In August 2019, the Harris family attended The Mulloon Institute's inaugural gala dinner night. To honour Regen powerhouse and long-time friend, Tony Coote – the late Michael Jeffery delivered the keynote. Australia’s ex-Governor-General, Michael was also a tireless advocate for healthy Australian soil.
He spoke about Tony's road map to better land management. And we learnt how important it is to keep the 7 billion microbes hidden in two handfuls of soil – happy. His insights were our Regen journey catalyst for the business and our family farm in the Megalong Valley: Cox's River Rest.
The proof is in the paddock
Food is only as sustainable and nutritious as the environment it grows in. We grow food to feed our family on the farm, but we're also growing 1,000s of grassy acres to feed our cattle and horses. Without healthy soil, we can't provide plentiful pastures to graze on. With this in mind, we surveyed our soil, water, plant and animal management through a future-focused lens.
Where it flows, it grows
In September 2019, we visited Mulloon Creek Natural Farms (MCNF). Inspired by their Regen project's positive outcomes, we decided to implement a similar rehydration project at Cox's River Rest.
To drive this vision, The Mulloon Institute (TMI) came to scope a Regen plan for the family farm. TMI outlined measures to re-establish the landscape's natural function, fertility, and resilience.
Our healthy soils solution
We're adding green to cool our farm. More top cover increases soil carbon, so the land captures more water. With balanced grazing levels and more effective water use, we can lift primary production.
Making Regen ripples
Wearing our holistic hats, we thought – what if we convert the food waste from our stores into compost?
To figure out whether our food waste was feasible as a compost input, we reached out to Rhonda and Bill at YLAD Living Soils™. In November 2019, they planned to convert Cox's River Rest to a live case study of high-quality humus compost effects.
From the ground up
Along with our Regen partner, YLAD, we composed a humus compost plan. In February 2020, YLAD received 13 tonnes of food waste from Harris Farm Markets as an input into their Advanced Composting System. By May 2020, 44 tonnes of humus compost product was ready to go. A mature, microbe-rich feast of fertiliser.
We tested our soils to determine deficiencies and find the best compost mineral blend. From these results, Bill and Rhonda created a recipe of minerals to supplement the mix. To lift carbon levels, improve soil health, increase water holding capacity and reduce our carbon footprint, we dug down to individual paddock-particulars.
In October 2020, we spread 90 tonnes of humus compost, with the added minerals, on four paddocks.
Over to you
We’re at the beginning of our Regen journey and want to share learnings along the way. Join this frontline movement, and spread the soil-loving smarts.
With the remaining humus compost, Harris Farm Markets in partnership with YLAD Living Soils™, created SOILBIOTIC™. Healthy soils start at your home, too. Take home our beautiful compost for a garden fertility boost.
To learn more about healthy soil, click here.