Mudgee Microscope Group on a mission to educate locals on landscape

For this week’s catchment corner, we’re shining the spotlight on one of our special interest community groups. The Mudgee Microscope Group!
Born out of a soil health workshop in 2014, the group formed with the aim to look a little closer at our precious landscape and to learn about new ideas, practices and places that are important for living an environmentally conscious life.

Don’t let the ‘microscope’ deter you! This is far from a hardcore science program, our goal is to learn practical skills to improve our land, gardens and lifestyles, to be more sustainable and resilient.

A social group at heart, it is a joy to meet once a month to chat and catch up, taking walks in nature, enjoying morning tea or evening drinks together and sharing in the learning journey. It’s a wonderful platform for our members to share their own knowledge and skills so we all end up going home after every meeting with a head full of new, bright ideas & perspectives.

At our latest meeting, we visited the Wollar cemetery which is home to a collection of native grasses, shrubs and herbs that are nowadays hard to find in the surrounding rural landscape. Cemeteries in the area, with soils that have been left undisturbed by cultivation since settlement, now act as important reserves for native biodiversity that is disappearing. The workshop was led by local botanist Christine McRae, we took a walk and found some of these rare native gems and learned some identification skills before enjoying the Autumn sunshine with a picnic and a cuppa!

The focus topics are chosen by our members based on what’s interesting and important to them. From its origins in soil health, the Microscope Group has evolved to cover a huge range of fascinating topics in the form of workshops and field trips. From Frog identification, earth building and seed collection to farm visits, permaculture and book clubs. We occasionally host expert guest speakers and have additional opportunities to attend different types of events outside the group.

There’s something for everyone and we think more local people would get a lot out of these monthly gatherings. We’d love to see you at our next meeting. It’s a great way to meet new people and get the creative juices flowing. Just get in touch with your local coordinator and we’ll keep you in the loop!


Ag program for rural women

In rural communities, many women have limited training opportunities. But Mudgee’s Women in Ag group aims to ameliorate that by allowing participating Watershed Landcare members to explore topics of interest and build capacity through mentoring, peer support, sharing of knowledge and skills and expert speakers.

In recognition of the shortage of professional development available to women working in agriculture or ag related industries, Watershed Landcare received funding from the Central West LLS to run a personal development program for rural women in 2015.

The program delivered targeted training, mentoring and built support networks to strengthen resilience, provide leadership opportunities and access to training and support services that enhanced confidence and skills through delivery of training workshops, webinars, and a regional forum.

“The feedback from the program was overwhelmingly positive. The women involved learned a lot and had so much fun we decided to keep it going.” said Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator.

“The aim of the Women in Agriculture group is to champion rural women by providing support, mentoring and professional development through vibrant and interactive conversation, and exposure to new ideas, approaches and innovation.” she continued.

The group is now in it’s third year and in that time has covered diverse topics such as social media, leadership and team dynamics, handling stress and building resilience, personal goal setting, conflict resolution, accounting, book keeping and financial training, fermentation, gardening

and has conducted a number of field trips.

The women involved have diverse backgrounds, from grazing and horticulture to running their own food manufacturing plants and natural resource management.

The Women in Ag group meets once a month for a cuppa and a chat and to explore a topic of interest and provides an opportunity to ask questions and share experiences and skills. Specialist speakers are also engaged to run workshops on different topics.

The Women in Ag group meets on the last Wednesday of the month, 9-11am.

This month the group will be exploring the Putta Bucca Wetlands, learning the history of the site, and gaining some bird identification skills.

Want to get involved? Contact Watershed Landcare Co-ordinator, Agness Knapik, on 0435 055 493 or email:

The Women in Ag group is supported by Watershed Landcare and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.