Learn about how agroforestry changes how we build homes while taking care of our planet.
Discover the incredible impact of agroforestry on home building as our ELEVATE members visit the Bambra and Yan Yan Gurt Farms outside of Melbourne.
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Welcome to Day 5 of the DRIVE23 program, an exclusive event for Live Life Build’s ELEVATE members and an absolute shift for custom builders in the residential construction industry.
DRIVE23 focused on upskilling our builder members and expanding their knowledge and confidence. Imagine: Determination, Responsibility, Vision, Innovation, and Excellence all fused into one transformative experience … on the road!
We’re now at the final stretch of DRIVE23. From the XLam facility, we headed southwest from Melbourne to the beautiful Bambra and Yan Yan Gurt Farms.
This final visit is all about a special kind of farming called agroforestry: a unique way farmers can grow trees and crops together to better manage their farm and its diversity. It also is an opportunity for farmers to have greater stewardship over their land, improving the quality and productivity of their farms overall.
And it can be a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way of sourcing timber rather than sourcing from plantation forests.
Stick around as our ELEVATE members learn more about the relationship between nature, farming, land management and construction.
What is Agroforestry?
Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. It has been practised around the world for centuries. [Source]
Agroforestry is beneficial to both agriculture and the environment. Growing trees and crops helps maintain the soil’s health, prevents erosion, and saves water. It’s like creating a strong small ecosystem.
Rowan Reid, the owner of Bambra Farm and the ‘godfather’ of Agroforestry in Australia says, “It’s all about farmers using trees to improve the environmental, social and economic values of their land.” [Source]
This type of farming focuses on improving farms while also caring for the environment. It’s a path towards a greener future where everyone benefits: farmers, nature, and people.
Visit at the Bambra and Yan Yan Gurt West Farm
The Bambra Agroforestry Farm Tour
Our ELEVATE members went on an eye-opening visit to the Bambra Agroforestry Farm, a place that’s been like an outdoor classroom since 1987. This farm is a hands-on place showing how agroforestry works in real life.
When it comes to making timber for building homes, there’s more than one way to do it. Big companies growing many trees in a row isn’t the only option. That’s what Bambra Farm is all about. It’s a place that shows a different and better way.
Rowan Reid, a leader in teaching about agroforestry, runs this special farm. He’s a leader in the agroforestry industry, working as an academic at Melbourne University for over 20 years and developing agroforestry education and extension programs in Australia, having developed the first undergraduate course in agroforestry in Australia and the very successful Australian Master TreeGrower Program.
During our ELEVATE members’ tour, they saw amazing tools like a portable bandsaw, a solar kiln (which uses the sun to dry timber), special tools for pruning trees, and different ways of planting trees.
The best part was when our ELEVATE members learned about more than 50 types of trees that are great for various timber applications due to the diversity cultivated at Bambra. But it’s not just about growing trees; it’s about helping the land, protecting animals, improving soil quality, and even making the land safer from fires.
Bambra Farm is a big example of how we can do farming and nature together, and it’s been visited by more than 11,000 people over the years. It supplies timber to many local builders and clients wishing to source their timber more sustainably.
This visit showed our ELEVATE members that there are smarter and kinder ways to make the wood we need, which are good for nature too. It’s like learning a whole new way to build homes while taking care of our planet at the same time.
The Yan Yan Gurt West Farm Tour
Following lunch, our ELEVATE members headed to Yan Yan Gurt West Farm, a remarkable property.
This farm is located in a breathtaking spot, surrounded by the Otway Ranges. It’s been cared for by Andrew and Jill Stewart’s family for five generations. They deeply value nature and running a successful farm.
At Yan Yan Gurt West, they’re doing something extraordinary. They’ve planted over 40,000 trees and plants on their farm! This creates a strong and healthy environment for animals and plants, even when the weather changes.
Recently, they created a food and flower forest using native plants. And they built an amazing cob cottage using materials from the farm, such as timber, clay, wool, and stones. It’s a fantastic house made using traditional methodologies in an eco-friendly way.
Our ELEVATE members explored the farm, learning how everything is taken care of and how it all fits together. They even saw an old woolshed from 1888 that’s still in use today. And they watched working dogs in action and learned about making natural buildings.
Our ELEVATE members also chatted with Andrew and Jill, sharing thoughts and discovering how they nurture the land, making it a wonderful place for everyone.
Lessons from Agroforestry Farms
The ELEVATE members learned much from visiting Bambra Agroforestry Farm and Yan Yan Gurt West Farm. These places taught them a whole new way of farming that’s good for nature and building.
These farms showed them that if we take care of nature, it helps us build things in a better way. Our members saw that agroforestry can also produce a diverse range of timber that can be harder and more durable than old-growth hardwoods.
The big lesson that our ELEVATE members took home is that agroforestry adopts a regenerative approach to farming, improving the productivity and diversity of farming properties. This, in turn, improves the quality of soils and the environment and enables the farm to offer diverse income streams. It also helps address climate change and offers an alternative to those wanting to reconsider using plantation timber.
By doing things like agroforestry, where trees and farming work together, we can build houses and support the environment at the same time.
Continuing the Journey for Sustainable Construction Future
The visits to Bambra Agroforestry Farm and Yan Yan Gurt West Farm marked the final leg of our thrilling 6-day DRIVE23 adventure. But our mission to reshape the residential construction industry doesn’t end here.
Live Life Build is committed to organising more experiences like this, offering our ELEVATE members continuous opportunities to learn and contribute to improving their projects, business and life and making the residential construction industry more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Stay connected! Exciting times lie ahead. Together, we’re creating a new residential construction industry. Stay tuned for more incredible adventures coming your way!
If you want more experiences like these, to improve your skills, and to explore new things, join our ELEVATE program. You’ll get access to world-class training and knowledge, and join us as we create a new industry, elevating the professionalism of residential construction.