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Greening NSW

Family farm brought back to life after fire

He may live in Sydney, but Andrew Moore will happily tell you that his heart belongs in Taralga.

Found in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, that’s where he and his wife Beverley maintain their family farm Back’O’Slaters, living there part time in a house they built in 2007.

Back’O’Slaters is a stony patch of land and, as Andrew puts it, “probably the worst part of the old Grathawai”, a larger patch of land that’s been in Beverly’s family since the middle of the 19th century.

When the couple moved in, Back’O’Slaters was covered in pine trees, owing to its past as a plantation. In 2013, though, bushfire tore through the property.

It was the largest fire in the area seen in generations. Firefighters from the NSW Rural Fire Service and the National Parks in 40 fire trucks, planes and helicopters worked tirelessly to control the blaze. While they succeeded in protecting adjoining forests and stopping the fire’s spread, the damage to Back’O’Slaters was done.

Amongst the shrivelled and charred pine trees (which, unlike eucalypts, do not regrow), Andrew and Beverly were left with the enormous task of rebuilding their farm.

“One thing the fire taught me was that we didn’t want to be responsible for animals,” Andrew said.

“As any farmer will tell you, if you’re not going to have stock, you should grow trees.”

The couple then went about researching how they could restore their property. Putting expensive pasture in would’ve been beyond their financial means, so they needed to look for a more affordable alternative.

A name came up during their search that piqued their interest – ‘Greenfleet’.

“I hadn’t heard of Greenfleet before, but we looked into them and what they do and went from there,” Andrew said.

After getting in touch with Greenfleet and working out the logistics, planting got underway.

Andrew’s said the planting process was very positive, and he was particularly impressed with Greenfleet contracting the work to a reputable nursery in the area, which employed good, passionate people for the labour, and treated them well.

The team battled rain, hail, snow and howling cold wind during their time at Back’O’Slaters – but they were not deterred. As Andrew worked inside, stopping regularly to offer moral support and shout the workers a beer or two, his property was brought back to life.

During their time at Back’O’Slaters, Greenfleet planted more than 46,000 trees across 60 hectares, using 26 species native to the area.

Of the process, Andrew said he and Beverley were proud of their decision.
“It has been really cost effective for us, and it’s good to be doing something for the environment.”

Importantly, no financial burden was placed on the couple for the revegetation – Greenfleet landholders do not pay to have their properties planted on.

While neither Andrew nor Beverley classify themselves as ‘greenies’, they are happy to have done their bit for the environment and now have the added benefit of enjoying the growing eucalyptus forest on their property. Andrew says, “watching the trees grow has been great, and an educational experience for our grandchildren”.

Since the end of winter, Greenfleet visited the farm and completed a progress report and, great news - the trees are thriving.

If you’re a landowner interested in revegetating with Greenfleet, get in touch today at greenfleet.org.au/Landowners

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