Costa inspires the region….and sings the praises of the Living Classroom

October 14, 2015

Costa’s visit to Bingara last week was all about inspiring the region to think, walk, and talk GREEN.

Whether it’s a potted courtyard plant or a broad acre cropping nature strip, supporting natural ecosystems needn’t be complex – but the rewards are exceptional.

This was his message and it was certainly inspiring, particularly to the large crowd who gathered at The Living Classroom, Preschool and at the Roxy.

Costa planting a Lemn Scented Gum at Bingara's Living Classroom

Costa planting a Lemon Scented Gum at Bingara’s Living Classroom.

Northern Slopes Landcare and the North West Local Land Services, as part of the Biolinks project, hosted the presenter on a tour that focused on biodiversity and community within the region.

“Our role in biodiversity is critical, how can we work with ecology and make our homes a better place,” Costa queried.

In residential areas Costa explained how easily small plant structure can allow bugs and wildlife a thoroughfare to link gardens and eventually seek out larger ecosystems, and the same theory can apply to broad acre farming.

“Our farms need native corridors and our waterways need flourishing banks to allow wildlife, seed banks and ecosystems to flourish and expand. Encouraging birds in turn controls insects and allows crops to thrive.”

And while a highly manicured garden may look pretty, Costa believed it was a huge hindrance to the cause.

“These days we are constantly mowing, hedging, blowing leaves – we can’t seem to handle any mess, but our gardens are the opposite, they love leaf drop and wild …shrubby under-planting, it’s the perfect environment for wildlife to feel secure and to nurture seed banks.” “Every species has it’s place and the more we mess with the balance the poorer our garden and soil health will be.”

The tour began in Moree, with a breakfast presentation at the Moree Town and Country Club where Bellata farmer Nicky Kirkby also spoke on projects recently undertaken on their broadacre farm.

From Moree the tour continued to Bingara where Costa visited the Living Classroom, the Aussie Farm Dam Makeover and Touriandi Lodge.

Consisting of 14 lakes, ponds and dams on Bingara’s Living Classroom site, The Aussie Farm Dam Makeover Project (AFDM) was the brainchild of Landscape Architecture students from Brisbane’s University of Technology engaged by the Gwydir Shire Council.

With a range of features from a Fish Capture Cove, Island Solar Pump and Swamp Walkway, the innovative project provides a protocol for farmers to consider for their own dam land use.

Local Vision 2020 Member, Rick Hutton, who was instrumental in developing the idea, said the community was pleased to welcome Costa to the site.

“The Living Classroom provides a learning environment and showcase for regenerative agriculture, and considering Costa’s strong philosophy on sustainability and education we believe he will be very impressed with what we have achieved so far.”

A visit to the Bingara Preschool was also on the agenda, with Costa passionate about engaging children of all ages.

“From Preschool, Primary School and High School, it’s never too early to start the conversation and ensure there is a pathway of understanding so that our ecosystems are nurtured into the future.

Dinner at the Roxy Theatre and a key note speech on biodiversity, gardening and the importance of community inspired the room.

“You, as a community, have the collective knowledge and ability to make things happen, from establishing native vegetation types and seed banks to educating your youth.”

Comparing community to natural ecosystems, Costa observed that a 200-year-old hollow trunk easily co-exists with a young tree, providing shelter, ecosystem services and protection where the young tree cannot.

“Why would you need to take it out just because it is old, in the human and environmental community old and young both contribute, and are vital for a healthy ecosystem.”

Similarly, within the community he believed the older generation should be engaging with local youth, providing diversity and security, much like in biodiversity.

“If an older person volunteers in a local school vegetable garden the students then know that person, know that they are a protector and friend, know they have a safe house if they are in trouble and have that extra sense of security and community, which really is the exact same outcomes our ecosystems aim to provide the environment and natural wildlife.”

Expressions of Interest are open currently for on ground works projects, for more information please contact Northern Slopes Landcare at or North West Local Land Services on 02 6750 9000