Unlocking Regenerative Opportunities in the Perth Hills

What do you get when you mix weeds, microbes, clover and fungi, with a good dose of apple cider? Our recent Regenerative Horticultural Systems Field Day, that’s what!

We welcomed more than 60 engaged and eager participants to the Core Cider property in Pickering Brook on 16 February 2023 to learn how regenerative practices can be implemented into perennial horticulture and what market opportunities exist for regenerative products.

Keynote speaker and internationally recognised soil expert Dr Christine Jones captivated the audience with her wealth of knowledge and ideas, encouraging people to think differently about weeds and mixed-species groundcover.

We know healthy soil is essential for any good horticulture practice, but to build a resilient farming enterprise and restore balance to a long-degraded system, we learnt it is important to have a diversity of species – and diversity all starts with seeds.

Dr Jones also explained the core microbiome – consisting of bacteria, archaea, fungi and protists – and how it helps to promote the growth of the plant. Did you know that there can be up to 9 billion microbes in one barley seed?

Thanks to the core microbiome, plants already have all the microbes they need for essential functions, but once ‘planted’ a rhizosphere microbiome forms in the soil – a symbiotic relationship between healthy functioning soils and plants that can help build resilience and health.

Growing at least four functional plant families together enhances soil health and encourages robust soil functionality. Dr Jones gave examples of perennial crops and grounds covers growing alongside each other to mutually benefit the soil and crop health, such as chicory, plantain, tillage radish, clover and oats.

We were fortunate to also hear from others in the regenerative agriculture industry. Blythe Calnan shared her regenerative journey and highlighted the importance of incorporating livestock to enhance ecological function and production.

Tony Della Bosca gave an insight into the economics of regenerative agriculture, its overarching principles and the first steps to transition into a regenerative production system.

Maree Gouch involved participants with an interactive business planning session for climate resilience and the value-adding opportunities for regenerative products.

The day finished with a panel discussion on how to bring regenerative products to market. Panellists included Craig Pensini from Dirty Clean Food, Sue Logan from Naturally Nurtured and Nathalie Brooks from DPIRD Agribusiness Food and Trade.

We started out with the goal of inspiring, educating and connecting people and, happily, we succeeded. The day was another step forward in creating positive ecological impact through regenerative agriculture. Thank you to everyone involved, including the fabulous presenters and attendees for your energy and insights.

The Regenerative Horticultural Systems Field Day was hosted by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Perth NRM and RegenWA.

This event was supported by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Soil Wise Program. Soil Wise is funded by the National Landcare Program Smart Farms Small Grants – an Australian Government initiative. It is supported by Healthy Estuaries WA – a State Government program