Volunteers from Flowerdale Landcare put in a total of 19 hours on Sunday the 14th of December. This effort assisted members of Flowerdale community in the residential hub who lacked the means or ability to manage blackberry on their properties. Twelve properties were listed for assistance with the energetic co-ordination of Bronwyn Graham, secretary of Flowerdale Community House.
Most of the work was completed using our 600 litre spray unit.
One of the difficulties with managing blackberries in an urban setting are that the seeds are often dropped by birds perching on fence lines and in garden shrubs. This can make spraying inappropriate. On some properties the cut and paint technique was used to protect valued plants. The cut and paint technique involves cutting canes close to the ground and applying undiluted glyphosate to the stump. The poison is then drawn through the root system of the blackberry, killing the plant. This system is a targeted approach with minimal chemical use. It is also time consuming and you need to check for snakes before crawling under bushes at this time of year!
Much of the blackberry problem for the people of the residential hub comes from the heavy infestation along the banks of the nearby King Parrot Creek. At this time of the year the Macquarie Perch are breeding in the Creek and spraying is not appropriate with the risk of overspray contaminating the water. More voluntary work will occur along the banks in 2015.
This year, Flowerdale Landcare has assisted in treating blackberry infestation on approximately 180 ha in the Flowerdale region. This is a drop in the ocean really, but the aim is to lead the community and encourage others to take part. From the response we received on Sunday, we are certain more people will be involved next season.
It’s a fact of life that we march steadily to an age where our capacity for physical activity declines. In rural areas across Australia the reality of the need for young people to head towards cities and regional centres is perennial. This migration of young people out of the region has implications for all volunteer groups in rural areas. For many Landcare Groups the average age of participants is rising. I noticed with our last Insurance renewal that volunteers with Landcare are now covered up to the age of 90. This is fantastic recognition that there are people in our communities of advanced years still involved and making a contribution.
Being less than half an hours drive from Whittlesea, ( no longer a sleepy country town on the edge of Melbourne’s northern suburban sprawl), is a great advantage for Flowerdale Landcare. New faces in our local community are welcome and will keep the average age of our group down. One of the ways forward for Landcare Groups will increasingly be partnerships and engagement with corporate groups. A variety of businesses and other organisations are keen to involve staff in the volunteer and community service ethos. What better place to spend a day volunteering than in the little bit of paradise that is the Flowerdale Valley!
One such group recently joined with us to tackle the Cape Broom infestation along our King Parrot Creek. Unfortunately we weren’t able to turn on great weather and we often sought shelter in the barbeque area of Moore’s Road Reserve, during a passing shower. The Certificate III in Environment Studies group that worked with us on the 17th of September, put in 7.5 hours between them to pull out broom, cut down larger plants and paint the stumps with glyphosate. The small group were given a hearty lunch of real sausages (from our Yea Meat Supply) in appreciation of their efforts. There are many advantages to this interaction. Apart from being an educational experience for all involved, it also makes often tedious tasks enjoyable, a social occasion. Flowerdale Landcare will continue to engage with groups such as this to help us achieve our objectives along the Creek