Practical examples of sustainable farming techniques such as polyface farming, permaculture, forest gardens, edible cattle hedges, biological farming and organics all feature in a Sustainable Farming Film Festival coming to Okato’s Hempton Hall next Saturday 24 November.
Climate Justice Taranaki have hit the headlines a lot since they formed in late 2010, criticising new oil and gas exploration, in particular the dangerous technique called fracking, but the group is not just about saying ‘NO’ to more fossil fuels. Climate Justice Taranaki has also made it their responsibility to help get solutions out to those in positions to significantly reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. Farming is one industry that contributes a fair chunk of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions but it could also be the leading ‘carbon farming’ industry if it changes its ways.
The group’s Sustainable Farming Film Festival follows on from their Renewable Technology Forum held last year which featured DIY information from locals who were getting off the grid and installing clean, green energy production. This week’s film festival focuses on ideas to put the carbon back into the ground and dramatically decrease the dependence on fossil fuels for fertiliser and sprays while increasing the health of farming communities and produce.
The Sustainable Farming Film Festival will run from 6 to 9pm on Saturday 24 November at Hempton Hall in Okato. Doors open 5:30pm. It will feature three films and three short talks with question and answer time from local organic farmers Su Hammond and Roydon Phillips alongside two farmers from the Association of Biological Farmers.
“Because of Roydon’s and my concern about the amount of chemicals used in the dairy industry we have chosen to farm with a natural approach…[and] chosen to be Certified Organic. We make our own fish fertiliser, worm compost, comfrey and seaweed brews, composted bedding from our standoff pad, all of this we spread onto our farm with our effluent to boost nutrients for pasture growth. We drench our calves using a brew of Apple Cider Vinegar with an addition of our own garlic, wormwood. We also make available to our young calves sea water as it contains so many minerals and it is local.” explains Su Hammond.
One of the speakers for the Association of Biological Farmers, Malcolm White, sadly lost his daughter to leukaemia seven years ago due, he believes, to agrichemicals used on his farm. Since then he has teamed up with the Biological Farmers Association and now runs a chemical free farm imitating the Serengeti to build up healthy soil and pasture for his animals.
Tony Robinson said “My interest in biological farming goes back some 20 years. The knowledge and experience I have gained has led me to a job as biological farm adviser for a company called BioAg (www.bioag.co.nz). The work with Bio Ag covers Dairy, Sheep & Beef farms, Cropping, vegetables, orchards and vineyards and the treatment of all forms of effluent. One of my specialty subjects is “Weeds and what they tell”.
“In the age of peak oil and climate change, we are lucky to have skilled and experienced pioneers such as these speakers to help guide us to a future of sustainable farming.” said CJT organiser Emily Bailey.
The event is completely free and open to the public. Food and drinks will be on sale. Stalls with information and products associated with sustainable farming will also be on site. Come along and find out more. For further information or to get in touch about holding a stall see http://www.climatejusticetaranaki.info or contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
OUR FILM REVIEWS:
The first film of the night is ‘A farm for the future’ (49mins) which follows a young British woman taking over the family farm from her elderly father and her investigation into the decline of British farming, food scarcity and peak oil and in particular how to farm without dependence on fossil fuels. She explores increasing pasture crop diversity, edible hedges and introducing horticulture such as food forests and gardens. It’s brilliant and will completely change your ideas on conventional farming, especially the age old tradition of ploughing that is destroying British soils.
The second film is Austrian mountain farmer Sepp Holzer’s short ‘Aquaculture’ documentary (31mins). Sepp is world renowned for his simple techniques of trapping and purifying water to irrigate food crops naturally and grow fish for market while generating micro-hydro power, all in the beautiful steep mountains of Austria. Many New Zealand waterways are now pretty polluted but this film re-inspires the importance of these ecosystems that can provide peace of mind, renewable energy and an abundance of food.
The third film ‘Fresh’ (1hr 10mins) features several entrepreneurs in the United States who have set up sustainable and thriving farming businesses. Straight talking Joe Salatin is especially well-known for his facts on intensive industrial farming versus his polyface farming where he rotates mobs of beef cattle with free-ranging layer hens, pigs and broiler chickens to maximise use of the pasture while eliminating effluent problems, the need to purchase fertiliser and seed and massively reducing his pest control and vet costs. His diverse business is far more productive, costs less and runs less risk than monoculture, conventional farming. It also enriches the natural ecosystem.