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ASHBOLT farm is located in the beautiful Derwent Valley in southern Tasmania.

Image courtesy of Pam Verwey of Mad About Photography

Farming in Tasmania

Tasmania and its future

Tasmania is awe-inspiring – she is beautiful, fragile and island-isolated. Tasmania is fringed by dramatic and stunning coastlines; surrounded by rugged waters; criss-crossed with mountains and crystal-clear rivers; blessed with fertile countryside and sympathetic colonial architecture; and populated by an intimate and friendly people.

Tasmania is also touched by the freshest air and rain in the world. Further, Tasmania is so small - it fosters this wonderful sense that we are holding a special treasure in the palm of our hand, like a pearl, still lustrous in its rugged shell. But there is cause for concern as the drivers of immediacy and mediocrity (inherent in an economically-driven world) continue to create small, but lasting scars on her streetscapes and countryside.

In the relatively short period we have been farming, (29 years), we have seen huge changes in Tasmania’s rural and built landscape due to constant pressure from suburbanisation and forestry. This has meant the loss of whole rural communities – people, skills and services.

As a community, we have identified our strengths, but we have not had the capacity or drive to find the way to a more sustainable future. The answers are complex, the immediacy of short term “easy” development, against the longer term investment in a more resilient and vibrant future.

It is a huge challenge. To me, this is the story that is echoed in the development of our farm. We have faced the decision to turn our back on a system of commodity farming that was all about surviving in the now (eating into our long term equity (our health and the health of the soil and the land)); or to dig deeper, to look for real and different solutions, to build something we could hand over to the next generation with pride.

We looked for answers based on things that are important to us – the creation of beauty, the caring for the land, the leaving of a legacy. It has taken well over a decade to make this turn around, and we still have a way to go. But we strongly believe we have found the right path for us. We wish we had found it earlier as there is still much to do.

We fervently hope that Tasmania’s entrepreneurial spirit also shines in a way that won’t tarnish her natural beauty and the potential she has for future generations.

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