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Fully Franked

Frank Hirst sitting atop his Southern Blue Gum Cladding at CERES Fair Wood

by Kate Sutton

2 weeks ago


Words by Chris Ennis via his Fair Food Newsletter.

Winter solstice falls this Tuesday

The grey and wet days leading up to the longest night of the year are often accompanied by a sort of existential soul fog.

Similar to mould spreading across a damp bathroom ceiling the pre-solstice darkness is the perfect environment for dark introspection and a creeping kind of malaise.

To balance dark comes the light, for bathroom mould there is sugar soap and for my solstice malaise there are tree farmers.

On Wednesday Joel Geoghegan from the Bass Coast LandCare Network brought eighteen South Gippsland tree farmers to visit CERES Fair Wood.

Basscoast Landcare Group at CERES Fair Wood

Among this group there are people harvesting mature trees planted decades ago just as there are those whose trees will mature long after they are dead and gone.

The trees they plant will build houses and make furniture but they will also bring back birds not seen for years, they will hold water in drying soils, slow down hot winds, shade bare ground, regrow fungal internets, create rain and lock up carbon we have put up in the sky.

Agro-foresty pioneer and art-lover Rowan Reid would also posit that these trees will satisfy our deep need for beauty – that nothing makes our hearts soar higher than broken farmland regenerated with stands of swaying trees we have put back.

Outwardly the visiting tree farmers are not particularly upbeat nor are they in any way dour but there is a solidity about them - perhaps it's their ability to envision cycles of time that most of us will never be able to see.

Chris Ennis speaking to Basscoast Landcare Group at CERES Fair Wood

Last Thursday I saw this vision literally being franked by Frank Hirst as he sat atop two packs of timber milled from Southern blue gum seedlings he planted on his eroded farm in Ranceby more than thirty years ago. 

Check out the Southern Blue Gum cladding here.