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BPF23 Review: More Plants, More Species at Frahns Farm

A generous Welcome to Country by Ngarrindjeri Elder Uncle Moogy set the scene for the first planting day of the June 2023 Bio·R Planting Festival at Frahns Farm. More than 40,000 tubestock of 170 species were planted by volunteers over 18 hectares, with most plants going into an area off Frahns Farm Road and a few thousand infilling areas between the 2020 plantings north of the pipeline near the Seed Production Area. The weather was mixed, but mostly fine, and the most demanding day was incredibly windy, making it hard to stand up especially on top of the hill.

As in previous years, the areas to be planted were graded to remove topsoil, holes were dug and then the whole area was direct seeded with a mix of native grasses, daisies and forbs. The differences this year were that most of the area had the topsoil removed from the site, eliminating the mounds that contain most of the weed seeds, and much of the area was also sprayed prior to grading to further reduce the weed burden. This should lead to less invasion by weeds and give the native plants a chance to prosper with less competition.

Even the extremely windy conditions did not deter the enthusiasm and good humour of the planters, who steadfastly carried on with their planting and enjoyed the breaks for lunch and afternoon tea, provided again by Wild Woodfired Pizza and their extended family. The nutritious and varied food was appreciated by all, in the lovely natural setting, and enhanced by the caterer’s warm wood fire on some of the cooler days.

Behind the scenes, the preparation for the three weekends of planting requires weeks of work by our core volunteers, who unload the 40,000 tubestock, organize trays into plant categories for ease of sorting and watering, and then pack thousands of trays, each with a unique combination of plants to best match the planting areas. Finally, those trays are deployed to a precise spot along the planting rows ready for the planters to weave their magic. And we must not forget the watering teams, who diligently follow the planters and give all plants a soaking to help ensure their initial survival.

Some of the more interesting plants put in this year included grass-trees Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata, turkey bush Eremophila deserti and wallowa Acacia euthycarpa. We also obtained several species of rare plant – the silver daisy-bush Olearia pannosa subs. pannosa, Menzel’s wattle Acacia menzelii and Monarto mintbush Prostanthera eurybioides. In addition, there were new species that we have not planted before at Frahns – Australian hollyhock Malva behriana, rabbit-tails Ptilotus seminudus, rigid panic Walwhalleya proluta and Hall’s wattle Acacia halliana.

Each planting day finished with an optional tour of the Seed Production Area and previous years’ plantings. Here volunteers had the opportunity to ask questions about our methods and view the results of the first four years of large-scale plantings. Many of the plants have flowered already and are providing seed for direct seeding and for plant propagation.

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