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This webinar was held on the 18 August 2021 with Dr Lou Baskind from South East Local Land Services and Dan Head from Value Life Farm.
You can watch the recording here.
Below is a summary of the key points from the webinar and a list of resources for more information.
Water and nutrition- Pigs require access to high quality water and feed. They are monogastric animals like humans. In order of priority, pigs need fresh water, energy, protein, macro nutrients and other micro nutrients.
The pig’s diet will influence the growth rate and quality of pork you produce. Pasture alone is not adequate to meet the nutritional needs of pigs and supplementary feeding is essential. Dan uses a sustainably sourced pig feed in bulka bags from Heritage Feeds. The amount of feed a pig requires will depend on the age and stage of development. Dan gave an example of a feeding regime that he uses - piglets are fed ad lib until they are five months old and then 2kg/head/day except for lactating sows then the rate increases to 7 kg/day.
Pigs are curious animals and can damage water troughs, a closed off inlet valve can be useful for preventing damage to troughs or you can use water nipples.
Swill Feeding is illegal in Australia.
Swill feeding is the traditional name for the feeding of food scraps to pigs. Prohibited pig feed (‘swill’) includes meat (raw, cooked or processed), bone, blood, offal or hide derived from a mammal and anything that has come into contact with these materials (NSW DPI).
Pigs are considered high risk for the introduction of exotic diseases in to Australia and swill feeding is considered to be the most likely pathway of disease introduction.
Penning and housing- Wallowing is an important natural behaviour of pigs. Pigs cannot sweat so wallowing allows them to moderate their body temperature. Pigs can be kept on a deep litter system, where the manure and urine are composted down with wood chips. Dan uses electric fencing for his pigs, he trains them using feed and uses boards to move them in yards if required. This method of handling is referred to as low stress livestock handling and will improve meat quality (see refences below). Shelter is also important for pigs, especially for furrowing sows and piglets, and during the summer months to protect them from sunburn and heat stress.
Pigs can be raised outdoors and used for removing weeds, cultivation and rotational grazing. They can be raised successfully using organic and regenerative agriculture principles. Dan sought inspiration from Joel Salatin, Justin Rhodes and has his own YouTube Channel. For more information visit the Value Life Farm website.
Piglet castration – male piglets must be castrated using a knife not rings like the ones used for lambs. Seek advice from your vet or an experienced pig farmer.
Councils have rules about owning pigs – check with your local council before buying them.
Property Identification and moving pigs - all owners of pigs require a property identification code (PIC). Look at this handy guide from the NSW Department of Primary Industries for more information.
Moving Pigs Eight Step Guide
Pig husbandry and housing
Pig nutrition Basics - DAF QLD
Deep litter housing for pigs
Responsible pig ownership - NSW DPI
Eight must dos for pig ownership - NSW DPI
Pig biosecurity management resources
Local Government rules
Local Government (General) Regulation 2005
Part 5 Standards for Keeping Birds or Animal, Keeping of Swine clauses 17 and 18.
Palerang Local Government Planning rules for keeping pigs
Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council Duty Planner 1300 735 025.
Low stress handling research
Grandin T., (2020) “Livestock Handling at the Abattoir: Effects on Welfare and Meat Quality”, Meat and Muscle Biology 4(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.22175/mmb.9457
Grandin T., (2019) Understanding Flight Zone and Point of Balance for Low Stress Handling of Cattle, Sheep, and Pigs.
Pig Agskills Book - Tocal Collage NSW
This webinar was made possible with funding from the NSW Environmental Trust through Every Bit Counts Project and with in-kind support from South East Local Land Services District Veterinarian Dr Lou Baskind and Dan Head from Value Life Farm.
The Small Farms Network Capital Region was a Land for Wildlife Provider from June 2017 to April 2021. During that time we facilitated the assessment of 64 properties in the Palerang District. Our intrepid Land for Wildlife assessors were Kris Nash and Jo Walker who bought years of experience along with encyclopaedic knowledge of plants and natural resource management (NRM) to the program. They used this experience to provide landholders with advice and education about the plants and animals on their properties.
The Land for Wildlife Program is a free, non-binding program for landholders. Under the program, property owners receive a free visit from a NRM specialist and a report about the plants and animals living on their property.
