Australian Story: Sept 28

This week Australian Story profiles farmer Charles Massy, who advocated for change in his industry.

For five generations, Charles Massy’s family rode on the sheep’s back and nearly destroyed their land in the process.

“I’ve made most of the mistakes you can make in farming. I was belting the landscape. I knew it was wrong, but I was in this economic trap of trying to support a family,” Charles Massy.

When drought in the 80s and 90s drove him into debt and almost sent him broke, the Cooma farmer switched to regenerative agriculture and watched his overgrazed land recover.

“I wasn’t working against nature. Life became a lot more simple and enjoyable, not fighting a debt, slowly watching your land regenerate,” Charles Massy.

In his mid-50s, Charles Massy started a PhD, visiting 80 top regenerative farmers to see what they were doing differently.

That led to his ground-breaking book Call of the Reed Warbler, a controversial plea to farmers to start working with nature.

And along the way, he’s picked up some powerful allies including the West Australian Minister for Agriculture.

“Our consumers are deeply concerned about climate change; they’re deeply concerned about chemical residues. I think in 10 years’ time, a lot of this stuff will be pretty mainstream,” Alannah MacTiernan.

Producer: Vanessa Gorman

8pm Monday on ABC.

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