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Giving a dam

When you care about the climate and environment, and then suddenly find out you’re actually a major contributor of greenhouse gases, it’s fair to say it comes as a bit of a shock.

Let’s explain.

At The Farm we have 11 dams spread out across the property, all being used as a source of drinking water for our cattle. Thanks to the good people at Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab, we now know that farm dams are the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters of all freshwater ecosystems, producing the equivalent to 385,000 cars each day in Victoria alone. What’s more they are a hotspot for methane emissions due to those lovely cows, with methane being a greenhouse gas 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

As we were already focused on working with Landcare on rejuvenating Splitters Creek (you can read more on that ongoing project here), we now knew what our next priority had to be – creating a sustainable dam system for The Farm.

Key to enhancing the dams would be to remove cattle access and rejuvenate the biodiversity through new plantings. This would reduce GHG emissions, improve the water quality for the farm and runoff into the creek, and attract back locals such as insects and frogs.  

This is when Deakin University again comes into the picture.

Through our experience with Splitters Creek, we knew how important it was to undertake detailed planning well in advance of the project commencing to effectively engage with stakeholders and take in all considerations.

We also saw this as an amazing opportunity for a student (and maybe a budding environmentalist) to sink their teeth into and get some hands-on experience with the workforce at the same time. Enter Arlyah Garrett.

Arlyah, in her final year of her Degree in Environmental Science had to carry out an Environmental Management Plan as a key assignment for her course. She was asking around the community to find a suitable project and was recommended to talk to us. It was the perfect match. We needed to map out a clear way forward for the planting, and Arlyah would be able to roll her sleeves up on a real-life project and gain invaluable experience literally ‘in the field’.

We couldn’t be happier with the result. Thanks to Arlyah’s efforts and her collaborations with Landcare and Melbourne Water, we now have a working plan in place for planting each dam out for future seasons, including a detailed schedule of the number of plants and resources required to carry out the project. And we’re also able to use her recommendations in seeking funds from Melbourne Water for the plants and fencing to complete the dam rejuvenation.

But what we’re most happy with is the experience it has given Arlyah.

“It’s been a really important part of my degree, and a really good way to understand how projects come about and how things are done. Just being able to do this with Nina at the farm and to be so hands-on was amazing,” said Arlyah.

“What they’re doing overall at the farm is so revolutionary; how they’re prepared to open up their land to others. So being able to be involved in such a worthwhile project is very cool, especially to see how my studies can work within that area of sustainability”.

Want to volunteer at our next planting day? We’d love you or your organisation to join us for a great day of planting down at our farm. Please click here and we’ll get in touch with details.

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