Review: Frahns Farm Planting Festival 2021

June 2021 was a busy month for Bio·R – 6 days of planting around 14,000 tubestock in newly graded areas across 6 hectares of Frahns Farm, coupled with planting more than 10,000 grass and forb seedlings into a newly constructed seed orchard. Well done everyone.

Unlike previous years, as the final planting day arrived and started, there was time to reflect on and comprehend the achievement. The last plants were planted and watered in around lunchtime on the final planting day, leaving ample time in the afternoon to pack up and relax for the final hour or so. Well done everyone. There is a sense of pride when things run smoothly and something substantive is delivered, and I can’t thank our team of volunteers that were engaged in organising this and managing the activities on the six days enough. They were integral in delivering the outcomes. But it also reinforces that careful planning pays off.

For me, the highlights were welcoming back hardened volunteers for yet another year of planting, as well as welcoming many new volunteers and introducing them to the work that Bio·R is doing at Frahns Farm. Great too to chat to people after a day of planting and to feel energised by their experiences and positivity. The other highlight was Uncle Moogy’s moving “Welcome to Country” on the first morning. This highlighted how important connections to nature are for all cultures and for finding some inner peace of mind.

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Major “Uncle Moogy” Sumner AM. Image: Ben Searcy Photography
Ungle Moogy - BioR Australia - Frahns Farm - Welcome to Country
Major “Uncle Moogy” Sumner AM. Image: Ben Searcy Photography

Few of you will be aware of this, but the planning for Planting Festivals begins more than a year in advance. Brad, Tristan and others, for example, were thinking about the Shoots n’ Roots concert 15 months in advance. Given the success of this year’s concert, more concerts of this ilk will be planned for 2022. Can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Planning for the planting side of the 2022 Planting Festival is also well underway: areas have been selected and targets set (20 hectares and 40,000 tubestock) in part because orders with plant nurseries are needed now, so tubestock can be grown in time for next year’s plantings. Once these orders have been placed there is a respite from planning and the focus switches to managing weeds on the planted areas, monitoring seedling growth, and when required, watering the planted tubestock, if rain is not forthcoming through spring and summer. The planting activity in June is just the first step in turning cleared agricultural areas into functional wildlife habitat.

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One of many planting rows. Image: Tristan Avella-O’Brien
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Some of our fantastic volunteers.Image: Frankie The Creative

Although everything culminates in June, the logistics of the actual planting activities begin in April, with the engagement of contractors to grade the planting areas, to augur the holes for the tubestock, and to direct seed the graded areas with native grasses. Juggling the delivery of these can be challenging. Then there is organising the caterers and utilities, and the delivery of plants to the site, watering, and rosters for other tasks such as laying out the plants and managing the planting activities of volunteers on each of the days.

I think over 40 people volunteered their services to help with these background logistics but I would particularly like to thank Tristan Avella-O’Brien for organising and managing the volunteers – managing the booking systems, developing Covid safe practices, responding to volunteer queries and thinking of everything and delivering this in his unflappable manner, not to mention months of work to bring the Shoots n’ Roots concert to Frahns Farm.

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Tristan Avella-O’Brien. Image: Ben Searcy
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Shoots n’ Roots. Image: James Trezise.

The other person deserving special thanks is Brad Bianco, who managed the day to day planting activities from the intricacies of the seed orchard to the tubestock plantings, and trouble-shooting with equipment failures and finding solutions. He also willingly ran tours of the plantings undertaken in previous years and the seed orchard.

Bradley Bianco - BioR Australia - Frahns Farm - Frahns Farm Planting Festival
Brad Bianco.Image: Frankie The Creative
David Paton & Bradley Bianco - BioR Australia - Frahns Farm - Frahns Farm Planting Festival
Brad Bianco & David Paton.Image: Ben Searcy

Penny and Fiona Paton largely organised the delivery of around 25,000 tubestock to the site, and sorted these so that the tubestock could be distributed to their planting site, helped by an amazing team working in all weathers. Kylie Moritz from Landscapes SA helped logistically by providing access to marquees and in laying out plants along rows.

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Fiona Paton & Isabel Michell. Image: Ben Searcy
Bradley Biance and Penny Paton - BioR Australia - Frahns Farm - Frahns Farm Planting Festival
Brad Bianco & Penny Paton. Image: Ben Searcy

Many others helped on multiple days. To all of you congratulations on a job well done and a big thank you.

Author: Dr David Paton AM

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