Agroforestry Network (OAN) – Satellite Peer Group Mentor Operations

In the 2014/15 financial year the Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria (NRCL) provided $20,000 for OAN to expand our work with a focus on building capacity. The funding went to improving our mentoring service, providing a quarterly newsletter, providing mentor training and enhancing other projects with six site visits. The fund has the potential to provide another $20,000 per annum over the next four years.

This year the NRCL Project enabled OAN to:

  • Ensure mentors are utilized more effectively by establishing satellite programs in our Northern Region and Southern Region. The Satellites are coordinated by Claire Dennis and Mike Robinson Koss. In the long run it is hoped to establish additional satellites in the West, around Timboon, and in the east with a focus on the Bellarine Penninsula. Satellites mean mentors in similar geographic areas and “communities of interest” can contribute to increased landholder capacity in land management; stronger communities of interest; more productive and diverse farms and stronger more connected ecosystems. The NRCL funding provided for 3 site visits, reports and mentors in each of the 2 satellite areas to complement the LEAF project in the north and the SOLN Stewardship program in the south. A total of 21 site visits were completed.
  • Conduct 2 mentor training sessions. These were run in May 2015 . The first session discussed the market processes and potential of forest products other than hardwood timber including cut flowers, native food plants and Shiitake mushrooms. Presentations were given by Mike Edwards with a special interest in specialty plants and Amanda Garner the current President of the Australian Native Foods Industry Ltd (ANFIL) whose role is to promote the commercialization of native food plants.
    The second session focused on high quality timber and processes of gaining most value from well managed and sustainable farm grown trees. Presentations were given by Paul Haar an Architect with an interest in sustainable timber; Will James from Fethers Veneers who talked about the potential for farm grown timber in the veneer market; John Hutton a local timber miller and Rowan Reid who demonstrated milling techniques and an approach to an ever evolving or dynamic perpetual and productive forest.
  • Produce a quarterly newsletter. With a growing organization over a larger geographic region the need to keep in touch with members becomes more critical. Experience has shown that the newsletter acts as a glue for people not able to get to regular functions/field days. This year NRCL assisted in funding 3 newsletters with 1 to be completed. Hopefully NRCL funding will enable OAN to produce regular newsletters over the next four years.

With some security of funding over a period of time the NRCL, in conjunction with other funding, will enable OAN to maintain and enhance its capacity. This will enable OAN to continue to assist the Australian Agroforestry Foundation introduce the Peer Group Mentor service (and the broader benefits of a strong network) to other groups around the country.

View the OAN Spring 2015 newsletter here.