AN IDEA from a local farmer to make use of land around the Quirindi airport has grown into a successful charity supporting local children, with the latest sorghum crop harvested last week.
Local farmers and contractors volunteered their time to harvest the 140-tonne crop of Buster sorghum last Tuesday, with two headers, two chaser bins and four trucks working to get the crop off in one day.
About 15 years ago, Charles Hill, "Karapiti", Quirindi, was part of an agricultural tour of Queensland looking at different farming systems.
"We were out the back of Emerald somewhere and I noticed this school that had great facilities," Mr Hill said.
"I was talking to local farmers about it and a few of them had got together and were farming the side of the roads.
“They started that to fund an extra teacher, but once the school had employed the second teacher, they had tennis courts and a pool."
The image was stuck in Mr Hill's mind when he flew back to Quirindi.
"I was looking at the area around the airport and I remember thinking crops would be a good idea there."
Once the space around the airport – about 40 hectares – became available, a group of local farmers decided to take on the project.
“We started as a handful of farmers, but we had about 20 people at the first big meeting, and now we’re up to about 30 members,” Mr Hill said.
Raising money is one thing, but it’s about having really good projects that make a difference in the community.
The land is leased from the Liverpool Plains Shire Council, with Rabobank covering the cost of the lease.
All inputs – seed, fertiliser and chemical – are donated by businesses.
Pacific Seeds and Pioneer Seeds provide the seed, and Pursehouse Rural, NuRural and AMPS Commercial donate the chemical and fertiliser.
Peter Slade and Bruce Fulloon from Techspray and Bob Sipple from Liverpool Plains Ground Spraying looking after the spraying, and the marketing is handled by Agracom.
It also takes quite the team of volunteers – farmers and contractors – to plant and get the crop off.
Scott McInnes, “Eastview”, Quirindi volunteered his time, machinery and labour to sow the crop in November last year. Peter Bailey, “Gunnidilly”, Quirindi, has planted previous crops.
At harvest, Mr Hill provided a header, chaser bin and truck. The second header came from Lindsay Maybury, Maybury Harvesting, a second chaser bin was supplied by Grayson Gulliver, Dimby Station, Quirindi, and the other three trucks came from the Carter family, “Connamara”, Quirindi, and the Brownhill family, “Merrilong”, Spring Ridge.
The charity has donated more than $65,000 to schools, community groups and individuals in the Liverpool Plains Shire Council over the past three years.
Among the recipients are Wallabadah School, Quirindi Hospital Paediatric Ward, Quirindi Pre School, Eastside Day Care, Quirindi Basketball Club, the Anglican Church in Quirindi, Spring Ridge Primary School, Quirindi Junior Rugby Club and Quirindi High School.
Donations have ranged from $1900 for a barbecue and water bottles to $8000 for the establishment of an ongoing mental health first aid course at the local high school.
The charity also helped Quirindi High School year 12 student Wade Clarke attend the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in Canberra, with Farming for Kids donating $1500 towards his expenses to attend.
“People can go to our website and download the application form that has all the guidelines to apply for funding, then we sift through them and work out if a project fits within our guidelines and whether it’s something we would fund,” Mr Hill said.
“The success of the charity is in the projects that we fund.
“Raising money is one thing, but it’s about having really good projects that make a difference in the community.”
- For more information or to apply for funding, visit www.farmingforkids.org