A central west farmer who was impacted by the Sir Ivan Bushfire earlier this year says it is “fantastic” to have a day dedicated to the Australian agriculture industry.
National Agriculture Day is Tuesday, November 21 and celebrates Australia’s farm sector.
For Leadville farmer Rob Lennon, Gundooee, his land and fencing were extensively damaged in the February blaze.
Gundooee Organics produces premium, certified organic Wagyu incorporating ethical and ecologically regenerative farming techniques.
Mr Lennon said he hoped on National Agriculture Day consumers can take a moment to recognise the importance of good, quality food.
“When you look back through the ages, an important event was often punctuated by a meal,” he said.
“Now we eat a quick meal in the car – food has become ‘gut-fill’.
“We need to put food first and a great start would be by recognising farmers (on National Agriculture Day).”
Mr Lennon is in constant talks with his customers and said unless consumers ask for quality food, producers won’t produce it as there is no monetary incentive to do so…farmers generally are not marketers.
“Educating people about the importance of quality food is so important,” he said.
“I sell directly to end users, and I get the opportunity to talk to my customers all of the time. The feedback really drives me. For me and my business, being able to have that level of pride is so important to me.”
A typical day for him is very different to twelve months ago. Mr Lennon’s days are now spent re-fencing, rebuilding and looking after stock.
He’s hopeful some good quality rain in the next week would help improve things as it has been very dry since the fire.
Mr Lennon said there was little rain over winter which has continued into spring, so no real recovery for the pastures has occurred.
“It’s still dry… it’s impossible to get a decent recovery,” he said.
Although the property, like many others, has been affected the fire, Mr Lennon said there was still a lot of positivity within the community.
“You can’t let it get you down. When you sign up to be a farmer, you’ve got to be resilient,” he said.
Mr Lennon is not originally from an agricultural background, but has been farming for over 30 years and says one of the best things about being a farmer is the wonderful sense of pride and belonging, which he now provides for his own children.
“There was so much sense of community after the fires, and unbelievable acts of generosity from both in and outside the district,” Rob said.
“Owning 2000 acres of land is a huge responsibility.. I want to keep it in the best order I can, and for the generations to follow – I am but a custodian of the land.
“Farming is so rewarding.”
Since Blaze Aid left in mid September the fencing and water on Mr Lennon’s property was at least in a functioning state, but he said it will be a long time before things are back to normal.
“It could be a lot worse,” Mr Lennon said.
“People are still rebuilding houses or sheds.. recovery is a very long way off.”
Mr Lennon said “I never appreciated my farm as much as I do now.”
“I’ve got a very long drive way, so usually, not many people come in.. but since the fires I’ve literally seen literally hundreds of cars coming up my road - mostly to help out.
“I could write a book about the acts of kindness.”