16 May 2024

From generations past to today, in Crookwell, from little trees, big things grow

| Sally Hopman
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Two men and a woman holding a sign in a paddock

Project co-ordinator Mary Bonet from K2W Link with property owner Garry Kadwell and Great Eastern Ranges board member Ian Pulsford after the plantings on the Crookwell property. Photo: Clare McCabe.

One of Crookwell farmer Garry Kadwell’s first memories was, at age seven, helping his grandfather plant trees.

“I remember asking him why we were doing that when we already had hundreds,” Garry, now 60, said, “and he told me that it took a wise man a lifetime to grow a tree – and a fool just a few minutes to kill it.

“I’ll never forget that. It really struck me then and I am so grateful my grandfather had such foresight.”

Today, Garry, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Joseph, who settled the Crookwell property in 1901, grandfather Cecil and father Albert, grows trees. Lots of trees.

He now devotes almost half his 800-hectare property to growing trees, using the remainder to grow potatoes and raise lambs.

“Doing something like this,” he said, “makes you feel you are really making a difference. I suppose for some people, it might go against the grain but it has given me more satisfation than anything.”

Garry plans to continue the family tradition of working with, rather than against nature, on his farm.

He said many groups like Landcare and other interested folk started coming out to the farm to see what he and his family had done, growing what he estimates to be, thousands of Australian natives.

“I like to do at least one project a year,” he said. Last month a tractor-load of volunteers came out to his property in a tree-planting exercise organised by K2W Link as part of Cores, Corridors and Koalas – a partnership between the Great Eastern Ranges and WWF Australia to restore and connect critical habitat for forest-dependent wildlife.

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“We had about 15 volunteers come out on the day,” he said. “They ranged from the tiniest little kids to adults all helping to plant trees.”

Five hundred seedlings from a range of 11 species, including eucalyptus, acacia, leptospermum and callistemon, were planted to restore a riparian area along the Crookwell River and provide connectivity for local wildlife.

K2W Link project coordinator Mary Bonet said Garry had successfully enacted land stewardship practices while maintaining a highly productive agricultural business.

The plants would benefit the river by stabilising the soil, filtering water entering the river and providing shade. They would also fill the habitat gaps within the wildlife corridor, creating safe migratory routes and shelter for animals.

“Planting together benefits our community’s health and wellbeing and the native animals and plants in the Kanangra-Boyd to Wyangala wildlife corridor,” Mary said.

“By teaming up to plant trees, we create a wonderful environment for our native wildlife.

Little girl in paddock planting tree

One of the youngest volunteer tree planters on the day at Crookwell was Kate McCallum, four. Photo: Clare McCabe.

“This is a great place to explore and connect with nature and learn about the environment. In the past, land clearing for agriculture has threatened natural connections in the landscape, impacting the migratory routes and habitat of native wildlife.”

Southern Tablelands members of the Australian Plant Society grew the trees and shrubs from seeds collected at local reserves and properties.

Mary said Garry Kadwell had enacted land stewardship methods that recognised and respected the landscape while maintaining a highly productive property that produced, on average, 2000 tonnes of seed potatoes and 1800 prime lambs.

K2W Link has been named a finalist in the NSW Landcare Awards for the Community Partnerships category. The awards ceremony will be held in Sydney in June.

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