Cropping brings community together

21 Jun, 2012 02:00 AM
Six air seeders took nine hours to plant the community crop.
Six air seeders took nine hours to plant the community crop.

THE Nyabing Progress Association's (NPA) most recent project is a typical example of Wheatbelt people solving serious problems in the bush.

The untold story of agriculture, as discussed by senior journalist Ken Wilson (Farm Weekly, June 7) recognises the majority of our State's farmers are struggling to stay positive in the face of rising debt and diminishing communities.

But they aren't looking for handouts.

Instead, groups like the NPA are thinking outside the box to fund infrastructure and innovative projects to attract people to the community and keep the ones it already has.

Like most community-minded champions, local farmer and NPA president Scott Crosby jumped at the chance to be involved in a joint community cropping project with one of the world's leading livestock exporters, Wellard Rural Exports, in a bid to raise some much needed money for the town, which has a population of about 120.

Wellard livestock buyer and Nyabing crop project manager Chris French first floated the share crop idea with Scott as a way for his company to contribute significantly to the community and effectively produce summer stubbles for finishing stock prior to export on Wellard's leased property in the Kent shire.

Last week it took the involvement of up to 20 local farm businesses, six air seeders, four spray rigs and countless nurse tanks, seed trucks and support vehicles nine hours to put in 560 hectares of Vlamingh barley just north of town.

The crop went into a number of paddocks predicted to have received about 50mm of rain during the last few weeks.

And after the tough start Nyabing growers faced last year, it came as a relief.

"We chose Vlamingh for the simple reason it fits this type of country," Scott said.

"If prices remain stable and we pull off the harvest we could potentially profit about $100,000 for community projects which is previously unheard of in our little town."

Although the NPA hadn't yet decided how the crop would be sold, he said cash options were high on the list and Wellard would make its own selling arrangements.

As well as five farmers donating their time, fuel and air seeders, machinery dealer McIntosh & Son also demonstrated some of its newest gear.

Nyabing community groups will apply for and decide what kind of projects the funds will be spent on come harvest.

A small NPA committee will then be created to approve projects and distribute the money.

Scott said the NPA would also aim to keep some funds in reserve as an incentive to complete a similar cropping program in the 2013/14 season.

"It would be great to be able to do this every year for a period of time so that we can build up some funds and do some good projects in Nyabing," he said.

So far, the NPA had received feedback which suggested the money might be well spent on new homes, short-term accommodation and local sporting facilities.

Scott said a substantial amount of income from the cropping project would also provide good footing to apply for further community grants in the future.

"It will show that we have been pro-active and we haven't just sat down and put our hand out," he said.

"It will also take some pressure off the Kent Shire because local government only has so much money to go around."

Plans have already started for harvest as local contractors put their hands up to voluntarily spread urea and in coming weeks and farmers and machinery dealers committed their headers to the cause.

Scott said the NPA had purchased the chemical for the project with the help of Nyabing Rural Services, which committed itself to carry the finance to keep the association above board until harvest had finished.

Gnowangerup Fuel Supplies also donated a substantial 1000L diesel parcel to the cause.

"The only cost to the NPA at the moment has been the chemical and insurances," Scott said.

"Previously the football club and the other town sports bodies have cropped about 20ha as a fundraising venture but obviously 560ha involves a lot more work.

"That has been happening for the last 10 years or so with the help of CBH because it donates the land around the CBH silos in Nyabing for us to sow.

"Because this project is so much bigger and has the potential to reward us with much more money we didn't want to see all the funds go straight to sporting bodies.

"We wanted to see it to be spent on something with a broader focus, though that's not to say sporting clubs won't be able to apply for some of the funds."

Both the Newdegate and Lake Grace communities have completed similar fundraising projects with substantial business and government bodies in the past.

But for Nyabing the opportunity couldn't have come at a better time.

Come December when the headers start to roll and the mud is replaced by dust (fingers crossed) Nyabing will take some time to celebrate its 100th birthday and the passionate people who work tirelessly to keep its community alive.



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