Farmer working to make teff the next big thing in ancient grains

Ancient grains have found a place as part of the modern diet, with options like quinoa becoming common on supermarket shelves and cafe menus.

But a southern New South Wales farmer is hoping Australian consumers will develop a taste for another ancient grain: teff.

Wakool farmer Fraser McNaul is growing the crop and working on a system to package and market the product from paddock to plate.

He said he believed consumers would be excited by the grain, if they could be informed about what it was.

“Teff is an ancient grain from Ethiopia, it’s gluten free and its main use over there is in injera bread,” he said.

“We want to develop some products out of it that are more in line with the western palate, so that’s what we are working on at the moment with our paddock to plate process under our own brand.

“We think it’s got great qualities to it, it’s very nutritious.

“The issue that we have to deal with the most is educating the public on what teff is to try and broaden the market for it and also compete with the really cheap imported teff.”

Mr McNaul said farmers are often price takers but he is aiming to gain control of his product and be the middle man.

He said teff had been difficult to grow, but he was hopeful the venture would be a success.

“I want to make farming more economically viable and be a price setter, not a price taker,” he said.

“It takes up a lot of time, every minute that I don’t have to be on the farm I spend in the office or in Melbourne trying to learn things and make contacts.

“We did a lot of trials and a lot of trial work over the last couple of years with different agronomy and sowing techniques.

“And we’ve had some absolute disastrous failures and some good ones as well, so it takes a lot of ground work.”


Read more.

North Queensland artist exhibits recycled rubbish in rural Australia

North Queensland rubbish will be making its debut in a national touring art exhibition visiting rural and regional Australia.

Alison McDonald

Alison McDonald

Townsville artist Alison McDonald has transformed items such as plastic bottles and lids into works of art.

Reflected in her work and her choice of hair colour, the environmentally-conscious artist shares a fondness for bright colours, and from December, more than 20 vibrant artworks will travel to rural towns throughout Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

The exhibition called Wanton, Wild and Unimagined features one of her well-known works called Flow — a sizable piece consisting of 30,000 plastic lids, built to an impressive 12 metres by seven metres wide.

It is also the underlying reason why she made her artwork, Flow, to resemble a waterfall.

Ms McDonald hoped her exhibition would make people think more about consumerism and waste.

“People need to make choices not to buy all that excess stuff that we don’t need … like bottled water.”

Recycled art

Recycled art

Ms McDonald plans to run workshops as part of the touring exhibition, which is funded by Visions of Australia and Visual Arts Craft Strategy, to show people how they too can turn recycled rubbish into multi-coloured works of art.

The exhibition will first open on December 1 at the Moranbah Coalface Gallery, before travelling around the country until June 2019.

Read more.

Sustainable futures Helen Anstis

Sustainable futures

Sustainable futures – Helen Anstis will present at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference Canberra 5 – 6 September 2016.

Sustainable futures: We are pleased to announce Ms Helen Anstis, CEO, Baw Baw Shire Council as a Speaker at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress to be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016.

Helen Anstis will present on ‘Pathways to a sustainable future’.

There is no denying that many rural councils are stretched financially and are struggling to maintain the current levels of service and infrastructure provision due to increasingly tight financial conditions.

Seeking additional funding for just road and bridge maintenance will not solve the problem in the long-term. Only systemic changes to local government operations, combined with a review of the funding arrangements from Federal and State governments will resolve the long-term financial sustainability crisis that many rural councils face.

Therefore this presentation will explore this issue of future sustainability and present ideas on how rural councils can achieve long-term sustainability. All ideas were generated through a workshop run with the Emerging Leaders group.

In order to be seen as sustainable, a council would have to have an operating surplus on an annual basis after fulfilling 100% if its infrastructure renewal requirements and provide essential services.

Sustainable futures – About Helen Anstis

Helen Anstis joined Baw Baw Shire Council as its CEO on 5 July 2010. Baw Baw Shire offices are located in Warragul approximately 1 hour east from Melbourne’s CBD.

Helen’s diverse career, spanning over 30 years includes time in the private sector and across all three tiers of government. Her career covers wide ranging experience and includes roles such as investment manager and investigator. She has held positions at Hobsons Bay, Geelong and Hume City Councils prior to her employment with Baw Baw Shire.

Helen’s local government experience also includes a study tour across the United States and Europe, investigating the effects of chronic illness in the workplace, the findings of her research have been presented to the MAV and she was also awarded an Local Government Managers Scholarship to work in the United Kingdom for one month as an exchange manager with Three Rivers District Council.

