More dates

Protecting and Supporting our Sustainably Managed Farmland

This event has passed Get tickets

Event description

Protecting and Supporting our Sustainably Managed Farmland 

“For the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment, the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity, but the good health of the land.”

― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Food and agricultural systems are the biggest global drivers of climate change, species loss, hunger and ill-health. As we enter uncertain and uncharted waters in the coming years, and reflecting on the supply chain disruptions, vulnerabilities and inequities revealed by the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, there is a growing recognition that Australian cities must do much more to guarantee their own food security. Critically, this means protecting remaining farmland, enabling the transition to sustainable and regenerative agriculture and land management, and creating pathways for new and young farmers.

In 2021, Trust for Nature secured funding from the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation to collaborate on an innovative project: Protecting our Sustainably Managed Farmland. The project, also supported by the McLeod Family Foundation, identifies a number of permanent protection and collective ownership models that can secure important peri-urban landscapes threatened by encroaching development, and support new and young farmers seeking access to sustainably managed farmland. A feature of the project is the real-world case study in the context of the establishment of the Natural Agriculture Community by project partner Cassinia Environmental, in Rokewood, Victoria.

At this concluding event, the project partners will present their key findings and recommendations from the year-long collaboration. They will be joined by presentations from two pieces of complementary research, funded by the McLeod Family Foundation and conducted in collaboration with Sustain.

Protecting Our Sustainably Managed Farmland

Cecilia Riebl, Policy Advisor, Trust for Nature; Rohan Clarke, Ethical Fields / Regen Farmers Mutual

This presentation will report on key findings from this project, including models for permanent protection of sustainably managed farmland, models for collaborative ownership, and funding opportunities for collectively managed farmland.

Farmland Trusts for Australia

Joel Orchard, Founder and Coordinator, Young Farmers Connect

This presentation will provide an overview of the findings of the Farmland Trust report, an extensive review of the farmland trust and ecological cooperative land ownership and stewardship sector, with a focus on the potential for these models to create pathways to farming for new and young farmers.

Farm to Plate Planning Audit

Annemaree Docking, Principal, PlanItRural / Proprietor, Dalhousie Farm; Linda Martin-Chew, Principal, PlanItRural

The Farm to Plate Planning Audit is a first-ever comprehensive review of the barriers and enablers to small-scale and diversified agricultural and agri-food enterprises in the 26 local planning schemes of Melbourne's peri-urban councils. This presentation will speak to the key findings of this audit.

Following the presentations and a short panel discussion of the project's significance, participants will be invited to participate in facilitated small-group discussions to explore the model and ideas presented, and how a pilot site in the peri-urban context, assuming an interested and willing landowner, might be financially enabled and implemented. 


- Joel Orchard, Founder and Coordinator, Young Farmers Connect

- Annemaree Docking, Principal, PlanItRural / Proprietor, Dalhousie Farm 

- Linda Martin-Chew, Principal, PlanItRural 


- Cecilia Riebl, Policy Advisor, Trust for Nature

- Nick Rose, Executive Director, Sustain: The Australian Food Network

- Rohan Clarke, Ethical Fields / Regen Farmers Mutual 

- Andrew Ward, Ethical Fields / Regen Farmers Mutual 

- Paul Dettman, Cassinia Environmental

This panel will follow the presentations, with each member giving a brief summation of their views on the project's significance and potential next steps, with questions and discussion. 

Who should attend? 

This event is for local and state government planners and policy makers, established farmers and other landowners, new and young farmers, community food enterprises and organisations, researchers and academics, and members of the public engaged with topics of agriculture, food systems, climate change, and social and political change processes. 

Cost: Free (donations welcome!)

Cecilia Riebl

Cecilia Riebl is Policy Advisor at Trust for Nature (Victoria). She engages at local, state and national levels to achieve better outcomes and incentives for landholders wishing to enter into conservation covenants. She works with farmers and entrepreneurs to explore ways in which covenants can be used not just to protect conservation assets on farming land but to recognise and embed sustainable / regenerative land management practices. She has previously worked in environmental law and policy in the private, government and NGO sector, and has received a Masters in climate change policy from the University of Cambridge.

