In today's episode we learn about the Plant Swap program, the history of Greensill Farming Group, hear the fourth song from Art as an Act of Optimism project funded by the Regional Arts Development Fund, featuring local artist Pete O'Brien, and get some great book recommendations from our librarians.
Local news highlights include the 120 year old anniversary of the Burnett Bridge opening, the Queensland Variety Bash, and a new Kepnock footpath. In development news, the Mayor has called for state political candidates to commit to improving boat ramps in the region, and Council is planning a consultation with community to create a policy for buffer zones between farms and new residential areas.
Podcast transcript to follow
Dana Maggacis 0:08
Hello, and welcome to the weekly Bundaberg Now podcast. I'm Dana Maggacis from Bundaberg Regional Council. And today we have another interesting programme with news and information from across the Bundaberg region. Soon we'll hear about the plant swap programme. A little bit of the story behind Greensill Farming Groupr, another great tune from Art As An Act of Optimism and get some great book recommendations from our librarians. But first, here's Michael Gorey with the news headlines.
Michael Gorey 0:40
Thank you, Dana. Making news this week. The iconic Burnett Bridge in Bundaberg is 120 years old after being officially opened on 24th of August 1900. The bridge was a major engineering achievement and opened with great fanfare. A special historical exhibition of photographs and artefacts, opens at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery on Saturday, with free entry until the 18th of October. The popular Queensland Variety Bash will start in Bundaberg this year, bringing 100 cars and 300 people into the region for several days. Bundaberg Regional Council is sponsoring the event, which it says will inject $180,000 into the local economy. Ben Searle from Searles RV Centre has welcomed the news.
Ben Searle 1:27
We're really grateful that the Council have got involved. As part of my business as I mentioned, we'll be taking the Kombi and I'd encourage any other local businesses to get involved even if you're not a local business if you're if it's a local darts – four mates at the darts competition, get involved and let's get right behind it.
Michael Gorey 1:49
Council is completing a new footpath in Kepnock to complete a link between the existing pathway on Kepnock Road, west of Baird Street to the existing Ring Road pedestrian refuge. In future the pathway will connect to the Belle Eden Estate. Kepnock High School principal Nicholas Howkins says the new footpath will improve safety for staff and students.
Nicholas Howkins 2:10
What it means for our schools at the end of the school day when close to 1000 students go out our front gate, we've got a nice safe, wide footpath at the front, particularly in wet and rainy conditions. This could have been a mud bath out here. So now we have a nice, smooth, safe area. It's safe for them to get to their parents to the bus. And now that it's going to stretch all the way down to Belle Eden, it's just another benefit for our students as they leave the school and hopefully get home nice and safe. And this is just a greatway for the our students to feel that way.
Michael Gorey 2:43
Mayor Jack Dempsey has called on state political candidates to commit to improving boat ramps in the Bundaberg region. He says a 2017 report recommended seven potential sites but none have been delivered. Finally, Council will consult the community on a policy to provide buffer zones between farms and new residential areas. In this special report, we now hear from Mayor Jack Dempsey and Development Group Manager Michael Ellery.
Jack Dempsey 3:11
For the first time, a Queensland council will be protecting farmer's rights. One of the issues identified was agricultural buffer zones, particularly where we have greater encroachment of urbanisation in areas, then, by having getting rid of those inconsistencies there have been in the past, we now have buffers to be able to protect those farmers rights, and the developers can have a clear direction of what they need to do in the future. Some of the inconsistencies that we've seen and issues in the past have involved everything from from noise, from dust, to smell, to lights on to operations and so forth. But we believe that this will be a great advantage and a significant advantage for the Bundaberg region to attract further investment into the future. So that's why we've consulted with everyone from UDIA to Canegrowers to Bundaberg Fruit and Veggies and other stakeholders that will make it easier for everybody because everyone's participated in the consultation.
Michael Ellery 4:14
The agricultural buffer is a vegetative buffer that manages the interface between residential development and agricultural development, usually along property boundaries. It's important because it gives certainty to both residents of those areas, plus the farmers that live that are working next door to them, that they can both do what they want to do without interfering with each other's enjoyment of life. So under the current state planning policy arrangements, there's a general requirement to provide buffers, but there's no real guidance provided to developers or farmers about what those buffers should look like. Our policy offers different solutions depending on whether there's cane or small crops, orchards or nut farms. And also solutions for cane railways and things like that. Each sort of scenario requires a different solution. And we're trying to make it easy for people to have a solution that's backed by science that will help address those issues. The standard approach would be to provide a 40 metre wide buffer, usually down the middle of that 20 metres of that would be planted with trees and shrubs. Now, our policy suggests different solutions depending on what's happening next door. So there'll be recommendations about the types of plants to be used, how densely they should be planted, and how they should be maintained, so that they can reach maturity and provide that protection that we're looking for. I think it'll make it more viable for both farming and urban development, you know, in those areas where it's appropriate, and will reduce conflict that goes on and it'll make it easier for you know, developers and farmers to do what they do best. What the Council's decided today is to go to public consultation and we're looking for feedback from all stakeholders.
