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THE Hungry Spirit Greening THE Outback Project!

Australia’s First Semi-Arid Demonstration site of Syntropic Agroforestry

By establishing Australia’s first semi-arid demonstration site of Syntropic farming, Greening THE Outback will introduce semi-arid landowners of all sizes (from backyard gardeners to broad acre farmers and graziers) to the regenerative methods of Syntropic Farming, an emerging globally recognised holistic Agroforestry practice, that has created significant environmental, community and food production outcomes around the world. 

Of particular relevance  is the impact these methods have had on large areas of dry, deforested land in very low rainfall areas in South America. When applied at even a relatively small scale (500ha), Syntropic farming has resulted in decreased temperature, improved soil structure and productivity, new profitable (and sustainable) agricultural enterprises and increasing rainfall in the region.

This farming method moves beyond sustainability (status quo) to regeneration, harnessing the laws of nature to provide environmental, community, economic and health outcomes.

The demonstration site will be at THE Hungry Spirit, Lightning Ridge, western NSW, where landholders will be educated, participate in the development of and witness the benefits of these regenerative practices, with a view that they will apply and undertake these new practices on their land and in their agricultural enterprises which will ultimately:

  • Increase awareness and uptake of regenerative farming methods
  • Restore land and mitigate the impact of land clearing
  • Significantly improve soil 
  • Provide best practice management for using currently under utilised semi-arid areas
  • Offer alternative enterprise development for land owners to manage changing climate, fluctuating markets and to reduce dependency on commodity production
  • Increase biodiversity
  • Result in new agricultural businesses and practices

The project seeks to move beyond demonstration and provide pathways to a larger scaled implementation of Syntropic farming in the Lightning Ridge area. If this scale can be achieved we will:

  • Create new food production enterprises
  • Provide employment pathways for local people
  • Improve food security 
  • Improve health outcomes
  • Decrease temperatures in summer
  • Return rain to the regions and water to the landscape
  • Lead to adoption in other areas of Australia

Why is this important?

To work in Syntropy it is to move beyond sustainable and become regenerative, which means the system works together to look after itself. Greening the Outback seeks to share this philosophy and the land management practices of Syntropic farming with as many people as we can, so as to yield environmental, human and systemic outcomes in the semi-arid zones in Australia.

Communities rely on a strong agricultural sector and looking for new ways to regenerate land, adopt new practices and look to different enterprise in semi-arid Australia, will be critical for the ongoing contribution of the agricultural sector to the local community and national economy.

In the Walgett Shire land clearing continues, despite diminishing top soil and erosion from strong winds, increasing summer temperatures, extended droughts and falling productivity, this has to change.

Sometimes the approach needs to be radical (and entirely different to what is usual). This project will challenge paradigms of land owners and managers (at all scales) and provide new insights and possibilities, which is why the Demonstration site is critical, providing practical, hands on approach so landholders can ‘see it to believe it’.

Syntropic farming has evidence of success in similar landscapes and has significant benefits including

  • Large crop yields
  • Steady income across the growing season
  • Diversification of crops and therefore income
  • Minised costs with no fertilizer and minimal mechanisation required
  • Soil quality improves
  • Less reliant on rainfall as the soil improves water retention
  • Improved plant health and resilience towards pest and diseases
  • Increased biodiversity

If we do not implement Greening THE Outback, this opportunity for radical climate change (for the better) will be lost. This project and the outcomes it will yield, must happen, or the viability and future of the semi-arid zones in our country (which make up a significant and currently underutilised land mass), are in serious doubt. We will lose an opportunity to have a different model of farming shared and demonstrated to those who manage the land and who may struggle to otherwise change their ways and learn a new way to work with nature that yields benefits to all.

If just one landowner in the Walgett Shire took up syntropic farming on 500-1000ha, the entire micro-climate could change (as it has in other sites around the world) and if more than one took it up – much greater change would be possible.

What have we done so far?

