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Q & A with Endeavour River Productivity Network Facilitator Trevor Meldrum

Facilitator: Trevor Meldrum

Established: November 2019

Members: 14

Footprint: Endeavour Catchment

Tell me about yourself?

My name is Trevor Meldrum and I facilitate the Endeavour River Productivity Network - a Peer to Peer group for producers and graziers from Cooktown and surrounds. I also run Cooktown Weeds and Feral Animals Inc, an organisation dedicated to the management of pest animals and weed species on Cape York. I am a born and bred Cooktown local and am committed to looking after Cape York, a very special piece of Queensland.

What has the group been doing recently?

All the members reviewed their Property Pest Management Plans which gave them a better understanding of how to manage pest species on their properties.

We held a very successful Weeds and Soils Solutions Field Day at Rivernook Farm in February. Members heard from weed and soil management specialists. Agronomist David Hall presented at the February Field Day and spent a few days after the event working one on one with nine mixed farming businesses from the Endeavour Catchment.  David helped take soil samples from each of the properties and will now consult with each business regarding their specific soil and plant health needs

We have also established Focus Farm - we now have one Focus Farm in the Normanby and one in the Endeavour Catchment. We are conducting land management trials on them and they are progressing well. We have recently engaged Holistic Grazing Management Practitioner Dick Richardson to help design the next phase of healing gullies through specialised grazing practices.

Our partners South Cape York Catchments are also busy documenting Normanby Aboriginal Corporation’s work and will produce a video portfolio of their efforts to share with group.

I have also been spending one on one time with members to find out more about their farming needs.

What has been the best thing about establishing and facilitating the group?

Having the resources to be able to help producers in a real way. Many of the producers involved in this project have met for the first time and the on-going support they are receiving has seen many of them improve on their management practice. Now that most of the group have met and undergone training together they feel more comfortable asking advice from their peers. Some of the local innovations such as weed management apparatus and land remediation techniques are receiving wider coverage through the development of producer - led learning groups.  

These groups are not just about land management, they also enable landholders to socialise and get off the farm for a bit. Tell me about the social and mental health benefits of belonging to this kind of group.

Farmers and graziers are pretty busy people - they work alone and often live a long way from their closest town. Getting together as part of this group has meant people get to know their peers, can talk about challenges with people who understand what they are talking about, and build a bit of a community around themselves. All this is great in terms of their business but it also means they have a network of support when times get tough - an inevitability when working on the land.

Just knowing they are not alone in their challenges is a great thing for moral and the support they are offering to each other in these tough times is just incredible! Building a formal network in the catchment is helping producers with all aspects of their everyday challenges.

Can you think of someone who has really benefited from the group?   

Every one of the people who turned up for the field day at Rivernook has indicated that they got real benefits and want more. Rivernook are developing new strategies to improve production and reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides, Valley View (the Normanby Focus Farm) are going well with their land remediation and are sharing techniques and learnings with less experienced farmers in the network. There are so many benefits to this project – too numerous to list!

Where can people find out more?

Please call me on 0400 368 834.

This initiative is funded by the Queensland Government Reef Water Quality Program and delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries with partner organisations Cape York NRM, Terrain NRM, and Cape York Weeds and Ferals Inc.