Local winemaker David Lowe will feature in the documentary that discusses the topic of land clearing and the conflict over the old native vegetation laws and the NSW Government’s plan to transition to a new Draft Bill, the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Filmmakers from Bluebottle Films were in town recently filming for the documentary Restoring Earth which also features wine growers in the Orange region, farmers, city people, and chefs.
Those behind the film believe the new Bill, expected to be released for public consultation this month, is likely to allow for a return to broad scale land clearing across the state.
Mr Lowe said that his part in the documentary is discussing his history of moving away from “more conventional” farming.
Lowe Wines progressed the environmental process of the farm in 2003, starting with organic certification and removing all inputs that aren’t naturally occurring.
In 2011 they added the biodynamics platform that Mr Lowe said “is an interesting way of building diversity in agriculture through helping soil”.
“We’ve had a pretty long history of taking a different approach to agriculture, so they asked me about how I felt when I first progressed this to where I am now, whether my views have changed and if I was still positive about what we’re achieving, and partially about how it was received by other people around the area.”
Mr Lowe said that although going down that path was “a risk” at first, the movement of people paying for quality and a healthy product has meant that it paid off.
“To achieve the quality objectives I wanted to in agriculture - whether it was wine or animals or pasture - it relies on a lower level of productivity,” he said.
“So you don’t get the same yields as conventional input agriculture.
“However the opportunities for value in price and return are far greater and people are prepared to pay for quality in anything now.
“They are nervous about conventional forms of agriculture and they are prepared to pay for the ‘health aspects’ of agriculture.
“We’re getting massive results from people who visit the winery: they love the wine, they love what we stand for, and they love the message.
“It was a great risk because there were very few people doing the same thing, but that’s growing all the time and we have many friends who are on the same journey and they report the same sort of results we’re getting.”
The Wilderness Society, which has provided the filmmakers with the funding and the authority to independently shape the film, sees this documentary as a way to help farmers, city people and conservation find some common ground.
Charlotte Richardson from The Wilderness Society says almost 90 per cent of New South Wales is private land so farmers feel the burden of conservation.
“Our charity recognises that we need to make a change, build relationships with country folk and bridge the divide between all groups,” she said.
“This is why I am travelling with the filmmakers to meet with farmers, so that we can work together towards some meaningful alternatives to broad scale land clearing, which benefit both farmers and the environment.”
Before the State election in March 2015, the NSW Government promised to repeal the Native Vegetation Act and replacing it with a new law, the proposed Biodiversity Conservation Act.
This was to address concerns from farmers that the laws regulating clearing of native vegetation on their land have been ineffective, delivering poor outcomes for farmers and the natural environment.