Jo and Kris reflect below on their experience being Land for Wildlife assessors for the Small Farms Network Capital Region and the former Palerang Action Network for Sustainability.
Most people are surprised to learn the diversity they have on their farm
It was fascinating to discover the variety of landscapes existing in the area we covered, ranging from tall forests to grassy open expanses and including rocky outcrops of shale or granite, creeks, gullies and dams. Identifying plants involved peering into the high branches of eucalypts, crawling through shrubbery and kneeling to get a close look at Sundews and other tiny plants.
Sometimes we came across threatened ecological communities (grassy box woodland, grasslands) and uncommon or threatened plant species but otherwise we encountered everything from dense to open forest, patches with an intact and diverse native understorey, to low diversity paddocks with a few remnant eucalypts.
There were a few surprises too. I think the most memorable was an understorey of purple-flowering Comesperma ericinum (Heath Milkwort) in an area of dry forest in Wamboin. This species is not common in this area and usually occurs as an individual plant or in small groups.
The average number of plants per property was 60 species (112 from one property), with 316 different native plants recorded across the assessment area. Many more species would have been recorded had it been possible to visit everyone during spring, but most property owners were pleasantly surprised at the number of native plants on their block. All properties had at least 0.5 ha of native vegetation, most had far more.
Weeds, wildlife habitat and wombats
The most common issue discussed was the identification and control of weeds including woody weeds, sifton bush, pine trees, various noxious grasses, pesky annuals and garden escapees. Other issues included erosion control, the enhancement of dams, protecting native seed stock from grazing animals, rehabilitation, salinity control and feral animal management.
We encountered goannas, baby kangaroos and wombats, threatened birds and frogs, scats, scratchings, nests and diggings of many animals, and sadly a bunch of sugar glider tails.
So how can we improve our land?
Our main advice to property owners was to weed, weed, weed and more weeding. We know this is easier said than done but removing pressure from weedy plants will provide more room for native grassland and bush to recover. Other common advice included keeping as much exposed or disturbed soil covered as possible, 80% at least, through mulching, laying heavy logs, branches and/or rocks. Planting additional plants is not usually necessary when the understorey is diverse and there is regeneration of overstory species. That ‘mess’ is great for biodiversity and should be valued. The other major goal should be to retain and protect remnant trees for their all-important hollows for nesting birds and animals.
Great people and a few eccentrics too
It was also interesting to talk to the people who had invited us onto their land for the assessments. They were as diverse as the plants, but all had a deep desire to do something for the environment and the local wildlife. Several of them were wildlife rescuers and carers. The pig purchased as a ‘mini’ but now grown to an enormous stature deserves a mention, as does the lengths people have gone to, to provide homes and habitat for the animals sharing their properties. They were all very keen to know what plants were on their land and their relationship with the local wildlife, and were sometimes amazed by the number of native plants on the lists. To help them understand which plants were listed, we provided them with some information and a follow up email.
Altogether, it was a rewarding experience for us to be able to provide enthusiastic landholders with more knowledge of their farm. It was a privilege to be part of the Land for Wildlife program and humbling to meet such dedicated and caring people. It was a personal highlight to assist landholders discover just how diverse and valuable for wildlife their individual properties were.
Individual land holders and the broader community has benefited from Jo and Kris’s expertise and enthusiasm for helping others to learn about the natural environment. Vicki, one of the landholders, had this to say about the assessment done by Jo and Kris.
‘I found the whole Land for Wildlife experience very positive and learnt a lot about the plants growing here. It was great to know we had such diversity on our farm. The visit from Jo and Kris helped us appreciate the value of the habitat that we have on our farm. Rather than thinking we have a paddock of rocky outcrops we now see a paddock with great habitat potential. Being given a list of species was the icing on the cake. The assessment has encouraged me to focus more on weed removal instead of re-vegetation. Over-all our visit from Jo and Kris was a very enlightening and positive experience from extremely knowledgeable and committed people.’
Thanks for the funding and support
The Small Farms Network Land for Wildlife Program would not have been possible without the support of the Geary’s Gap/Wamboin Landcare Group., National Landcare Program and John Asquith from the Community Environment Centre.
