The Mulloon Institute  -  Enews - August 2018

From the Chairman, The Mulloon Institute

The heading for this month's update is not a typo. I'll explain shortly. But firstly I trust I'm forgiven for missing my July update, there was a bit happening towards the end of July and early August that occupied my time. You will have received my note regarding the passing of our Founder, Tony Coote AM, and the information regarding the two celebrations of his life.

So with Tony's passing I could have chosen a word such as "anguish" for the August update but that would be negative and certainly not in keeping with Tony's values. "Acclamation", Acknowledge" or "Appreciating" would have been apt in recognizing Tony. Or given the state of much of the nation "Arid" August would definitely be appropriate.

However I've chosen "august", meaning "inspiring awe; imposing; worthy of respect; venerable (dignity)". Yes this month's update is "August" August in recognition of Tony Coote who was inspiring, imposing, very worthy of respect and venerable.

Celebrating Tony Coote AM

The loss of Tony to Toni and family, to all of us at The Mulloon Institute (TMI), Mulloon Creek Natural Farms (MCNF), Mulloon Consulting Contracting & Certifying (MCCC) and to our nation was recognized at a celebration of his life in Sydney on 31 August and in the barn at the Home Farm on 9 September. 

I delivered two tributes on behalf of TMI emphasizing the wonderful legacy that Tony has left the nation. Our Patron,  Michael Jeffery , unfortunately couldn't attend but provided his own tribute that highlighted Tony's vision and its relevance at a national level. Professor John Crawford  from Rothamsted Research in the UK and a member of our Science Advisory Council flew out for the occasion and focused on Tony's impact internationally and the partnership between our two organisations. And a new bronze sculpture of Tony Coote has been commissioned that will grace MCNF in honour of his memory, legacy and vision. You can read all the tributes here.

We have lost a great man but as I said in my tribute, "my commitment is to see Tony Coote's inspirational legacy living on forever in the multitude of landscapes we repair and rehydrate." 
Rothamsted Research - UK/Australia Alliance

While John Crawford was in Australia we were able to spend some time discussing aspects of his work at  Rothamsted Research and the prospect of a UK/Australia partnership based around Rothamsted's farm and Mulloon as demonstration sites. The UK is looking beyond Europe in its post-Brexit period and Australia is an ideal partnership for northern/southern hemisphere agricultural research. Hopefully this will be taken further.  Read more about John's visit.

John also caught up with Steve Dovers, Chair of our Science Advisory Council, with the Australian National University's new Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Tech (CEAT) one of the topics. This centre is just being established but it may well be something that might be relevant to our work. 

Yes, Minister!

The event that I was so looking forward to report on in this update unfortunately didn't happen. For quite some time I had been liaising with the Prime Minister's office with respect to him paying a visit to TMI and MCNF. The reason it took so long to organize was due to the fact that the PM didn't want to come alone. He wanted the Agriculture Minister and the Assistant Environment Minister to accompany him. He understood that our work cuts across portfolios and so wanted all the relevant people there. And he as Prime Minister was equally relevant in his view.

So a couple of months ago a date was decided and locked into each Minister's diary. They were to be on the farm for a full two hours from 2pm till 4pm on Friday 24 August. Well we know what actually happened at 2pm on Friday 24 August, don't we? Yes, a new Prime Minister was installed!

How was that for timing? "Unbelievable" most people have commented. So unbelievable, that The Australian newspaper even ran an article on it. I used a few other choice words!

Very disappointing for us all as the whole team had put an incredible effort into the preparation for the day. We planned to show them part of the creek system and that, despite no rain in the catchment for some time, water continues to flow from "Peter's Pond". Peter Andrews was to be there for that demonstration. We then had a presentation from our Patron, Michael Jeffery, on behalf of his Soils For Life, one from Peter Hazell and then myself which was to include where the government should be directing its efforts (and money) with respect to a drought response policy. I can assure you it would have been very convincing. In fact, the former PM's adviser on environment, agriculture and water, in a subsequent private meeting with me, agreed we were correct in our approach and the quantum of funding suggested.

We now must ensure our work is not wasted. The new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said his first priority was dealing with the drought response which encourages me to think a re-scheduled visit will not be far away. But unfortunately I also know how a change in political leadership brings all sorts of turmoil and disruption. Fortunately David Littleproud remains the Agriculture Minister and Melissa Price is now the Environment Minister so that continuity should help. I'll keep you posted.

