Smart farms: sharing ideas to help ageing landowners

This is a photograph of a rainbow in the rural landscape.

Council has begun work on an innovative project with the community to develop community-led land management solutions to assist older people to remain on their rural properties.

Called ‘Smart Farms: Sustaining Land – Sustaining People‘, the aim of the project is to identify and collaborate on innovative ideas that can assist ageing Nillumbik landowners. It is hoped the solutions developed along the way could also benefit other similar local government areas.

Community members of all ages are invited to a free event at Wadambuk in St Andrews on Saturday 23 July from 11.30am-1pm, where Council will host guest speakers and seek expressions of interest from attendees about joining upcoming ‘co-design’ workshops to be held later in the year.

Council, Open Food Network and Fair Share Fare will work in conjunction with community members at these workshops to identify solutions to this complex problem. Open Food Network helps communities with the tools and resources for creating food systems that are fair, local, and transparent, while Fair Share Fare specialises in researching and collaborating on community projects with a focus on food.

Those who don’t want to commit to the additional workshops can share their thoughts and ideas on the project at the St Andrews community event.

Mayor Frances Eyre said the project was a first step in supporting residents to live and stay healthy in the community.

“As people age, the rural land management activities they have carried out for many years can become overwhelming,” Cr Eyre said.

“We know many residents have needed to leave their homes and even the Shire to downsize as their property becomes too much to manage – which is a shame.

“We hope initiatives like this will not only give older residents support to stay in their homes and on their land, but will help reduce isolation and create connections in our community.”

Prue Rothwell, project co-ordinator of Open Food Network Australia, said the project provides an opportunity for Council to work with the community, local landowners and relevant groups and organisations to build community-led solutions.

“We’re aiming to support ageing landowners to maintain and stay on their properties, while improving land management, minimising unproductive land and bolstering Nillumbik’s food economy,” she said.

At the St Andrews event, participants will have the opportunity to hear from:

  • Smiths Gully General Store’s Lydia Heap
  • Thanisa Adams of Wattle Gully Produce
  • Dunmoochin Landcare’s Mel Nelson

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