Here is a message from Geary’s Gap Landcare.
Gearys Gap/Wamboin Landcare Group has been very pleased to have been able to support LfW in this region over the past decade. The activities of Landcare and Land for Wildlife are complementary and each makes a valuable contribution to the natural environment of this region. The excellent collaborative work of the two organisations has been exemplary.
Thanks to Jo and Kris for a wonderful contribution and to all our supporters.
For more information on the Land for Wildlife program please contact the Community Environment Centre.
Chris Curtis from Roogulli Farm presented at this webinar on the 21 July 2021. Wicking beds are plant containers with a water reservoir in the bottom of the container, water wicks up through the potting medium through capillary action. At this webinar Chris discussed his research into several growing mediums and the water holding capacity of different reservoir materials in wicking beds.
You can view a recording of the webinar on YouTube here.
A copy of the abstract from Chris’s research can be downloaded here and you can read the full dissertation on his website.
These are the main points from the webinar:
You can download a copy of Chris’s PowerPoint presentation here.
Thank you to Chris for volunteering his time to present this webinar.
The Small Farms Network Capital Region received funding from the NSW Government Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Increasing Resilience to Climate Change community grants program.
More information about the community grants can be found here.
On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 April 2021 we met Den Barber from Yarrabin Cultural Connections and a team of cultural burning practitioners at Birkenburn Farm near Bungendore to learn about Aboriginal cultural burning.
The workshop began with an Acknowledgement of Country and Smoking Ceremony. The smoking ceremony involves smouldering gum leaves to produce smoke, which provides a spiritual cleansing and protection for all workshop participants.
For Aboriginal people, cultural burning is an ancient traditional practice used for thousands of years throughout the many different Cultural Lands of Australia. The process is complex with many interconnected objectives including protecting cultural assets by maintaining the health of surrounding country, protecting ceremonial sites, habitat enhancement and fuel reduction. Fuel reduction is often not the primary objective. Cultural burning uses frequent, low intensity fires that do not adversely impact parent trees or the forest canopy. Parent trees are considered sacred by Aboriginal people.
You don’t manage your mother you look after her
Den Barber told us about the Aboriginal belief of caring for Mother Earth. Before starting the fire, we prepared the burn site (under the direction of our guides) by raking back excessive bushfire fuel loads of bark, leaves and sticks from the base of the trees. It was necessary to create containment lines in this ‘Country’ that has not seen any fire for more than 50 years by raking debris to create bare tracks. Den showed us a ‘parent tree’ which had a hollow in it, we could see signs that the hollow was in use because there were scratch marks and frass at the base of the tree.
Cultural burns help protect native animal habitat by reducing fuel loads and the intensity of fires. The low intensity of a cultural burn allows animals, insects and reptiles to move away from the fire. By protecting the forest canopy the ecosystem is preserved, unlike bushfires where whole ecosystems can be lost in one fire event.
The right fire at the right time
Cultural burning is not about saving money or meeting hazard reduction burn targets. It is about putting the right type of fire, at the right time into the right landscape. This takes time, patience and guidance from an Aboriginal practitioner. Aboriginal people have a relationship with fire and the Mother Earth, they are the traditional custodians of fire in the Australian Landscape.
Let go of time… and be patient
Den taught us the right way to start a fire by establishing a single ignition point in the middle of the burn site, so that the fire will move out in a circular fashion from that point. Using a series of fires like this produces a mosaic burn effect in the landscape. The fire is low and slow and aims to predominantly leave only a black ash layer behind. Some patches and even individual plants will not be burnt.
A cultural burn will only be conducted during suitable weather conditions including the right amount of wind, temperature, humidity as well as the appropriate season.
Look for signs that a burn is needed, this could involve asking yourself questions. What are the fuel loads like in the forest? Are the trees or shrubs fruiting? How much dead grass is in the tussocks? Is one plant type dominating?
Burning in grassland is like mowing the lawn
Slow cool burning protects the roots of the grasses and shrubs so they can regenerate when it rains. Den suggests that grassland is ready to burn when 50% of the tussock is dead grass.
One of our guides shared his experience of using cultural burning to manage Serrated Tussock. Burning tussock at the right time of the year can reduce seed heads and create space for other plants to establish. Burning over several years is required and can be used as part of an integrated weed management plan.
