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Farmer John Fenton’s obsession with planting bushes was ridiculed however he created a legacy

Deep in winter, as wind, rain and biting chilly make Victoria’s western districts a bleak place for farmers and livestock, David Fenton looks like Australia’s luckiest farmer.

“I probably dwell on one of the best farm on the planet. It is a terrific place to get up within the morning and a terrific place within the night,” he stated.

“Every single day, there’s one thing new.”

David owns Lanark, a 700-hectare prime lamb-grazing property at Branxholme.

A 3rd of Lanark is roofed with constructed wetlands and several other hundred thousand bushes planted for stock-shelter, wildlife habitat and forestry.

“I really like the phrase environmentally sustainable,” David stated.

“They’re most likely my two favorite phrases, and we have been that now for not less than the final 12 to 14 years.”

Photo of a man smiling on a farm
David Fenton is grateful for the legacy his late father left behind at Lanark.(Landline: Pip Courtney)

An environmental jewel

His late father, John, made the wetlands and spent a long time planting bushes and turning the windswept, close to treeless farm he inherited in 1956 into an environmental jewel.

In 1997 when Landline first visited Lanark, John Fenton had spent over half 1,000,000 {dollars} on bushes.

He admitted his obsession meant farm productiveness had suffered.

Photo of an older man walking
John Fenton was 64 years into his 100-year farm plan when he died on the age of 85.(ABC Landline)

John’s environmental imaginative and prescient was celebrated, but it surely prompted tensions at house.

“I needed to lay down the foundations a number of occasions and say, ‘I am sorry, however you are not getting any revenue out of your bushes other than useful shelter for animals, and if you do not have your pastures proper there is not any level in doing it’,” spouse Cicely Fenton stated.

David stated his father knew the farm wanted to be extra productive however “he simply would not admit it”.

A troublesome succession

When David inherited Lanark in 2003, he improved pastures and changed ageing fences, yards, and the shearing shed.

As many rural households know, intergenerational succession could be troublesome, and so it was at Lanark, with John hovering and criticising his son.

However it lastly handed.

“Not lengthy earlier than he died, he put his hand on my shoulder and stated, ‘You simply maintain doing what you are doing. You are doing a terrific job’, which meant rather a lot,” David stated.

They may have argued in regards to the bushes being the precedence, however John taught David a worthwhile lesson: bushes weren’t the enemy of pasture, with the shelter they offered from wind and solar greater than compensating for the house they occupied.

Photo of rows of trees
Timber planted in strains and circles created a microclimate on the farm.(ABC Landine)

“Twenty-three to 25 per cent of bushes in your property does not have an effect on the quantity of inventory you may run,” David stated.

“The bottom stays hotter longer, there’s much less battering from the setting and inventory are happier.”

John Fenton died two years in the past, aged 85.

Subsequent era prepared

Final month Landline visited Lanark for the third time.


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