Personal battle just a step to winning war

26 Nov, 2003 10:00 PM
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PINDAR farmer Lindsay Olman is fighting cancer, but to him it¹s a secondary battle compared with the campaign to keep the bush alive.

It is a typical response from Lindsay who always looks to draw inspiration from adversity.

Since a major operation in August, which saw most of the cancer removed, regular sessions of chemotherapy have left him tired and listless, meaning that he can do little around the farm.

And with harvest underway, that could have represented a major problem.

His two workmen, however, are taking care of the family farm and his best mates and a string of good friends will get together in a couple of weeks to take off 800ha (2000ac) of Westonia wheat on a block near Mullewa, where he was born.

That¹s the type of community response that Lindsay fears one day will not exist.

³We¹ve got to diversify in this area,² he said. ³We¹ve got to get away from just traditional production and think more about value adding because that¹s the only way we can attract more people and keep the community going.²

Lindsay has been to the forefront in trying to get the best for the bush.

In the 1980s he helped form the Rural Action Group, supported the Rural Action Movement and in 1991, helped with the formation of United Farmer¹s Co-operative and the WA Noodle Growers Association.

Two years ago, Lindsay was instrumental in forming the Pindar-Tardun Co-operative and within weeks local farmers in the group has come up with a number of innovative ideas before an ensuing drought halted plans.

But drought is a temporary hurdle to Lindsay. His mind is as sharp as ever it and doesn¹t take him long to get into full stride about his vision for country WA.

³We can see the infrastructure crumbling around us and if we don¹t do something as a community we will see our hospitals and schools just disappear,² he said.

³There are a lot of enthusiastic people in the Pindar and Tardun districts. They know that if nothing is done it will be a case of asking who will be the last to turn the lights out.

³We¹ve got to reverse that thinking and while it won¹t be easy, I believe we can do it.²

³Firstly we need water for this area and we need government assistance to get at untapped aquifers.

³Then we could establish market gardens, aquaculture, floriculture, viticulture, horticulture and livestock feedlots.

³The local CBC ag school could become the hub of a value-adding processing industry which establishes overseas markets.

³It¹s a concept that could be applied anywhere and it would attract people and therefore maintain and build infrastructures in the country.²

According to Lindsay, if Israel can do it, so can WA farmers.

³We are world leaders in dryland farming and we just need to believe in ourselves a bit more and start,² he said. ³We communicate well but we undersell ourselves.²

Of course, water and money are the big requirements but Lindsay is confident that by making small steps, it will lead to giant strides.

³We need seed capital to research what is possible and to identify markets,² he said.

³Then we draw up plans and there are enough brains in this community to do that.

³Then we lobby the State and Federal governments and the private business sector for matching funds.²

Lindsay says he is not the only one with this vision.

He points to the Pindar-Tardun Co-operative as the foundation for building for the next generation.

³What we and other communities do today will be absolutely vital for our sons and daughters and future generations,² he said.

³If people catch the vision there¹s a whole ripple effect that will be felt throughout the wheatbelt that will rebuild communities.²

After harvest, Lindsay and other members of the Pindar-Tardun Co-operative will be down to work discussing possible projects.

³I think it would be logical to look at things that are needed by our northern neighbours in Indonesia and south east Asia,² he said.

³That would mean fish and beef for starters.

³But other communities will have other ideas because the whole focus of rebuilding the bush needs to be attacked by communities with their own individuality.

³We¹re all different but we can all do our bit.²

Lindsay has an old saying he loves to recite:

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

Today is a gift. That¹s why it¹s called the present.

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