Knowledge is only powerful when shared
Towards the end of the workshop, we asked how non-Aboriginal people could apply the knowledge learnt at the workshop? What should we call a burn if we want to conduct one? Den’s answer ‘if you have received Cultural Knowledge, you should acknowledge that it is a Traditional Aboriginal Cultural Practice. It is good to share and practice cultural burning regardless of your heritage.’
The generous way in which Den and the Yarrabin Fire Crew shared their traditional knowledge was appreciated by everyone attending the workshop.
Rural Fire Service perspective
A Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate may be required to perform any type of burning on privately owned land and a Fire Permit from the Rural Fire Service (RFS) is required during the bushfire period. You need to comply with the conditions of the certificate or permit including safety requirements and notifying your neighbours. Notification of intention to burn is a relatively simple process that can be done online. Please contact the RFS for more information.
Yarrabin Cultural Connections Pty Ltd
Steffensen, V (2020). Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia. Richmond, Hardie Grant Explore, Australia.
Australian Story documentary featuring Victor Steffensen
CSIRO publishing ‘How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia’
NSW Rural Fire Service
Notification of intention to burn
Nature Conservancy Research into the effects on cultural burning on climate change
Burning as a control method for Serrated Tussock
This event was funded by the NSW Government through an Increasing Resilience to Climate Change (IRCC) Community Grant.
This workshop was held in Bywong in July 2021 and was about constructing animal yards that are suitable for keeping farm animal safe and predators out. Our guest speaker was Chris Curtis from Roogulli Farm.
You can watch Chris talk about predator proofing animal yards in a short video here.
Chris provided the following resources for this workshop, click on the link below to open them:
Predator proofing animal enclosures PowerPoint presentation
Bibliography – a list of research papers on this topic
Chris has designed a simple box addition to his chicken coop that allows chickens to enter the coop but excludes foxes. The bends in the entry way are designed so that the fox cannot bend around the tight corners.
Lamb predation and fox control in south-eastern Australia 2001
Fencing for fox control. Factsheet, Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, 2012. PestSmart website.
Cost effective feral animal exclusion fencing for areas of high conservation value in Australia, Natural Heritage Trust 2004.
Alpacas as guardian animals
Guardian Dogs – Best Practice Guide to the use of Maremma dogs as guardian dogs, Invasive Animal Cooperative Research Centre
Toolkit resource - guardian animals for livestock protection and wild dog exclusion
This project was supported by the NSW Government through a grant from South East Local Land Services.
Watch the webinar recording in YouTube.
A National Guide for Smallholder Livestock Producers
(Meat and Livestock Australia)
This guide, providing an overview of your responsibilities when keeping livestock including pet sheep in Australia, is a good place to start.
Farm Biosecurity toolkit
(Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia)
Forms, biosecurity manual and other resources for creating your biosecurity plan
A Producer’s Guide to Sheep Husbandry Practices
(Meat and Livestock Australia)
Guidance for many standard sheep handling and treatment practices including yards, tagging, injections, worm egg counts, drenching, foot trimming, lamb marking and humane killing.
Sheep Calendar of Operations
(NSW Local Land Services)
What to do when for sheep on the NSW South Coast regionhttps://www.lls.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1280923/Final-Version-SELLS_Sheep_Calendar.pdf
General information about biosecurity, health and welfare for sheep (Animal Health Australia)
National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)
Register here to be able to record sheep movements on and off your property (this is free)
Meat and Livestock Australia (MyMLA)
Register with MyMLA as the first step to gaining LPA accreditation so you can sell sheep (even pet sheep) and write NVDs
Animal Carcass Disposal (NSW DPI)
Safe handling and disposal of carcasses.
Yards and Equipment (NSW DPI)
Series of fact sheets about design of yards, sheep handlers, ramps and shearing sheds.
Straying Stock (NSW DPI)
What to do if stock stray onto your property
Vaccination in Sheep Flocks (Meat and Livestock Australia)
Guide to how vaccinations work and the vaccines available for sheep.