Michael Gorey 6:03
Thank you, Michael. And back to you, Dana.
Dana Maggacis 6:05
Thanks, Michael. Now, I'll hand over to Roana O'Neill from Parks, who's here to tell us about the 2020 Plant Swap Program.
Roana O'Neill 6:13
If you're a homeowner and you have weeds in your garden and you'd like to replace them with free native plants, then you might be interested in the Plant Swap Program. We know that environmental weeds are a major problem in Queensland causing huge environmental damage. The Plant Swap Program is a great initiative from the Land Protection team at Council and it's a way to help remove those unwanted weeds from our urban areas. If you're interested in the program, all you have to do is contact Council and register for the program. A Land Protection Officer will come out and carry out a free inspection and help identify targeted weeds. You then organise for the removal of the weeds. The property is then inspected again by the Land Protection Officer. And if the weeds have been removed, you'll be issued with the free plant voucher. Some of the weed species that the team are targeting include broadleaf pepper, Easter cassia, yellow bells and Brazilian Cherry but there are many more as well. So if you're interested in registering for the program or finding out more, just ring Bundaberg Regional Council on 1300 883 699.
Dana Maggacis 7:21
Thanks Ro. Now, we're hearing a little bit of the story behind Greensill Farming Group from CEO Peter Greensill So, Peter, can you tell me a little bit about the history of Greensill Farming Group.
Peter Greensill 7:32
So myself and my two brothers are privileged enough to be third generation farmers here in Bundaberg. My grandparents bought a small farm on the slopes of the Hummock about in 1945 and went on to grow that to be around about a 200 acre farm in the same area. So they're just buying the adjoining properties which was quite a challenge in those days, pioneering and hand cutting cane and all of and some small crops in a small way, and then my father and my mother went on to sort of grow and build that business and add some more horticulture in and some more innovation and technology and irrigation as new parts of the region were sort of advanced as we built dams in the river and so forth. So as the infrastructure has developed that was probably the middle generation, and then my brothers and I have probably gone on to grow the business horizontally and add more properties into that in a substantial way in order to try and keep pace with the economies of scale required to have the technology we need to be a modern agribusiness.
Dana Maggacis 8:38
And can you tell me a bit about some of the produce that you are currently producing?
Peter Greensill 8:41
At the moment where a substantial sweet potato grower in the Australian industry we're exporting to the wider world from sort of everywhere as far as the UK, you know, through Asia, Middle East, and there that's an exciting space for us where we're very keen to take on that challenge of taking a commodity to the broader market. Well, we're certainly supplying all national states. And we're also a significant sugar grower. We supply sugar to the local mills here in Bundaberg. We're also growing peanuts. And we're looking to grow all of those businesses as the market is developed and as they make sense strategically for what we're doing.
Dana Maggacis 9:24
So you really have a diversity of produce here at Greensill Farming, you mentioned a bit about exporting and international markets. Is there any difficulty being in a regional area like Bundaberg to get that produce out to those markets.
Peter Greensill 9:36
The fortunate thing about Bundaberg is our our location lends itself we're only a few hours from the capital. Yeah, and we're also quite close to the major highway through the Bruce Highway. That gives us quick access like we're supplying overnight into a lot of the major centres and it does position us well with respect to being able to export from those locations, as well as we've got a substantial port here in Bundaberg and a proper commercial airport. So you know, we were quite well set up relative to a lot of other centres.
Dana Maggacis 10:15
Excellent. So you mentioned that sweet potatoes are a big growth opportunity for you at the moment. What is it about the Bundaberg region that makes your sweet potatoes so good and sets them apart from others?
Peter Greensill 10:25
We're very privileged here to be able to grow 52 weeks a year. We can we can dig and supply our markets, which is something that very few other places in the world are able to do. And that's part of partly to do with their beautiful latitude 25 climate that we have here, which gives us quite even and temporate sort of summer/winter climate variation so it makes a great living but also makes for the ability to be able to better control our crops and give us continuity through that and that allows us to maintain the staff that we have for all of those, those roles right through the year which which is fantastic from a workflow perspective, as well as you know, all of the other continuity elements. So it's great. Yeah.
