In a highly urbanised country we are seeing more and more people ( of all ages) from the city buying land in country areas. Why? Many are looking for a country retreat, others are looking at starting a small farm, and some want to buy land to restore it back to its native state. I’m fortunate to meet people like this every week and I am inspired by their stories.
My concern is that small-scale landowners and absentee landowners are not being supported by their neighbors or by industry. It is these new landowners and hobby farmers that are often blamed for many rural land issues such as the spread of weeds, harboring pest animals and not taking the correct measures when it comes to livestock health.
Too many times I have heard industry professionals say that it is too much effect for too little gain to work with small-scale landowners. “The land area is not worth worrying about. Better focus our effects on the bigger properties. Bigger bang for our buck”.
So too often there is the situation where few want to assist small-scale landowners to adopt best practices and yet they are the first to blame them for rural land issues. I would argue that small-scale landowner do in fact as a collective own an increasingly large portion of land and in most cases are highly intelligent and well meaning people. No matter what the size of the property the same practices need to happen eg. weed and pest control and animal husbandry practices.
So what do we need to do for a win / win?
*Treat all landowners with the same level of respect no matter the size of their properties.
*Extension Officers and Advisors to encourage ALL landowners to follow best practice and provide support as needed.
*Talk with your neighbors about what is happening on your own farm.
*Farm suppliers to sell products in 1L, 5L and 20L packs.
*Get a copy of a Rural Landowner Handbook for your area.
In a time when so many consumers are disconnected from where their food comes from, couldn’t those fortunate to already live and work in country areas embrace new comers, share their land ownership practices and support their neighbors?