Small landholders as a collective clientèle are challenging to engage due to their diverse rural lifestyles, off-farm employment, transient/absent nature and social disconnect with traditional community networks. The Small Farms Network, established in 2004, captures this rapidly expanding landholder demographic, functioning as a regional hub for workshops, natural resource management funding and the delivery of a whole of farm sustainable land management.
Work undertakenThe network has 622 members across the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands districts. Twelve workshops were delivered on a variety of integrated land management topics, building the capacity and skills of more than 350 landholders annually. It currently maintains communication with small landholders and the wider community through a regular e-newsletter.
- A free social resource network for small landholders to access information on a wide range of land management issues not readily available through existing programs.
- The establishment of industry sub-networks provides small landholders the opportunity to enter the learning spectrum at different levels depending on their interests and ability.
- Delivery of a wide range of workshops which act as engagement hooks for landholders.
- Regular distribution of an e-newsletter which is a main information source for local events for small landholders.
- Whole of farm approach to land management.
During 2015, the network supported the establishment of the Shoalhaven Beekeepers Association and Capital Region Small Farms Network.The Milton Rocks project was funded for three years along with the Small Farms Network being awarded the 2015 NSW Blue Star Sustainability Community Environmental Achievement Award and the 2015 NSW Australian Government Landcare Facilitator Award.