Lower blackwood land champions
We have so many inspirational land managers, land carers & other unsung heroes within our catchment that we wanted to celebrate them and share some of their wonderful stories with you. Read on below to find out more about some of the people who make up this amazingly diverse community.
Read more about Michael's remarkable transition from lawyer & city chef to horticulturalist, farmer & wine maker.
Michael Skivinis - Master of Many Trades
"We want to make every part of the farm productive”, asserts Michael, who is currently working on planting no less than four thousand new grafted avocado trees on his family’s Rosa Glen property.
Michael has been the farm manager of the renowned Berry Farm since 2006. While the previous owners removed many of the fruit trees from the property, Michael is working toward getting trees back in the ground, Michael says’ “…we want to farm smarter”.
A well known face at the Margaret River Farmers’ Market between September through to February, Michael loves contributing to the supply of food in what he calls, “ …‘this beautiful country’, I love growing things and I love providing something that people love”.
Brock Murray - Grass Roots Learning Sets Up for Success
“I was pretty green when I started this, I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Rosa Glen community”
When Brock first started this role, one of his mentors shared with him, “it’s all about observation and that is still true” Brock maintains, “you always have to be watching and responding”.
With no farming background, Brock Murray has found his calling, working on and with the landscape, understanding the elements and caring for the animals. “It’s a humble profession, Brock expresses, “I feel connected to the earth, the weather and I’ve got to plan and react to what’s going on, it’s fantastic!”
Karridale Primary School - Grass Roots Landcare in Action
When you look through to southwest side of Karridale Primary School grounds you would never know that the beautiful bushland you see today was once overridden by weeds and used as a local dumping ground. This area, transformed over time, is still a work in progress that doubles as an invaluable holistic educational resource for all ages right in the school’s backyard.
Over the past twenty years the school, led by Principal Fiona Cormack, has taken up opportunities to be involved in nature conservation works around their local area. “Each year there are different projects, and projects within projects, so over time all the children are able to participate”, says Fiona.
Bee Winfield & Stewart Seesink - Sustainable Farming A Way of Life.
“Soil is our greatest hope”, Bee expresses at her kitchen table. Bee Winfield and Stewart Seesink are a passionate farming duo. They farm 29 acres on a rolling landscape in Nannup and 50 acres in Karridale. When I ask them what they farm they chuckle, “everything, we farm everything, sometimes we forget what we’ve planted and have lovely surprises when fruit tress mature and bear their first fruit”.
Stewart and Bee have been farming together for more than fifteen years, in the process they have become dedicated to improving their soil's health and readily share their knowledge holding soil workshops whenever they can.
Kylie Silverthorne - Shepherding, it's in the blood!
Ask this 3rd generation sheep farmer and she'll happily tell you that she just loves farming &, in particular sheep farming.
As we talk we are surrounded by her favourites (orphaned lambs, now pets), Jonny, Chardy, Squirt, Boof and Margaret to name just a few. I ask Kylie how on earth she distinguishes them, “ it’s easy”, she says, “they all have different facial features and markings”. Somehow I think that might be an inherited skill.
From lambing to shearing & wool classing as well as the associated administrative work, Kylie has gradually been learning all the aspects of managing her family’s sheep farm from her father, “not that dad will ever retire” she laughs.
Jan White & Gudrun Thiele - Knowledge & Passion A Winning Combination
Hard working volunteers are often shy about beating their own drum, this is certainly true of quiet achievers Jan White and Gudrun Thiele - through their respective community volunteer roles, both have dedicated countless hours working to protect Augusta foreshore’s health.
Together they are building a healthy social landscape as well as supporting and regenerating the local environment, nourishing the community’s landscape in more ways than one.
Gemma Todd – Multi tasking all in a days work.
Immersed in all aspects of her farm, working off farm assisting the elderly in their homes and an attentive mother of two teenage boys, farmer Gemma Todd is one of those inspirational women in agriculture, juggling her many and various roles with a genuine smile.
“Being here is not hard” she says, “I love the outdoors and I love animals”.
Gemma is passionate about small family farming, “we’re always wanting to improve how our farm works, make it more sustainable both economically and environmentally. We are mindful with every decision we make”.
Asher Cohen – Unassuming Chef, New Farmer & Land Champion
A familiar face around town, found every week at the Margaret River Farmers’ Market cooking up a breakfast storm for Jindong Free Range Pork and a chef at the popular River Hotel in Margaret River; meet Asher Cohen, our unassuming farmer in Forest Grove.
Its Asher’s first time at being a farmer and he and his partner Jade have taken on quite a challenge - their property, originally part of the soldier settlement block of the 1920’s, was in a state of disrepair when they purchased it.
Read more about Ben's philosophy and approach to ensuring their farm's sustainability into the future.
Ben McDonald - adaptability & flexibility key to success.
160 macadamia trees and 250 other fruit trees including avocados, apples, citrus , 16 varieties of hops, 1680 wool shedding sheep and a cellar door, farm shop and restaurant...
Ben’s enthusiasm is boundless, and as a fourth-generation farmer he understands his land and is happy to be sharing its bounty directly to his customers. It seems Ben has always been ready to adapt and learn new skills to ensure the future of his family’s farm is secure. A true land hero!
Kathleen Crimp - inspiration comes from family.
Kathleen, fondly known to family & friends as Kat, is an intergenerational farmer & role model for future young farmers. Despite her age, Kat already has an amazing understanding of the land and the environment she farms. Kat knows mother nature can be challenging but is ready to do whatever it takes, “flexibility is the key” she says.
Kat has grown up on her family farm in Rosa Glen, and it's clear Kat didn’t think of time spent on the farm as work, but rather as a way to spend time and connect with her grandparents and her parents. For Kat, farming life has created an indelible family bond. A passion for the land, the animals and the environment. Kat says, “it’s not just about the money, it’s a way of life, and we do this because its important.”
Jeff John - not your everyday farmer.
“We are caretakers of the land…”, wise words from one of the region’s youngest farmers Jeff John. Jeff is not your everyday farmer, just twenty-seven years old he passionate about the challenge of farming Angus beef in a truly sustainable way.
Jeff’s farming journey began in 2002 when he was just twelve years old. His father, following a dream purchased the 100 acre property in Karridale to raise beef cattle, (later increasing his land to 400 acres buying the neighbouring block).