BOB SHAFFER workshop – The Icing on the compost

IMG_2000Upper Lachlan Landcare played host to another visitor from USA in May. This time compost and cover crop specialist, Bob Shaffer. As we have been on our “Soil Health, Human Health and Community Health” journey over the past 8 months, there is one name that keeps popping up as as “Must have” in our workshop series, Bob Shaffer. Apart from all of the raving from different people and Landcare groups, particularly up North, and  his brief appearance in Symphony of the Soil we had very little to go on and  I  found it hard to ascertain exactly what Bob was going to bring to our soil group. IMG_1964 I was fortunate to have one of our most esteemed Landcarer’s, and driver behind the healthy soils project, John Weatherstone agree to host a 2 day workshop with Bob at Lyndfield Park at the end of May. I picked up a very tired Bob Shaffer from the Canberra Airport on the evening before the workshop. He had been on a whirlwind trip covering almost all corners of Australia organised by Soil Care Inc. We were the second last stop on his very tightly packed trip. Despite his fatigue and disorientation, I realised immediately why we needed to have a workshop with Bob Shaffer. Bob, like his fellow Americans,  is a great communicator, however at the same time he is very down to earth, he  puts everyone at ease,  and has the unique ability to uncomplicate everything, (particuarly compost). IMG_1989 (1024x683) We had two full days of workshop covering topics: Transitioning to economical, simple sustainable farming practices;  Ground covers and cover crops; and everything to do with compost. It was great to have the workshop at Lyndfield Park where John has been practicing sustainable land management for many years. IMG_1972 (1024x683) John, as part of our soil health project, had recently taken a soil test from one paddock which we went to take a look at and discuss the results in the field. We were even more fortunate when he discovered a soil test he had taken from the same paddock 8 years earlier which reaffirmed all of the discussion that Bob and John had regarding the soil test results and the management decisions that had been made over the past years. IMG_1965IMG_1978 (1024x683) Some members of the Upper Lachlan Soil group were unable to attend the 2 day workshop so we had a group dinner with Bob at the Grabben Gullen Pub. Poor Bob was so tired but still managed to have some worthwhile discussions with the soil group over dinner before we sent him off on the last leg of his trip to Holbrook. photo So a very big thank you to Soil Care Inc for the recommendation of Bob Shaffer and for organizing his travel arrangements and for all of the other assistance. The feedback from the workshop participants was very positive  with some of the most advanced soil groupies (Ray Shiels, Margie, and John) saying that it was one of the best and worthwhile workshops that they had attended. Next time an opportunity arises to host a Bob Shaffer Workshop we will most certainly take it up readily. IMG_2013 This workshop was made possible with funding through the Australian Government Caring for Our Country program as part of a community Landcare project “Healthy Soils, Healthy People, Healthy Communities”. As part of this project we have more exciting workshops and events coming up this month with David  Hardwick and the RASH (rapid assessment of soil health) cards that we will be developing for the Landcare groups starting with Roslyn on 29th July, Biala/Blakney Creek Landcare on 30th July and Grabben Gullen on 31st July. Flyer for this will be available soon.

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