US farming expert excites producers

US farming expert excites producers

SJ Food and Farm Alliance president Merri Harris, events coordinator Ellen Walker, famer and guest speaker Joel Salatin, events manager Stacey Smithers and SJ Food and Farm Alliance treasurer Jackie Dines. Photograph – Colleen Rankin.

The Serpentine Jarrahdale Food and Farm Alliance welcomed renowned American farmer and lecturer Joel Salatin on March 5.

The internationally recognised Mr Salatin, who was featured in Time magazine, was the world’s most innovative farmer and he spent the day at Jarrahdale Primary School auditorium to address more than 70 farmers and property owners.

Food and Farm Alliance president Merri Harris said Mr Salatin was an entertaining speaker who came with a wealth of knowledge.

“He had so much information to impart,” she said.

“We had people travel from as far afield as Denmark, Northam and the Wheatbelt to hear his words of wisdom.”

Ms Harris said Mr Salatin’s first topic of discussion was about giving people the courage to start growing and producing food.

“He addressed all of the fears that budding food producers have which are holding them back from progressing their ideas and dreams,” she said.

“He encouraged people to start small and do the opposite of industrialised farming, to find a mentor and to get started and learn from experience.”

Ms Harris said he emphasized that farming and growing food has nothing to do with the ownership of the land and he gave multiple examples of people growing food in different ways all over the world.

“He really made the point of staying debt free, living cheaply, growing your own food and staying at home and enjoying the land and the food,” she said.

“He encouraged the budding farmer to love people, find collaborative partners and to operate the business in innovative but collaborative ways.”

Ms Harris said Mr Salatin also discussed the relationship between farming and the environment.

“He noted that no ecological system in the world is without animals as they form an important part of the cycle of life and health of the soil,” she said.

“Using animals and the full cycle of life for all parts of the ecology improves soil health and puts carbon back into the soil, as the manure of one is the food for another part of the system.

“He said that thriving ecological systems are based on perennial plants not annuals and that grass perennials are more efficient at converting biomass than trees.

“Perennials are less risky to grow and support poly cultures not mono cultural practices.”

Ms Harris said alliance jumped at the chance to have Mr Salatin for the day.

“We have had nothing but praise and excitement from all attendees,” she said. “People loved the food and the information and some have already reported going home and starting on new projects.”