Within the five sectors LAND USE, ENERGY, WASTE, BUILDINGS and TRANSPORT, a great deal is already happening within the Byron Shire.
OUR STORIES features Byron Shire residents, their work or business, where they have responded to climate change and taken significant action. In other words, these people walk their talk.
To kick off the series, ZEB intern, Hanna Mazlenski checked out Dingo Lane Farms in Myocum and spoke with Lindsay Murray.
Up in the valley of Myocum, lies Dingo Lane Farms – a farm of 250 acres dedicated to revegetating and regenerating the land that was once degraded by a dairy farm. The phase of new growth began in 2006 when Lindsay Murray and his partner bought the first 20 acres of Dingo Lane Farms. At the time, Lindsay was travelling between Perth and Sydney as an Academic Emergency Physician and looked at the Myocum land as a place to unwind from the demands of his career. Lindsay realised that the purpose of the land was more than just a quick get away.
“There was a deeper unrecognised desire to be involved in more significant land care and farming activities”, said Lindsay.
Perhaps this draw to care for the valley stemmed from Lindsay’s childhood farm in Western New South Wales. In the 17 years he was there, Lindsay witnessed farming practices that created significant damage to the land. “On the environmental level, the land was completely trashed, said Lindsay. “The major issue by the time I left home was the salinity issue so all the native vegetation started to die.” Growing up with that experience provided Lindsay the confidence to plant and grow seeds of his own.
A desire to “do something that produced food”
With the strong purpose of giving back to the land, the first steps to creating Dingo Lane Farms were taken. Lindsay began by developing objectives and intentions to create the foundation of his regenerative farming practice. “Whatever we did, it had to result in improvement in the natural environment: soil, vegetation, and water were the sort of things that seemed most important to me,” Lindsay said. “And we had to do something that produced food.”
The goal of producing food is what began the relationship between the British White cattle and Lindsay. He guided and utilised his herd of 100 British Whites across his acreage. Despite the negative reputation cattle hold when relating to the environment, Lindsay’s cattle have helped him bring life back into his land. “A lot of people see cattle as the problem and not a part of the solution. I don’t think it is as simple as that,” said Lindsay. “I started a plan to set up this grazing operation. I looked into various things and it seemed that there was a lot of interesting stuff in terms of regenerative practices with grazing, in particular controlled grazing.”
From there, Lindsay began to strategically categorise the land either as paddocks for grazing, or areas for regeneration. The pockets that carried previous vegetation, steep slopes, and eroded sections were declared regrowth areas and the paddocks then were designed based around fencing, shade, and water. Today, 15% of Dingo Lane Farms has been purely dedicated to regenerative growth. With the combination of controlled grazing and revegetating, the farm is host to healthy livestock, pasture grass that reaches the knees, native plants, active wildlife, and fruiting trees. The health of the land has allowed Dingo Lane Farm to stretch beyond its fences and contribute to the community, something Lindsay had always planned to do.
Happiness from being part of the local community
“You never have personal happiness if you’re not integrated within your community,” Lindsay said. “There are a lot of people who move here and isolate themselves in big mansions and they only want to take and not be a part in the community at all.”
Through this objective, Dingo Lane Farms contributes to the local farmers’ markets, permaculture classes, landcare field days, animal systems workshops, and other community opportunities. Lindsay has prioritised a symbiotic relationship with the farm, the land, and the community. This natural process has created the feeling of give and take and can be expanded beyond just Dingo Lane Farms of the Myocum valley. “We have chosen to live here,” said Lindsay. “We need to look after and rehabilitate our landscape.”