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A month of Tree Planting

For the Dirty Clean Food Impact team, July was the month of planting trees, with the second year of planting being undertaken across the whole month for the Dirty Clean Food Regenerative Farmer Tree Project.

This project has been a fantastic collaboration between Dirty Clean Food and our farmers Dale and Penny Goodwin, Stuart and Leanne McAlpine, Jamie Anderson, and Warren and Lori Pensini. It has also been a partnership between The Carbon Farming Foundation, Commonland Foundation, Boola Boornup tree nursery, Woodland services, Activate Great Southern, The Mulloon Institute, and with support from Wagin Woodanilling landcare.

I started down at Kendenup at Dale and Penny Goodwin’s farm, where we had 53,000 trees to plant across over 50 hectares. Dale and Penny and their extended family were fantastic support in what was a challenging project - wet and cold conditions, the tree planter not quite working like it should, some trees that were too small to go through the planter, and machinery breakdowns. Dale and I exercised our best farmer problem solving genes to come up with plans C, D and E, and impromptu hand planting and walking the tree lines got the majority of the trees in the ground. 

The newly formed Activate Great Southern group, headed up by Wren Bethan, hand planted around 8000 seedlings the following weekend in the lowest wettest areas. Penny has reported back that it was a very successful weekend with the community coming together to support them and get the trees in the ground, with great tunes blaring and tasty food and stories shared together. 

While I was in Kendenup, Dan Wildy from Woodland services and his team rolled out the planting across Stuart McAlpine’s Farm and Wide Open Agriculture’s East Kulinbah block up at Buntine - a much dryer and rockier affair, again with some breakdowns and paddock mechanic fixes. Dan and his team have done a fantastic job alongside Clint, as they navigated some extra tree orders at the last minute, which have been supported by the Mulloon Institute. 

After 3 weeks in Kendenup, I was back on home turf at Jamie Anderson’s farm in Williams, where another 15 000 trees were planted. It turns out we were very lucky with this year’s conditions, with it being dryer than average in Williams. This meant we were able to get the tractor and tree planter into the low areas that would usually be too wet for machinery to access. We did get a taste of this, as we worked through the weekends to try and get the trees in before a big rainfall event that was due the following week. When we checked on the trees planted the day after the rain, some areas were actually underwater! Ben Cole came and gave me a hand to get some of these trees in, and asked me some questions about tree planting and how it worked - stay tuned for these videos to be on our socials channels soon. 

Warren Pensini meanwhile began planting the second lot of his trees on his farm at Boyup Brook, with help from his brother Craig. Warren was infilling some areas that we didn’t plant out last year, as was also replanting a couple of areas that had been grazed hard by kangaroos. Warren's trees from last year are still looking great in general, and it’s amazing to see just how much they’ve grown in the last year. I think part of this is due to where he has planted them, as part of his Mulloon Rehydration plan. The trees are planted under contour banks in the middle of the hill slope, rather than just focusing on revegetating the valley floor (or least productive land), so the trees are going into deep and healthy soil, and are thriving. 

One of the highlights for me was on the last day of planting, running into Miriam Margolyes in the Williams Woolshed. When Miriam asked what I was doing, as I was wearing gumboots and overalls covered in mud (which didn’t fit the usual Williams Woolshed aesthetic), I explained that we had just finished planting 53 000 trees. This led to sitting down to lunch together, and a long conversation about regenerative agriculture and pasture raised eggs, and how we as consumers can make a difference to the health of the planet by choosing where we spend our dollars. 

After a month on the road and on tree planters, and feeling quite exhausted, this left me feeling completely uplifted, knowing that what we were doing was actually making a difference, and that we had given hope back to people who felt that climate change was too big a problem to tackle. It’s how we support each other and how we empower people to choose their future that makes the work we do worthwhile. 


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