Charles was invited to present to staff by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan after she had read his book ‘Call of the Reed Warbler’.
In his book, Charles discusses the practicality and the reality of regenerative agriculture – farming which uses principals that focus on long term (100 plus years) timeframes and improves the resources we have.
Regenerative agriculture is holistic, considering ecology, people and economy, and focuses on abundance and resilience and on developing the biology and fertility of soils as the basis of the system.
Techniques generally focus on integrated management of soil, water, vegetation and biodiversity and becoming more efficient in the use of natural resources.
During his presentation, Charles said his perspective was from that of a farmer who had made a lot of mistakes - and after researching and studying science as well as what other farmers were doing he realised he had to change.
“I came to realise I was landscape illiterate - I couldn’t read the landscape and I didn’t know how it functioned - I had never been taught,” Charles said.
Charles studied traditional soil science, which lead to other things and eventually his book, which presents stories from producers who have gone through the experience of changing from traditional farming practices to regenerative.
“Our challenge is to go beyond sustainability to a new way of thinking,” he said.
“My job is to get out of the way and let mother nature get on with it - and what they were really saying was my job is to let self-organising processes take hold and do their stuff.
“It just made so much sense - a new world view.
“My message really is - healthy landscapes lead to healthy food, and therefore healthy people and a healthy planet,” he said.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Agriculture Day also included a speech by Newdegate farmer Nick Kelly who was ‘transitioning into regenerative agriculture’, and a bus trip to Gingin to visit Tom and Emma Mitchell’s property Worrolong Produce to understand the rationale, experience and findings of growing pumpkins and citrus under a regenerative farming system.
This was followed by a talk from Gingin cattle producer David Roe, Benalong Farm, and on-farm walk to review the family’s cattle production grazing systems.