold and heat stress in livestock can significantly reduce farm income by reducing stock fertility, weight gain, wool growth, milk production, and increasing the mortality rate of calves and lambs and the susceptibility of stock to disease.

Paddock Trees Project: Providing funding to landholders to enhance and protect farm vegetation. Individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

Scattered paddock trees also serve an important function for native wildlife, providing a food source and nesting sites. They also act as stepping stones for animal movement between other patches of vegetation and water sources.

Many existing mature trees on agricultural land in temperate Australia are in decline. This is not isolated to paddock trees, mature trees in larger stands of vegetation are also disappearing, but often the effects are more pronounced in isolated trees.

There are a number of things landholders can do to help protect paddock trees and help their regeneration. Fencing around selected trees will help to protect them from stock and limit detrimental agricultural practices such as applying fertilizer in the root zone and reducing herbicide spray drift. Planting additional shade trees for stock can also take the pressure off the old giants.

Watershed Landcare is currently running a Paddock Trees project which aims to enhance areas of highly cleared ecosystems in the Central Tablelands Local Land Services region by increasing the extent of paddock trees and clusters.

We are seeking expressions of interest for funding from landholders in our region to conduct on-ground works to improve linkages between remnant native vegetation on the land they mange. Funding is available for materials or labour for protection of existing remnant vegetation and/or new plantings.

The project is supported by Watershed Landcare and Central Tablelands LLS through funding from the Australian Government. Total funding of $16,500 is available, with individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

For further details visit our website.

Applications close 23 February 2018. Please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au for further information or to discuss your project idea.

Planning in paddock planting

Have you got a succession plan for your paddock trees?

Paddock trees have many production benefits but many of these majestic giants are reaching the end of their life span, with some estimates predicting that in 40 years all the paddock trees could be gone.

Standing Tall: Paddock trees have many production benefits including providing shade and shelter to livestock.

Paddock trees supply production benefits by providing shelter for stock and crops, habitat for pollinators as well as birds and bats beneficial for pest control, improve soil structure and fertility as well as aiding in the management of salinity. Farms with shade trees and shelter belts also attract a premium over average land values.

There are a couple of funding rounds currently open providing a great opportunity for local landholders to help protect existing paddock trees and help their regeneration on their patch.

Watershed Landcare have launched our Paddock Trees project which aims to enhance areas of highly cleared ecosystems in the Central Tablelands Local Land Services region by increasing the extent of paddock trees and clusters.

We are seeking expressions of interest for funding from landholders in our region to conduct on-ground works to to improve linkages between remnant native vegetation on the land they mange. Funding is available for materials or labour for protection of existing remnant vegetation and/or new plantings.

The project is supported by Watershed Landcare and Central Tablelands LLS through funding from the Australian Government. Total funding of $16,500 is available, with individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

For further details visit our website.

Applications close 23 February 2018. Please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au for further information or to discuss your project idea.

Applications are also open for Mid-Western Regional Council’s Roadside Reserve Extension Grants which aim to plant 4,000 tubestock trees along areas of high conservation value roadsides or roadsides with habitat characteristics for threatened species.

Eligible property owners in the Mid-Western Region who wish to create wind breaks along their boundary fences can apply for free native tree plantings.

Applications close 16 February 2018. Application forms can be downloaded from Council’s website.

Helping frog research

There are over 240 frog species recorded in Australia, many of which are unique to this continent.

But Australian frog numbers are declining and many are endangered.

The Australian Museum has launched the FrogID count, a national citizen science project that aims to count Australia’s frogs and learn more about what is happening to them.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved, discover which frogs live around them and contribute to research which will help scientists learn more about our frogs.

There are two ways you can get involved and find out which frogs live around you.

Grab your smartphone, download the FrogID app, register as a counter, head out in the field and record frog calls.

Once you’ve found some frogs and recorded various croaks, whistles, bleats and barks, match the calls to different frog species.

And if you can’t get out and about you can still contribute from right behind your desk by becoming an Audio DNA expert and validating frog recordings from the field.

By matching frog calls to weather and habitat, the data collected will help herpetologists to build a picture of how different frog species are responding to a changing environment.

The data will also be used to track the Cane Toad and to identify where frogs are thriving and where they are not.

What’s that sound?

Croaks, whistles, bleats and barks – every frog species makes a different sound!

By recording a frog call with our new app, FrogID, you can discover which frogs live around you and help us count Australia’s frogs!

To find out more about Australia’s frogs, or to get involved in the Citizen Science project visit the website: www.frogid.net.au.

Find out what frogs are found in NSW

There are 24 frogs listed as occurring in the region of Central.

Please bear in mind that frogs listed may not be found across the whole region and, in some cases, may only have been recorded on the very edge of the region.

Keep an eye out for swarms

The bees have been busy this spring, with a large number of swarms appearing across our district they have also been keeping members of the Mudgee Bee Group busy.

“Mudgee has been the hot spot this spring; the Mudgee Bee Group has collected at least 8 swarms around town, as well as a couple at Gulgong.” said Mudgee Bee Group swarm co-ordinator, Sandi Munro.

“The public have alerted us to several swarms, via our Facebook page and through the Amateur Beekeepers Association swarm collectors list.” she continued.

The Mudgee Bee Group removing a large swarm from a grapefruit tree in Gulgong.

Swarming is the way bees increase their population. Swarms can be spectacular when you see them flying over and settling to rest somewhere. Usually bees are at their calmest when swarming, but not always!

“Swarms are exciting to see, and usually easy to remove, from a branch or letter box, but if they move into your chimney or eaves of the house, they are a lot more difficult to remove, so let us know as soon as you spot them, the sooner the better!” said Ms Munro.

Mudgee Bee Group have a swarm co-ordinator that can assist with information or removal of a swarm, contact Sandi Munro on 0487 898 404.

Spring is when the bees do their most important work; pollinating trees, crops and flowers and, of course, making honey!

To help the bees this spring there are a few things you can do.

Bees use up to 5 litres of water a day per hive during hot weather to quench their thirst, and to keep the hive at a constant temperature for the brood to be healthy. In dry times you can help by putting water out for them. Bees can’t swim, so add some sticks, pebbles or corks to the bird bath to help them get out if they fall in.

Don’t use chemical sprays, especially on blooms. Spraying blooming flowers, trees, shrubs and lawns can kill bees! Even some deemed safe for humans are detrimental to bees. Even ‘safe’ sprays leave a residue that is picked up by bees in both nectar and pollen and can then end up in your honey.

Plant a bee garden – bees need food and most flowering plants give some benefit to bees by way of pollen and nectar. Borage, lavender and rosemary are easy to grow and very popular with bees. Annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs can all be planted to benefit bees.

If you would like to learn more about bees, come along to a Mudgee Bee Group meeting or find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Mudgeebeegroup). For more information contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudiawythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

The Mudgee Bee Group is supported by Watershed Landcare and the Amateur Beekeepers Association and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.