Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

2011 Connecting Country AGM

Posted on 3 October, 2011 by Connecting Country

Ann-Marie Monda and Carla Meurs at the 2011 Connecting Country AGM

Can you farm in a different way? Is farmland degraded land? These are two of the questions Ann-Marie Monda and Carla Meurs from Sutton Grange Organic Farm addressed in their inspiring and informative presentation to Connecting Country’s AGM on 26 September 2011.

Their farm is organically certified and consists of 205 acres of granitic sandy loam. Rainfall is between 400 ml and 1000 ml rainfall a year. They run 75 goats and produce the award winning Holy Goat organic cheese which they sell at Farmers’ Markets and through a distributor who supplies outlets in regional Victoria, Melbourne and  Sydney.

Bushland with Hedge Wattle in foreground.

Twenty-nine percent of the farm is bushland and two percent is infrastructure. The benefits of protecting this extensive bushland include the maintenance of seed banks, the protection of pasture provided by birds, insects and windbreaks and the beauty of this land which they believe benefits the goats and people.


The farmland zone is sixty-nine percent of the total land and supports substantial stands of native grasses which are deep-rooted, perennial and drought tolerant. Kangaroo grass and Wallaby grass are particularly beneficial in providing vital minerals and fibre for the goats. They described their successful efforts in increasing levels of phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, iron and PH levels in the soil. They have also recently trialled an innovative method for controlling Capeweed.

Ann-Marie with some of this year's kids. 21 September 2011

Ann-Marie and Carla concluded their talk by explaining their vision for the farm. They distance themselves from the conventional idea that growth means more goats and producing more cheese which could eventually be exported. Instead they view the growth of their farm in terms of sustainability, quality and generosity for their goats, the land, people and the soil.


Other news from the AGM

1. Connecting Country Coordinator, Chris Timewell, gave a comprehensive report on progress over the last 12 months. The vast majority (90%) of the years annual project targets were achieved, and often significantly exceeded.  Twenty separate on-ground works projects were developed with landholders, and many others are in progress.  Over 400 nest boxes have been installed. 260 of the boxes have been monitored, with many found to support tuans or Sugar Gliders.  Three field days were all booked out, and more than 200 community members attended evening talks on a range of topics.  Planning for another successful year ahead is already well underway.         

2. All members of the Management Committee were re-elected and retained their current roles.  Click here to view a list of members with short biographical details.

3. Jodie Odgers, North Central CMA, updated us with the latest Landcare news and announced the recipients of the Victorian Landcare Grants. Information about these grants will be posted on this website when a complete list is available.

4. Two Connecting Country members, Damian Kelly and Robin Feary, won the random membership renewal prizes. If you are interested in becoming a member of Connecting Country, click on the links below:

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