Mullewa community celebrates first harvest


The Mullewa Community Farm has completed its first harvest, with the 2.66t/ha yield exceeding expectations and generating an estimated $60,000 for local sporting, youth and clubs. Source: AFDJ eNews

One of a growing number of community farms in the Mid West, the farm was established last year following the closure of the Tallering Peak mine in 2014.

“Our community has been extremely fortunate to receive public benefits from Mount Gibson Iron for many years but it was coming to an end,” local farmer, Peter Barnetson said.

“We had a pot of money left that would have carried us through for another couple of years but we needed to find another source of funding if we wanted to keep them going beyond then. Sporting, youth and social clubs play an important role in every community but they are fighting to stay afloat.

“I’ve worn lots of hats over the years and I know just how hard is it to keep small clubs going when you are all relying on the same, declining source of income. There are only so many sausage sizzles and cake stalls you can have.

“In an average year, the community farm should generate a profit of $60,000 for distribution by the Mullewa Community Trust management committee. This year, we will also have enough left over to pay for next year’s crop.”

Following consultation with the community and approval by the City of Greater Geraldton, the Mullewa Community Trust signed a five-year lease on a 275ha block four kilometers west of the township.

Volunteers provide their machinery and time, with crop inputs provided by local suppliers at a discounted rate.

“Everyone is more than happy to do their bit,” Mr Barnetson said.

“We had 17 people at one working bee and it’s good fun. Some farmers drove their tractors and machinery more than 30 km to come to help us with sowing, spraying or harvesting.

“We are also very grateful to all the other people that have helped us with inputs and other costs, including Mullewa Farm Supplies, CSBP, the local fuel distributor and machinery dealerships.”

Among them was CLAAS Harvest Centre, Geraldton, which provided access to a top-of-the-line CLAAS LEXION 770 combine harvester fitted with TERRA TRAC tracked assembly and a VARIO 1350 variable cutterbar.

Branch manager, Blake Basell, said his team was delighted to have the opportunity to participate.

“We were arranging an on-farm demonstration with a local grower, who suggested we might want to help with harvesting operations at the community farm,” he said. “We were more than happy to support this great community initiative.”

The LEXION and five locally-owned machines made short work of the 270 ha crop.

“It was a great day,” Mr Basell said. “There were about 30 local growers and supporters there to help and everyone took the opportunity to catch up or compare the technology that’s available.

“It’s been a great start for the venture and we look forward to coming back to help next year.”

The demonstration machine was fitted with a six cylinder, 585 hp MTU Tier 4 engine.

“The 770 can be equipped with a Tier 3 Perkins, but we’re recommending the Tier 4 MTU because it has more power and incorporates the new DYNAMIC COOLING system,” Mr Basell said.

“This system allows the engine to operate at peak performance under hot conditions.

“Air is drawn into the radiator from above and then blown forwards towards the engine and sidewards out the vents, creating a ‘curtain’ that prevents dust from rising or settling on the engine.”