Open  Day at Palmers Beach Farm
by Judy Gilbert

Over 20 people turned out on a magnificent Great Barrier day in May for an Open Day and workshop entitled Farmland in Transition. The Trust’s aim with the workshop was to look at the changing face of farming – the bringing together of more sustainable farm practices and restoration/ conservation activities.

Hosts Chris Morton and Biddie Winstone, along with project manager, John Sutton started the day with the story of the restoration to date of the old farming property. This was followed by a bracing walk through planted areas, small man made wetland areas, planted and erosion proofed coastal cliffs, and areas of regeneration on the coastal dunes now they are fenced off from stock. Many examples of the local employment created by this restoration project were shared – from shooting rabbits, to fencing, to sourcing and planting, to reforming of roads and drains. The farm is to keep much of its open pasture for raising cattle with specimen trees and fenced groves of planting strategically placed to maintain view shafts.

Speakers included Bill Burrill – an Auckland Regional Council Councillor and old time Barrierite, Monica Peters from the Landcare Trust, and Trevor Wadams and Garrick McCarthy from the ARC. Topics included Trevor’s presentation on the management of farms in Auckland Regional Parks where a mix of farming and conservation takes place. This showed how the Farm Parks are trialing innovative ways of stocking to reduce impact on the environment, promoting healthy growth with mixed grasses, and reducing the use of chemicals. Monica Peters gave examples of communities of farmers working together to improve stream health, and shared ways that funding can be sourced to achieve this sort of work. Garrick McCarthy talked about managing pests on farms and discussed some of the new rat bait products that are being trialed which aim to give better results with less side effects.

Thank you to sponsors D.o.C for a great lunch , and the ARC and Landcare Trust for the travel and time of their speakers.

The attendees on the open day against the magnificent backdrop of
Palmers Beach and the blue Pacific. Photo: Fenella Christian