The Mid Oreti Catchment Group organise a wide variety of events and projects to support both their farming and Winton township communities. To showcase innovative farming ideas to help look after the environment, they have run some excellent field days on sediment bunds and composting barns. To help their communities learn new skills and techniques they have run hands on practical sessions on grow your own natives and monitoring stream health. To help raise awareness and make changes for improved environmental outcomes they have run sessions on funding and keeping up to date with Southland’s environmental challenges and potential solutions to them. They always try and include a social and fun aspect to their events (often involving food!), to bring people together and look after them.
In amongst all of their events and projects, they have also supported Southland wide Catchment Group initiatives like the Aquavan “Discovering your catchment and coastal connections” education programme, the Thriving Southland Ladies Enviro series, and took part in the nationwide eDNA (environmental DNA) water quality monitoring programme along with the other Southland Catchment Groups. They also had a representative on the Winton Wastewater Treatment Plant Working Group, looking at the resource consent renewal for the treatment plant.
In 2021 they one of three Catchment Groups who undertook a scoping study on how to support the adoption of good wintering practice in Southland when English is a second language. This was wrapped up in 2022 with the creation of a two page project summary sheet can be found https://www.thrivingsouthland.co.nz/international-farming-communities-project-page/. They plan to continue to work with their international farming communities to support this work and make Southland and its Catchment Groups a welcoming place for all.
In 2021 they were rewarded for their efforts when they received a highly commended for Environmental Action in the Community at the Environment Southland Community Award Evening, and in 2022 they were runners up for the inaugural Catchment Group category at the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
2021 saw the creation of the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement, along side a focus of supporting landowners, community groups and other Catchment Groups learn how to grow their own native plants. Regular grow your own native workshops have been run throughout the year over 2022 and 2023, with animal pest control being added in 2023. The group also helps schools and community groups plant out their native plants and are keep to work alongside local groups, people and businesses who are keen to support this too.
In 2023 the group received a fantastic grant from the Westpac Watercare Project to purchase native plants and plant protectors for Years 2 and 3 of the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement, whilst the project’s baby plants are growing. Huge thanks to Westpac and NZ Landcare Trust for this amazing funding.
The group also continue to run an annual composting wintering barn event, which also covered deer wintering in 2023, and regular events to help landowners understand current rules, regulations and funding opportunities affecting the farming sector. They are always keen to share their knowledge and support others to help practical on the ground changes to look after land, water and people across Southland.
Mid Oreti have set up a colourful and well used Facebook page, and advertise their events in the Winton Outlook and on the Winton Community Pages too.
Here is a snapshot of some of our favourite events and activities:
Runoff Detainment Bund & Nursery Field Day – Sediment bunds have been created to slow the flow of runoff from the dairy farm hill catchment, to reduce sediment and nutrient loss to waterways when it rains. Top tips to set up your own native plant nursery (with no experience needed!) were shared, and many questions answered. Over 50 people joined in.
Winton Ecological Stream Health Field Day – Fun, interactive session with Freshwater Ecologist Robin Holmes (Cawthron Institute), to show the group lots of easy to use techniques to work out how healthy a stream is by looking at the macroinvertebrates (stream bugs) and using the one page Rapid Habitat Assessment.
Red shed set up and running! - Mid Oreti Catchment Group’s very own meeting space cleaned and refurbished using an old school on Fiona and Steve Smith property at AB Lime. In 2023 the group decided to use local meeting spaces in Winton, as more central for everyone.
Rapid Habitat Assessment training session – Quick and easy technique, scoring 10 categories on a one-page sheet, to help people work out the health of their stream without getting wet! Anyone can use it on their farm or in their community. Followed up with a quick chat about the good points of the stream, and what could be done to make it better.
Grow Your Own Native events - practical workshops where people can stay from 5 mins to an hour learning and doing seed collection, processing, sowing and potting, with extra info on native plant identification, right plant, right place, right purpose.
Winton Stream eDNA and Water Quality Testing Demonstration Session – Practical, easy and fun session covering a variety of different ways to take water samples using plastic bottles and a sonde.
First Mid Oreti Catchment Group event on Marshalls Creek! Trained locals up to use the easy one-page Rapid Habitat Assessment technique, and lots of sites were monitored. This creek runs through the heart of Winton, and is a great place to bring people together to learn new skills, meet new people and learn how to look after our waterways.
Composting Barn Field Days - Steve Smith, AB Lime’s General Manager, hosts groups and interested people at their composting barn trial. They talk (warts and all) about how it is going and their plans for the future, and answer all the questions. In 2023, the team started to add other local farm wintering systems to the field day too.
Environment Southland & Te Ao Marama Talk on Southland’s Future Environmental Challenges – one of the first of these talks in Southland, which was followed up with a Regional Forum presentation the next year when their Recommendation Report was finished
Grow Your Own Natives Mini Workshop at Southland Catchment Groups Forum Meeting – to help other Catchment Groups learn how to grow natives and start their own nurseries and Mini Forest Movement projects ·
Funding for Farmers for Better Environmental Outcomes – a great range of short presentations and stands from local organisations that have funding or free support opportunities for better environmental outcomes on farm or in the community. Covered a range of opportunities including planting, protecting native bush, wetland development and Farm Plans.
Ballance Farm Environment Awards nomination – inspiring to look back on all that the group has done in just a few years, and get feedback on how we could develop in the future.
Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement planting events – love getting our plants in the ground and enhancing biodiversity and working with different people and communities across our patch.
Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement planting events – love getting our plants in the ground and enhancing biodiversity and working with different people and communities across our patch
Mid & Lower Oreti Bus Trip (co-organised by all the Oreti Catchment Groups) – loved being part of this and help make it happen