Tony was obviously aware of the planned visit prior to him passing and the fact I'd organized the two Ministers as well as the Prime Minister gave him great joy that his vision to bring our great work to the highest level of the Federal Government was coming to fruition. We can't let him down on that.

Mulloon Creek Natural Farms

With Tony Coote's recent passing, Mulloon Creek Natural Farms will now be overseen by The Mulloon Institute. Rest assured we'll still be producing the same high quality, certified organic eggs that you love and trust, from free-ranging hens raised on biodynamic pastures. All profits will continue going towards our ongoing research into landscape restoration.

Meanwhile on MCNF there is lots of activity at Duralla with expansion of our egg production. A new brood shed is well progressed with its first day old chicks due to occupy it in September. Another legacy left by Tony is an expanding organic, biodynamic, agricultural enterprise that will be the living demonstration site under the supervision of The Mulloon Institute. 

We also welcome Tony Booth to the MCNF team as Sales and Marketing Manager of the poultry operations. Tony previously ran the Bungendore Food Lovers Market and brings with him a wealth of business development and advertising sales experience.

And we are super proud to present to you our  NEW WEBSITE!
Mulloon Consulting, Contracting & Certifying

Cam Wilson headed up to Sonoma Station, Collinsville in Northern Queensland during August for the third in a series of Landscape Rehydration workshops being run by NQ Dry Tropics. Interest in our work continues to grow in the region and a group will be heading south in October for a tour of regenerative agriculture enterprises in southern NSW, including TMI and MCNF.  Read more about the workshop here.

MCCC have also been busy working on a farm planning exercise for The Scots College's 'Bannockburn' property, looking at water and fertility management across the site, identifying suitable agricultural enterprises and their appropriate location, and experiential education opportunities.

NOTE - Landholders in the ACT are advised to check out the ACT Resilience Grants (closing 17 September 2018) which will co-fund: farm resilience planning (up to $5000) and on-ground works and infrastructure (up to $10,000). Both of these are areas in which MCCC could be engaged. Other states are advised to contact their local natural resource management group to see what assistance is available.

And in July, MCCC ventured up to the Life of Mine conference in Brisbane where  Pete Hazell's presentation on  the  'Landscape regeneration lessons learned from Mulloon Creek' was very well received. The event  provided us with a great chance to consider how our landscape rehydration work can assist with the final stage of a mine's life cycle.

Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project

TMI are working to restore the health and vitality of the entire Mulloon catchment through the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project, covering 23,000ha of land and 50kms of streams. This  spring we'll need hands-on volunteers to help with on-ground works for one or more full days, between 15 October and 1 December 2018. Groups are encouraged to take part too. Find out more.

Natural Sequence Farming training dates

Our Natural Sequence Farming course with Tarwyn Park Training is now a pre-approved course with the NSW Rural Assistance Authority, meaning that eligible NSW farmers and primary producers can apply for reimbursement of up to 50% of the course costs. Read more.

Upcoming dates:
12-15 November 2018 - fully booked, waiting list only.
11-14 March 2019 - bookings now open. Call Peter on 0427 075 397.

Drone footage of the step diffusion system installed at 

o the trained eye, the steps and zones are reasonably apparent. The results are astounding considering we've had very little rain since the system was installed during the NSF course in March 2018. Thanks to ANU Honours student Ming-Dao Chia for the footage. 
Other news
In the media
Apocalypse Then  (The Australian)
Tony's ongoing legacy

In closing this "August" August update, I emphasise again the wonderful legacy bestowed upon TMI by Tony Coote. While we, who were close to Tony, knew what an amazing visionary leader he was, it may be some time before much of what he did and advocated for is fully understood by many others. The Board of TMI will not let Tony's work fade. In fact we are determined to do the complete opposite in taking it to many parts of the country and internationally, shouting from the roof tops if we have to, and ensuring the maximum benefit is achieved for the environment, for farming and for society.
See you next month but a quick tip - look out for an episode of Australian Story coming up in early October (1st or 8th)!


Gary Nairn AO
The Mulloon Institute, Chairman


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