Dana Maggacis 11:09
So you've got a great team and a great product. What does the future look like for Greensills? Are there any exciting things on the horizon?
Peter Greensill 11:15
We're very keen to, to grow our business further and also, you know, continue to add in more innovation and more automation and technology that can allow us to continue to grow and do that sustainably. There's exciting times ahead.
Dana Maggacis 11:30
Excellent. Thanks for joining us, Peter. Now, we've got another great team. The Arts and Cultural Services team have been working with local artists through the Regional Arts Development Fund to showcase their original work right here on the Bundaberg Now podcast. A total of 11 artists will be featured throughout the upcoming weeks, and this week, we'll hear from Pete O'Brien,
Arts Bundaberg Advertisement 11:51
The Moncrief Entertainment Centre, Bundaberg regional galleries and Bundaberg Regional Libraries, and together we're Arts Bundaberg. We love the arts just as much as you do. And whether you're a book lover, an art lover, or a theatre lover, the arts and cultural services of the Bundaberg Regional Council are connecting locals all in one place. To keep up to date with the things you love, jump online to artsbundaberg.com.au
Pete O'Brien 12:23
Hi, this is Pete O'Brien. And this is my new song called 2020. The song 2020 is about all Australians coming together as one in these changing times. Learning the culture of the land and creating new technology for our future.
Robert McLellan 14:10
Art As An Act of Optimism the podcast series brought to you by the Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Bundaberg Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland. Keep listening to the Bundaberg Now podcast to discover more talented artists within our region. To keep up to date with all things arts, jump online to artsbundaberg.com.au.
Dana Maggacis 17:54
And to finish up today, we've got some great book recommendations from our library staff. Over to you Peta.
Peta Browne 18:00
Hi, I'm Peta Browne, Manager of Bundaberg Regional Libraries. Today I'm going to share with you some of my favourite authors and stories and also ask a couple of the library staff what their favourites are. All of our library branches are open now. And with the cold weather having started it's a great time to come in and find a new book, followed by a nice warm spot to sit and read. Naturally for a librarian picking their favourite book or author is a bit like picking their favourite child, however we've done our best. My favourite book is A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. A Swedish writer. Ove is about 60 years of age and is trying to cope with loss. It's both a funny and a moving story as Ove learns to open his heart and accept the friendship of others. His attempt to reconcile the loss of his position as head of the Residents Association in what he describes as a coup d'etat is a highlight. I love Backman's writing and I hope you may enjoy it too. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett is another favourite. In this story the Queen discovers the mobile library outside the palace kitchen and gets caught up in her reading at the expense of her normal duties. It's a nice quick, funny read. I could name so many more favourites, but it's time for other staff to let you know there's. We're joined now by Jill, one of our coordinators of library and technical services. Welcome, Jill. You're going to tell us about a book that you've enjoyed recently. What's the name of the book? And what's it about?
Jill Fulcher 19:24
Hi, Peta. I've recently read When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard. It's a rural fiction set in a South Australian farming community. The family disintegrates with the death of the youngest child. Grace is the oldest child and moves to London and the story revolves around her mother rebuilding family relationships without Grace around. There are so many dynamics in this book that I was completely absorbed with the family. I have recommended this title to others.
Peta Browne 19:50
Thanks, Jill for that recommendation. Next we have Youth Services Librarian Jaala Beachamp, welcome Jaala, you have a genre that's a particular favourite. What is that genre and what do you love about it?
Jaala Beauchamp 20:01
Thanks, Peta. So my favourite genre is urban paranormal. So this sub genre is perfect for the reader who likes to read fantasy or paranormal books, but with a difference. The difference is the setting is often in a real world or urban setting. This sub genre usually involves a city dwelling protagonist who is able to work magic and or is of supernatural heritage. Two authors from this genre that I particularly like are Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews.
Peta Browne 20:29
Thanks Jaala for telling us about the urban paranormal genre. Now we have library assistant Craig, welcome, Craig. What do you enjoy reading?
Craig Spalding 20:38
Hi, Peta. Craig here, my favourits are nonfiction. I don't read any fiction, just nonfiction. I love political biographies. And I also love anything on history.
Peta Browne 20:49
Thank you, Craig, for telling us about what you like to read. So they were some of our favourite stories. Hopefully we've given you a few ideas for picking your next great read. Don't forget the libraries are open. See you soon.
Dana Maggacis 21:02
Thanks for the great recommendations guys. That's all for today. We hope you enjoyed the programme. Join us next week for more news and stories from across the Bundaberg region. Bye for now.