A farmer-led programme to provide more support to Southland’s growing catchment group network is gearing up and is keen to hear ideas, Thriving Southland Chairman Ewen Mathieson says.
Thriving Southland is a farmer-led programme to drive change in the primary sector in Southland by supporting catchment groups and wider communities as agents of change.
Ten ‘Post-Covid-19 Lockdown’ get-togethers are being held in late June and throughout July around the region for people to hear more about the programme and share ideas.
“One of the key things we’re mindful of is that this is not just about farming – it speaks to everyone living in the Southland region – and a sense of reconnecting as a community,” Mathieson said.
The project is funded through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Extension Services’ and Sustainable Land Use package as a farmer-led extension project.
Since 2016, Southland farmers have built a region-wide catchment group model consisting of more than 20 groups, with new groups continuing to form.
Mathieson said the global, national and local circumstances people found themselves in had changed markedly since Thriving Southland was officially launched by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in December.
“While we all recognise the damaging impact Covid-19 has had across many communities and industries, it has reasserted the importance of farming and food production,” Mathieson said.
The Government has stated that primary producers’ innovation and collective effort will form an important part of the economic recovery from Covid-19, he said.
“Our food production story is going to be more important than ever.”
Thriving Southland’s goal was to support primary producers to continue doing what they do best – producing world-class food and fibre sustainably, Mathieson said.
The programme will support catchment groups in farmer and rural community wellness initiatives, and support the groups to lead discussion and action around farm system and water quality improvements, where necessary in Southland.
Mathieson said Thriving Southland would provide continuity, and build on the achievements to date, working alongside Primary Industry Stakeholders, NGOs and Local Government.
Last year, Thriving Southland held initial information gathering workshops around Southland with catchment groups. In February, they were at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu, and also briefed the Southland Catchment Group Forum on progress.
They were continuing to gather ideas and feedback to inform the project work plan and were establishing a team to support people in the field, he said.
Details about the upcoming events are available on the Southland Catchment Groups Facebook page.
For more information please contact:
Thriving Southland Project Lead Richard Kyte
027 298 7786
Thriving Southland Chairman Ewen Mathieson
027 293 0479