Activity on a roll
A huge thanks to everyone who read our first newsletter last month - we were delighted with the number of people who took some time to find out what’s been happening. Over 61.5% of you opened the newsletter (normal open rates are 15-25%) and then we saw a fantastic upswing in the number of people going to our website and following us on social media.
The Thriving Southland Facebook page hit over 100 likes in the last a couple of weeks, and we would love you to keep spreading the word to anyone else who might be interested.
So, a few other exciting things have been taking place. The team got together at the beginning of August to put in place the strategy for how we’re going to support you – and the funding available to help you with projects and science. If you’ve got some great project ideas in your catchment then please reach out to your Thriving Southland coordinator.
We’ve also almost finished a stocktake with a variety of stakeholders and sector groups to compile information, resources and tools that you can access quickly and easily. These will be online soon, so keep an eye on thrivingsouthland.co.nz.
And finally, the Thriving Southland team are busy introducing themselves to Catchment Groups throughout Southland. Many of you may already know your coordinator, but if not, please read on to find out about our team in the field. The coordinators are there to support all the Groups, regardless of the stage of development, so please get in touch if you want to join a Group, start a Group, learn more about the Groups or discuss a project idea.
We’re enormously proud of the speed with which the team has come together, their agility, and the difference they’re already making working alongside sector and partner organisations.
On that note, thank you to the more than 75 of you that attended a stakeholder webinar on 25 August to introduce you to the Thriving Southland project and the team. If you missed the webinar, you can view it on our website.
During the coming months, the Catchment Group coordinators will be supporting Catchment Groups with their plans and projects, and accessing funding support. I know from personal experience there is nothing quite like going through forming, storming and norming phases, and then beginning to see some quite fantastic outcomes, whether it’s engaging with the wider community, understanding environmental baselines or coming up with innovative on farm solutions to your catchment challenges!
From Between the Domes Catchment Group
We are one of 23 Catchment Groups across Southland, and have been running for almost three years. We have a core group of 10 who are the drivers, but there are around 60 members involved, ranging from dairy, hill-country sheep and beef and deer farmers to arable cropping. We also have several people who live in our catchment not linked to farming, such as some members from the Lumsden township.
Since 2017, we have met regularly to talk about our issues and opportunities. We’ve run a couple of field days (on the topics of hill-country development and wintering). We’ve also had a training day on rapid habitat assessments and have met with Environment Southland scientists to talk about local water quality and testing in our area.
We hosted the Thriving Southland launch with Minister O’Connor last December, which went really well. The Deputy Director General of MPI, Karen Adair, has also visited our catchment twice to find out how we feel the Catchment Group is going and what we’re getting out of it. It’s really nice to be able to share what we’re up to, as even with a slightly quieter year there is plenty happening. I also shared our biggest challenge - engagement with our community and how to connect and motivate all our farmers.
PHOTO ABOVE: Lyndon on his farm
The really exciting stuff is coming, and through 2020 and 2021, we are planning work on wetlands, planting, waste recycling and waste management. We’re also looking at funding opportunities for a project on the movement of nutrients through the soil profile. Between the Domes covers a really large land area and as a result, we’ve recently created an off-shoot catchment group in Dipton. I’m part of this group and we’re going through the process of working out what projects we want to do and what funding is available to us. This group is still relatively small but we have great aspirations. With Covid-19, it feels like Thriving Southland has taken a little while to get off the ground, but it’s brilliant to see traction. Poppy Sparrow is our coordindator and is supporting us already with projects, technical support and finding funding.Thanks Poppy and the team!
Meet your catchment coordinators
You can find their contact details and which areas they are supporting on our website.
Rachael Verhaegh - senior catchment coordinator
I’m lucky enough to have grown up on a farm and am passionate about rural life and all aspects of agriculture. Before joining Thriving Southland I was working in Scotland for LIC and prior to this I was a Local Agribusiness Manager for Westpac. Farming is increasingly diversified, and working within the primary sector has provided me with the chance to learn and experience a range of opportunities and challenges. I look forward to working with farmers and catchment groups to drive positive change, sustainability and prosperity
Sandra Campbell - catchment coordinator
I am a proud country girl, originally coming from a Mataura Island sheep farm, and now farming with my family on our equity partnership dairy farm in South Otago. I have a passion for connecting rural communities and our agricultural industry. I also have a rural banking background, and a strong involvement in our local water catchment group.
Sarah Thorne - catchment coordinator
I love working with Southland's Catchment Groups and all the agencies and people that support them. I put my heart and soul into my work, and love seeing the real and lasting changes we are making across Southland. Southland is an amazing place to live and raise a family that love water like mine do.
Poppy Sparrow - catchment coordinator
I’m originally from Mid-Canterbury, but am now a proud Southlander, farming sheep and beef in Dipton alongside my partner Grant. My background is in business management and graphic design. I have a passion for agriculture and supporting farmers, and being immersed in farming compelled me to get involved with Thriving Southland.
Keeping you informed
Please take a minute to pop on to the website, and let us know if there is anything you’d find really useful to have on the website that isn't there right now. And follow us on Facebook and twitter so you can keep up to date with news and events, as well as share your great photos and achievements.
Thanks for taking the time to read our newsletter.
Richard and Ewen
(Thriving Southland Chairman)
Thriving Southland Project Lead)