We currently have three Syntropic Systems underway, one commenced in June 2020, with an intensive 3 days with volunteers under tutelage of Thiago and the second, commenced in September 2020, as part of a workshop with 15 participants, led by Thiago.The third, is a non irrigated ‘test’ site.

System 1

System 1 June 2020

System 1 April 2021

System 2

System 2 September 2021

System 2  April 2021

Workshop happy snaps

Cassava planted in System 1 Sept 2020

Cassava in System 1 April 2021

Interns

From Sept 2020 – April 2021, we welcomed two fantastic Interns, as an experiment. Benny Sauber (Sept-April) and Nicholas Lawson (Jan-April). They contributed enormously to the management and development of the Systems. Benny also implemented a ‘no irrigation’ system on the outer boundary of the property and retrofitted our struggling ‘food forrest’ under the Syntropic methodology.

Nick & Benny in the Syntropified Food Forrest at THE Hungry Spirit March 2021

The no-irrigation syntropic method planted in Summer 2021 by Benny

Watch and learn more about Syntropic Farming around the world

Brazil

New Zealand

How to get involved?

We have applied several times, through the Federal and State governments, for funding and so far, have been unsuccessful.

So we’ve established a Fund (bank account) for people to contribute to – small or medium or large sums of money, one off or on a regular basis, to help us implement the vision!

Click HERE 

OR if you have skills, connections, ideas or suggestions, please let us know – rebel@thehungryspirit.com

There are four primary areas we require capital for this project

1. Education

Provide workshops on Syntropic farming in Lightning Ridge, western NSW. These workshops will cover the principles and mechanics of Syntropic Farming and application in a semi-arid environment. Students will be educated in Syntropic Farming increasing the awareness and knowledge of holistic management and regeneration of landscapes using these methods.

When – As funding is available

Who will attend – Landowners in semi-arid zones, Indigenous land managers, Land management educators, backyard farmers, horticulture, grazing and farm managers, students (TAFE, University and school)

Delivered by – Thiago Gimenez Barbosa

Funding required – $5000

2. Demonstration Site

Establish a small 1ha demonstration site at THE Hungry Spirit Lightning Ridge, a community focused property on the edge of the opal fields that currently has a permaculture garden, a large shed used for events and functions and a commercial kitchen. The establishment phase would include earthworks, planting, a watering system and employment of a Project support officer (6hrs/week) who will be responsible for basic maintenance and developing community and volunteer engagement to ensure the project continues beyond initial funding.

The site will include a variety of fruit and nut trees, native timbers and Indigenous foods and medicine plants, vegetables and ground covers. It will make use of local crushed rock, woodchip and organic compost.

When: May 2020 – May 2022, with ongoing management by landowners, volunteers and through other funding obtained

Who will attend: The Demonstration site will be built using a mix of specialists (irrigation and earthworks) workshop participants and community volunteers. It will be done in a short period of time being led by Syntropic Farming expert Thiago Gimenez Barbosa

Funding required – $20,000/year (salary)  + $10,000/year input costs (including trees, seeds,mulch etc)

3. Community engagement

Through 3 community open days, the 2 proposed workshops and 10 or more other activities over the two years of the project (including pruning, harvesting, preserving, planting etc) A minimum of 600 people will be engaged in the methods, practices and activity of Syntropic farming and be inspired to make changes in their own life and landscapes. Some will become volunteers and support the project long term. 

When: 2021-2022

Who will attend: Landowners and land managers, School students, Indigneous groups, community members, regenerative farming practitioners and consultants, educators. 

Deliver: these activities will be managed by the Project Support Officer, supported by the landowners where the demonstration site is and local volunteers who will be recruited and trained to provide support

Funding required – Nil

4. Scale

Develop a viable project proposal and relevant investment documentation to seek support for a larger scale project that includes broader outcomes including Indigenous employment, tourism, native food production and cultural outcomes.

When: As funding available 

Who: The Indigenous landholders will be engaged from the beginning so they are part of the project at the outset (they have already expressed interest in a long term project and have access to suitable land and a large membership community)

Funding required – $10,000

Contribute to the Greening THE Outback Fund