On the 5th of November, Sabrina Hahn once again visited Stonemeal Farm in Narrikup for a celebration of all things farming, gardening and healthy food production.
Stonemeal Farm is a family-run business that produces quality lamb, merino wool and hay crops. Stephen and Kerry Frost have been farming the property in Narrikup since the 1980’s. Today Stonemeal Farm can manage a dry sheep equivalent (DSE) of up to 19 head per/ha, operating twice the regional average of 9 head per/ha. What makes Stonemeal Farm special is their alternative approach to agriculture – a commitment to long term sustainability and protecting the environment, yet without sacrificing productivity or profitability.
It was these factors that lead to Stonemeal Farm winning the WA Landcare Award for Sustainable Agriculture, for excellence in environmental conservation, management practices and community initiatives.
Stephen and Kerry Frost attribute their productivity success to a number of things. Firstly, they do their best to facilitate an ecosystem of sorts: both within the garden and in the paddocks. This includes planting native bull-rushes in dam catchment areas – this acts as a natural water filter for salt and pollutants that stock drink from, and is a great shelter for lambing ewes. Deciduous oak trees are used for stock fodder, production of organic matter, stock shelter in summer and are naturally fire resistance. Another contributing factor is using special fertilisers (Grow Safe Grazing Plus) to re-mineralise and biologically stimulate the soil (Grow Safe Spreadable Soil Microbes). This improves the nutrient value of the pasture and fodder. The benefits in stock health and production are so significant they no longer have any requirement for mineral supplements, injections or regular veterinary intervention. Finally, Stephen and Kerry approach chemical intervention as a final resort – always considering the environment, the soil health and their own human health.
The afternoon began with Sabrina Hahn discussing how to improve plant’s natural defense mechanisms and alternative solutions to pest control. Stephen Frost then discussed what management practices and farming inputs they had undertaken in order to improve soil condition, productivity and overall food health. After a Q&A session, guests were invited to enjoy a home-made afternoon tea. Finally the group was split into a garden tour with Sabrina & Kerry or farm tour with Stephen to see first hand the impact Stephen and Kerry’s practices had on the health and production of the property.