See also Vaccinations for Sheep in the Capital Region
This event held on the 22 May 2021 was a combined webinar and paddock demonstration with Alice McGlashan. Alice is a natural resource management practitioner and environmental educator who lives on a rural bush property near Canberra. At this event she shared her knowledge about feral predator management using different trapping methods.
The webinar recording can be viewed here.
Alice recorded a 15-minute video demonstrating the use of padded jaw traps, you can view the video here.
This is a summary of the main points from the webinar and paddock walk, a list of resources can be found at the bottom of this page.
South East Local Land Services Feral Fighters Program - Feral Fighters is an initiative to strategically target pest animals at a regional and state scale through strategic, coordinated group baiting control programs.
Members Camera loan program - Small Farms Network Capital Region Members can borrow a wildlife monitoring camera to use for feral animal monitoring.
Trapping Equipment- There are many suppliers of trapping equipment. Alice uses Victor #1 1/2 and #1 3/4 2 coil traps from traps.com.au and gettrapped.com.au. You are encouraged to do your own research for suitable suppliers.
Pest Smart Website https://pestsmart.org.au/pest-animals/
Trapping of foxes using padded-jaw traps (fox005) standard operating procedure.
General methods of euthanasia under field conditions
This project was supported by South East Local Land Services.
This workshop was held in Tarago on Sunday 2 May 2021. Our presenters were Ross Kuchel, Agricultural Adviser from South East Local Land Services, Peter and Penny Dagg from Eastern and White Dorpers, Fiona McNeil from Bent Shed Produce and Stephanie Helm from The Vintner’s Daughter.
The topics covered included farm planning, water resources, managing risk, farm business resources, business planning, biosecurity, moving livestock and taking care of your natural assets.
Plan, plan and plan was Ross’s clear message. Knowing your personal values and goals can help you develop the priorities for your land and farm business. Understanding your legal obligations when it comes to managing water, weeds, vegetation and livestock is important. More information about how to do this can be found in the Rural Living Guide and by contacting your nearest Local Land Services Office.
Penny Dagg discussed starting out with livestock, managing a sheep stud, biosecurity and animal health. Penny told us how difficult and expensive it was to buy water and feed during the drought. Penny’s advice is to plan for the extremes and prepare to de-stock if necessary. Importing feed from outside the region can increase the biosecurity risk of getting new weeds that don’t normally grow at your place. Penny’s top tip: don’t be afraid to ask for advice, everyone starting out on the land needs help and support.
Stephanie Helm shared her family’s experience running a small winery and cellar door during COVID-19 and how the crisis led to a decision to start online marketing and to diversify into other farm enterprises to manage risk. Stephanie showed us how it is possible to integrate animals into a horticultural business and reduce chemical use at the same time. Stephanie’s top tips are take the time to create a business plan, develop your business skills and learn how to use social media.
Fiona McNeil’s key point was don’t forget to pay yourself a living wage. For unskilled labour this is a minimum of $25/hour and for skilled labour aim for around $50/hour. The Australian Taxation Office website can help you work out labour, car and other business expenses. Fiona discussed the challenge of working full time while juggling a business and how health can change your priorities. Her top tips are to contact the Business Enterprise Centre for support and look out for changes to council zoning that could affect your chosen enterprise.
Farm Planning Ideas - Local Land Services
Sustainable Farms - Ten Ways to Improve the Natural Assets a farm
National Livestock Identification Scheme
Order of Streams NSW Water
Business Enterprise Centre Queanbeyan
Business Planning Templates
Native Vegetation Planning
Thank you to our presenters and the Country Women’s Association Tarago Branch for supplying delicious food for this event.
This workshop was made possible with funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program and in-kind support from South East Local Land Services.
Do you have an alpaca or two? Would you like more information on how to care for them? Perhaps you inherited a few when you purchased your small farm. This webinar with Dr Lou Baskind is about the basic care and management of alpacas and was recorded on the 3 March 2021.
You can view the YouTube recording of the webinar here.
1. Alpacas have a digestive system similar but not the same as other ruminants such as cattle. Alpacas have three stomachs and they chew their cud. Alpacas are more efficient at digesting low quality feed than other ruminants and have a lower risk of bloat compared to cattle. BUT that does not mean that you don’t have to watch what they eat. Alpacas have a requirement for long stemmed grass at all times for their gut to work efficiently. Pregnant and lactating females (called hembras) have a higher requirement for energy and protein. If there is a lot of green grass you might want to consider supplementing them with low quality feed for fibre.