In June 2014 Helen represented Baw Baw Shire on the Victorian State Government South East Asian Super Trade Mission, which visited Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Sustainable futures and a broad range of topics for regional development will be discussed at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress to be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

With over 60 speakers and 7 keynote speakers, it is the regional conference to attend. To view the 2016 Conference Program CLICK HERE.

Dr Kate Auty discusses Community Energy

Dr Kate Auty discusses Community Energy

Dr Kate Auty discusses Community Energy

Community Energy: We are pleased to announce Dr Kate Auty, Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment as a session speaker at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016.

Dr Kate Auty will be speaking on ‘Community Energy’ in the Regional environmental sustainability stream.

There is a growing movement across regional areas to promote a discussion about and also install community energy projects.  We have just seen leadership in the ACT with the Territory government committing to a target of 100% renewable by 2020, moving the target date forward.

The Victorian experience in relation to community energy is informative.

Daylesford began the conversation about two community owned wind turbines, engaged in a massive amount of community discussion, forged a new way of funding the proposal, built constructive relationships with government, and then built the turbines.  That community owns its turbines and produces its own energy.

Newstead in central Victoria has been forging ahead with a conversation about becoming 100% renewable.

Yackandandah and Seymour and Euroa are all working on ways to promote the turn to renewable energy and Dr Kate Auty explores the elements of a successful campaign.

Dr Kate Auty is the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment. Her qualifications include law, history and environmental science. She holds a PhD in law and legal studies and continues as a barrister. Kate has held appointments as a magistrate and coroner (Victoria and Western Australia). She has also held appointments as a WA mining warden and industrial magistrate. Kate was instrumental in establishing Aboriginal sentencing courts in both Victoria and Western Australia.

Subsequent to those appointments she was the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability from 2009-2014 and she continues as a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow with University of Melbourne through to 2017. Current boards and advisory roles include the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (Chair), AURIN and MDBA ACSEES (member).  Kate is presently a City of Melbourne Ambassador in the development of the Future Melbourne Plan 2026 with a portfolio responsibility in climate change.

In accepting the ACT Commissioner role Kate relinquished advisory roles with La Trobe University in sustainable society, water and agriculture research, and she also stepped down as the chair of the advisory board to NeCTAR.

Community Energy will be discussed at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

To view the Conference Program CLICK HERE. With over 60 speakers and 7 keynote speakers, it is a Conference opportunity not to be missed. To view the 2016 Conference Program CLICK HERE.

Sustainable Development Goals: a win-win for Australia

The Conversation

On September 25 world leaders will meet in New York to formalise the new Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals will guide efforts to reduce poverty and increase well-being, without destroying the Earth.


Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) that applied only to developing countries, the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) will apply to all countries, including Australia.

The SDGs offer the opportunity for a “win-win” for Australia: by promoting more sustainable development we can improve the quality of life and opportunity here in Australia while also promoting prosperity in the many developing countries in our region. This will be vital for our economic future and security.

The SDGs are relevant to developed countries like Australia in two ways. First, they represent goals and targets that can make Australia itself more prosperous, fair and sustainable. Examples include improving gender equality and reducing non-communicable diseases. Second, they encourage actions by Australia that will contribute to global sustainable development. Examples here are more sustainable consumption and production, reduced carbon emissions, and support for overseas development.

Perhaps one of the most significant applications of the SDGs to Australia will be in helping reduce the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. A core principle underpinning the SDGs is that “no one is left behind”: the goals and targets are to be met for all income and social groups, particularly disadvantaged groups.

As one of the world’s most urbanised countries, goal 11, to make our cities safe, resilient and sustainable, is clearly important. As a dry continent with an important agricultural sector, ensuring sustainable water management in cities and rural areas is critical (goal 6).

And with some of the world’s highest carbon emissions per person, the goals of sustainable modern energy (goal 7), sustainable consumption and production (goal 12) and action to combat climate change (goal 13) are clearly relevant. Some of the social targets such as reducing inequality, strengthening prevention of substance abuse and increasing access to early childhood development also rated highly.

The SDGs and targets are meant to take into account different national realities and levels of development. Each government is able to set its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. Potential Australia-specific targets could be for non-communicable diseases, technical and vocational skills, gender equality, water efficiency, affordable housing and sustainable cities. The SDGs and targets could be incorporated into national planning processes but also into those of the states and local government.

Perhaps most importantly, Australia should look for targets that incorporate the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. It is in this way that we will maximise well-being for all rather than continue the unsustainable path of trading off social and environmental needs for economic growth.

View the full article here.