Nick Rose

Dr Nick Rose is a Sustain’s Executive Director and a leading thinker in food system governance and urban agriculture with more than 15 years' experience in the fields of sustainable food systems and local food economies. He holds a PhD in Political Ecology from RMIT University (2013), a Master of International and Community Development (2006, Deakin University) and a Bachelor of Laws (1989, Melbourne University). In 2014, he completed a Churchill Fellowship investigating innovative models of urban agriculture in Canada, the United States and Argentina. Nick is a Partner Investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery Project, “Strengthening Food Systems Governance at the Local Level” (2019-2022). He coordinates Sustain’s biannual Urban Agriculture Forum and its annual Urban Agriculture Month. He has published extensively on urban agriculture, local food economies and food system governance both academically and in the public domain

Joel Orchard

Joel is the founder and coordinator of Young Farmers Connect. He is a food systems activist, a passionate advocate for young farmers and local food and an activated agricultural industry networker. His interests are in exploring the social sustainability of local food production and tackling the issue of an ageing farmer population.

Linda Martin-Chew

Linda has worked as an urban, rural and health planner in Victorian peri-urban councils for fourteen years. Her professional qualifications include an undergraduate degree in Ecology and a Masters’ degree in Community Development.

Underpinning Linda’s expertise and passion for rural planning is her experience farming horses and cattle on a 24- hectare property in central Victoria for over a decade. Linda’s early career also includes nine years in the finance industry and ten years in the financial management of the family owned and run civil engineering consultancy.

More than six years ago, Linda teamed up with Annemaree Docking to create the consultancy, Plan-it Rural, allowing Linda to put her experience to work in the rural context that so passionately interests her.  Plan-it Rural assists farmers in achieving regulatory approvals to put their ideas into practice. We also advocate strongly for more regulatory and policy support for farmers in the challenging peri-urban context.

Annemaree Docking

Annemaree is an Agricultural Scientist, Permaculture Designer, Farmer and advocate for regenerative food systems and the natural environment.

She started her career in the private agricultural sector working in a range of enterprises including beef cattle, merino fine wool production, dairy, Thoroughbred breeding and viticulture. Annemaree then spent three years with the Department of Primary Industries (Biosecurity Victoria and the Meat and Wool Industry Development) before moving to local government on the peri-urban fringe of Melbourne, where she designed engagement programs and offered landholders environmental and agricultural support for the past over 10 years.

Annemaree is now a Director Consultant with Plan-it Rural in partnership with Linda Martin-Chew, where they join their more than 40 years combined industry experience to work with landholders and policy makers to support innovative farming and food systems in the peri-urban space. She also farms nineteen hectares near Kilmore - Dalhousie Farm as a co-farm producing primarily eggs, beef and vegetables.

Annemaree is completing her PhD researching regenerative agriculture systems with Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures.

Rohan Clarke 

Rohan is co-founder of the Regen Farmers Mutual, and Managing Director of Regen Digital, the platform that farmers use to capture the value of their farm’s environmental assets. He is a reformed investment banker with specialist expertise in environmental markets and impact investment models. He also has deep experience working with cooperatives and mutuals, and has run accelerator programs with New School (New York), Mondragon University (Spain) and under the Commonwealth Government’s Cooperative Farming program. He is also a director of the regenerative tourism platform,

Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward or Wardy as he is often known has been involved with Regen Ag since 1993. After tertiary studies in Horticulture Science he focused on Organisation Development for 20+ years.

Andrew is heavily involved in the Sydney Startup scene having sat on both sides of the table. When a Director of the peak body for crowdfunding, Andrew helped usher in the Australian Equity Crowdfunding laws enabling companies to have broad ownership without going public.

In 2017, Andrew co-founded (an incubator for member-owned organisations) and Ethical Fields (a consultancy in Community Wealth Building).

Andrew is bringing his combination of skills to the catalysing the Regen Farmers Mutual.

Paul Dettman

Paul Dettmann has a Masters degree in Environmental Science and leads Cassinia Environmental, an innovative profit-for-purpose team who have developed over 100 landscape-scale project in Australia, along the way becoming Trust for Nature's largest covenanting partner.   Cassinia has been instrumental in a range of international environmental projects, including the first CDM-accredited forestry project in Africa.

Paul is also a 6th generation Central Victorian farmer and has a passion to see the integration of conservation management in agricultural landscapes.

Powered by

Tickets for good, not greed Humanitix donates 100% of profits from booking fees to charity

Refund policy

No refund policy specified.