Landcare workshops set to help farmers doing it tough

The Hovells Creek Landcare Group meet in the shadow of a distressed tree.
The Hovells Creek Landcare Group meet in the shadow of a distressed tree.

The Hovells Creek Landcare Group (HCLG) are set to run a number of workshops to assist local farmers, thanks to funding from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal Tackling Tough Times Together grant.

The funding will allow HCLG to run six workshops on drought and land resource management with expert speakers throughout this year.

Hovells Creek Landcare Group Chair, Gordon Refshauge, said the workshops will be managed by a coordinator who'll work one day a week, taking some of the pressure off volunteers in the existing group.

"The ongoing impact of the drought, which is entering its second year in this region, is beginning to take a toll on our volunteer committee members, as they juggle the demands of the drought on their own properties as well as the responsibilities of HCLG, so being able to employ a coordinator is fantastic," he said.

"The workshops will also provide an opportunity for community members to come together and share what they are going through.

"We will have a number of expert guest speakers teach us, for example how to navigate our way through managing mental health during the drought, while others will provide us with the latest research on decision-support tools that will help us with managing through the current drought and how to plan for future droughts.

"Together our program aims to reduce the stress that individuals and the community experience in these difficult times."

The HCLG, which numbers just under 90, consisting mainly of livestock producers, sheep for meat and wool, and beef cattle with some cropping mainly for livestock feed. Members also include part-time farmers with off-farm jobs, smaller block lifestylers and some retirees.

"The Hovells Creek catchment is steep, hilly country above the Wyangala Dam," Mr Refshauge said.

"We experience significant erosion problems when heavy rainfall events follow extended dries where minimal vegetation can be maintained.

"This results in soil washing into the river, which causes Lachlan river-bed sediment problems downstream. So, there is a whole of catchment impact.

"Grants like this one from FRRR and its donor partner Stockland CARE Foundation will allow us to adapt to our changing climate and build resilience in our community," Refshauge says.

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) was established in 2000 to support the renewal of rural, regional and remote communities in Australia through partnerships with the private sector, philanthropy and governments.