Although agriculture may not be our biggest industry nor our most valuable direct income-generator, this industry remains extremely important to us and those who visit and work in the shire.
With the seasons getting dryer and hotter throughout Australia, the Macedon Ranges remains in a relatively protected micro-climate that still experiences good rainfall and reasonably good growing seasons.
Macedon Ranges is well known for its local produce, for example: wine; food; fibre (vegetable and animal); flowers; beer, cider and gin. These productions support our local restaurants, and growers and makers transport their produce short distances to Melbourne diners, and also export to overseas markets.
We have weekend fresh produce markets in nearly all our towns now, and many producers work with others to create combinations that you can not achieve elsewhere.
Our agricultural landscapes are also an important part of tourism, and our own mental health.
Watching 4corners on the ABC tonight, on Charles Massy, reminded me of how many of our farmers are embracing regenerative agriculture: restoring the land to make it more productive and better for biodiversity and the planet.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council was successful in obtaining a grant to employ a staff member for 2 years to assist farmers to learn more about the interactions of their work & practices with the natural environment, and how they can modify their approach to reduce costs and improve soil quality. They also often learn about traditional owner practices at the same time.
It has been shown that this form of farming creates better mental health for farmers, and makes them more resilient in times of stress.
I have supported the biodiversity strategy of Council, that required significant budget input. It is now helping us to create better environmental outcomes for all: our farmers, visitors, local residents, local businesses and most of all our rare and special native species.