Country Noosa: Promoting a sustainable rural future
We promote sustainable agriculture, horticulture and other rural enterprises in the Noosa Hinterland through field days, workshops, and social events to support and strengthen community cohesion. As well, our website connects interested people, allows them to interact through a knowledge base and a marketplace, and links them to the latest in rural news.
When most people think of the Noosa region, they likely think of iconic Noosa Heads and the adjacent holiday spots of the coast. Apart from a walk in Noosa National Park or a hinterland drive to Eumundi Markets, the countryside is just a pleasant backdrop.
But by far the largest part of Noosa Shire is rural, and contains a wide range of farming and other enterprises ranging from large to small, and from fully commercial to part time. This picturesque landscape has been largely formed by the hard work of Noosa residents who love their country lifestyle and who maintain their properties.
While most farming in the area may be described as ‘lifestyle’, that label should not indicate just amateur or hobby enterprises. A growing number of people are choosing to live in Country Noosa and acreage of any real size requires the maintenance or establishment of agricultural activities of some type to maintain the integrity of the landscape, to keep the land from reverting to weeds, or to provide some income for the landowner. This can be achieved by either direct management or share farming schemes such as cropping, horticulture, and stock agistment.
As well, landowners are undertaking significant environmental restoration works to ensure they achieve an ecological balance between their farming activities and the natural ecosystems on their property. They are, in effect, rural conservationists with a huge role to play in the coming era of food scarcity, bio-security, species extinction, land restoration, and the desire to purchase locally.
The economic picture
The contribution of these activities to the local economy through such routes as purchases, employment, contracted and professional services, produce, farm supplies, etc is a major reason why the regional centre of Cooroy and its satellite villages are prospering. In fact, the rise of hinterland ‘lifestyle’ and ’new’ agricultural activities, combined with people choosing the ambience, beauty, and quietude of the hinterland as an ideal place to live, has revitalised the local economy long suffering from a decline in traditional agriculture such as small crops and dairying, timber processing, and unmanaged grazing.
Since state agriculture field officer resources have been cut back in favour of providing advice via the internet, the personal contact between farmers and the visits to see landholdings have been minimised. Various groups such as Noosa and District Landcare, the Mary River Catchment Co-ordination Committee or the Noosa Integrated Catchment Association provide some points of contact, but usually through environmental projects and information.
It is time to address the lack of information available for local sustainable farming activities and, at the same time, rebuild the contacts and community spirit that once existed between all types of farmers, the local business community, and rural residents generally. With our council back in place, there is a real opportunity to stimulate discussion, share experiences, provide services, and encourage direct co-operation.
Privacy will be maintained during all stages of the consultation process.
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