Transforming the Wheatbelt into the Foodbelt

Innovative Partnerships for Transforming the Wheatbelt into the Foodbelt – That was the title of an incredibly inspiring talk delivered by Buntine farmer Stuart McAlpine at NACC’s recent Productive Farming Futures Forum in Coorow. It’s had me thinking about the subject matter ever since.

You can see Stuart’s presentation (and all of the others from the Forum) on the NARvis website.

Listening to Stuart in Coorow, I was inspired by his local knowledge and experience, his love for his countryside and his community, and his personal quest to be “a part of the solution” for the future of Buntine, and indeed the entire Wheatbelt.

He talked about having “hope” and “inspiration”, I suggested that he could also add “passion” to his list of obvious emotions.

I was impressed that Stuart had a 20-year plan for his farm, which was filled with solutions – from more-traditional activities such as expanding fodder and pastures and native vegetation restoration, to developing agri-tourism and ecotourism ventures and even germplasm.

Stuart is currently NACC’s “Regional Soil Champion”, and thus it’s been great to see his efforts to promote the potential of the “Foodbelt” via solid sustainable agricultural practices.

His messages are attracting lots of exposure. For example, you can see him on the front page of the latest edition of Ground Cover – the news publication of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) – talking soil health and managing soil organic carbon.

I’ve also been reflecting on Stuart’s presentation this week, after reading an article on ABC online entitled: Many children do not know where their food comes from.

In his presentation, Stuart emphasised the need for partnerships and collaboration, but also for community engagement and participation, especially with school-children, if we want a sustainable Foodbelt out here in the years ahead.

Connecting school-children to farms, and to the natural landscape, is critically important. It should be a priority for all parents and communities, and for schools, education authorities and governments.

NACC considers it a priority, and we hope the recent launch of a new edition of our natural resource management education guidebook Inland to Ocean, and lots of our community engagement activities contribute to the solution.

In the end though, it’s up to all of us to be, like Stuart, “a part of the solution”.

Richard McLellan

CEO

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