Journal article

Peer Group Mentors Contribute to Diversified, Sustainable and Innovative Farming Communities

Education Forests Farming Australia

The Otway Agroforestry Network (OAN), in partnership with the Australian Master Tree Grower Program (MTG) established a Peer Group Mentoring service in 2005. Experienced farmers and tree-growers mentor new members to integrate multipurpose trees and shrubs into existing farming systems. The goal is to support landholders in ways that help them achieve their own land management goals. The Peer Group Mentoring Service was started in the Otways with twelve long-term farmers and tree-growers who had all completed a Master Tree Grower Course. The twelve undertook some basic training on enabling farmers to achieve their own goals before the service was trialled for a year. During the trial, mentors attended farm sites with one of the OAN management team, contributed to site reports and followed up visits with offers of support to farmers. Support included advice and demonstrations on the preparation, establishment and management of plantations and visits to properties with existing, well integrated and established plantations in order to illustrate successes and increase networking opportunities. The following year, five additional mentors were recruited, a two-day training program was run with the assistance of Dr Digby Race and Dr Jo Millar from Charles Sturt University and a mentor training manual and program were developed. Since 2007 a mentor has attended each site visit and has been allocated to the landholder for ongoing assistance. Mentors have also been allocated to existing members who thought they could benefit from the service. More than 90 farmers in the region now have a mentor. Recognising the potential to extend the concept the MTG program developed two pilot PGM projects in Western Australia. The MTG provided guidance to two regional groups in the development of PGM projects, helped deliver extension training for mentors, contributed to technical sessions, provided funds to support training and delivery, and participated in workshops to evaluate the projects.

Publication Details
No. 2
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