Body condition scoring of alpacas
2. Alpacas must have a at least one companion otherwise they will fret. Alpacas have very strong herding instincts and need the companionship of other alpacas to thrive, it is best to provide each alpaca with a companion alpaca of the same gender.
3. Alpacas have a strong instinct to bond with other grazing herd animals and this has resulted in the growing use of wethered adult male alpacas or adult females as sheep and goat flock guardians. They have a strong instinct to fend off dogs and foxes to protect their flock.
4. Vitamin D deficiency – because alpacas come from high altitudes, even in Australia they can suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Crias (baby alpacas up to the age of 3) are most at risk of the disease. Prevention is the easiest treatment; you can do this by shearing the alpacas and by giving them a vitamin D injection every year. A deficiency in vitamin D can cause problems with calcium absorption.
5. Alpacas are susceptible to worms and liver fluke. These parasites are best controlled by integrated worm management, with consideration given to regular worm testing, creating worm free paddocks and targeted use of drenches.
Worms and alpacas
CRIA Genesis Website - A comprehensive website about alpacas.
Low stress animal handling
Tocal College Alpaca Ag Skills
Australian Alpaca Association
This webinar was made possible through funding from the NSW Environmental Trust through it’s Every Bit Counts Project and with in-kind support from South East Local Land Services Vet Dr Lou Baskind.
At this webinar Bill Handke from the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group Inc. discussed why a feral bird, the Indian Myna, is a problem and what actions you can take at home to manage them.
The webinar was recorded on the 17 March 2021 and you can view the recording here.
A copy of Bill’s PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here.
This is a summary of the five key points from the webinar:
1. Indian Mynas are native to the Indian subcontinent and are highly invasive, adaptive and intelligent. The birds were introduced into Melbourne in 1862 to control pests in market gardens and have subsequently spread along the eastern Australian seaboard. They are classed as one of the top 100 invasive species worldwide and are implicated in species decline and extinction because they prey on native animals and birds and compete with them for food and nesting sites. In Canberra, the impact of Indian Mynas on native birds has been studied by ANU researchers who identified they have a severe impact on birds such as rosellas, wrens, Willy Wagtails, Silvereyes and Whistlers.
2. Indian Mynas were introduced into Canberra in 1968 and have been recorded in densities of up to 250 birds/km2. Indian Mynas are a major threat to native wildlife because they:
3. Indian Mynas pose a human health risk because they carry bird mites and blood-borne parasites that can be transmitted to humans. They can increase the fire risk in rooves by creating nests in roof cavities. They are also a pest for agricultural, viticultural and horticultural industries. A major concern to the public is the loss of social amenity because of Mynas fouling backyards and BBQ areas, their raucous calls and their displacement of native birds.
4. The experience in Canberra indicates that trapping is highly successful and is the best method for controlling and removing the birds. Indian Myna bird trap designs can be found below. The disposal of animals once they have been trapped has been approved by the RSPCA. Training and support from the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group is provided for people interested in trapping Mynas in their backyards.
5. You can also help at home by reducing feeding opportunities, eliminating nesting sites in roofs and reducing roosting sites. Avoid planting trees with dense foliage, such as pencil pines, in which Mynas will roost at night.
Useful links and information:
Canberra Indian Myna Action Group
A website dedicated to help people manage and control Indian Mynas.
Indian Myna Information Sheet
Indian Myna Trap Plan
Indian Myna - the flying cane toad
Trapping Help Sheet and Protocol on Animal Welfare
MynaScan is a resource developed to help community members, pest controllers and biosecurity groups to map sightings and the damage that Myna birds cause, and coordinate control efforts with local community groups. MynaScan is free, easy to use, and can help you develop a detailed map of Myna bird activity in your local area. You can also upload images for accurate record keeping.
This webinar was made possible with funding from the NSW Environmental Trust through Every Bit Counts Project. Thank you to Bill Handke and the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group for their support of this webinar.
Small Farms Network Capital Region IncPO Box 313BungendoreNSW 2621