Exciting prospects to kick off 2012 for Vision 20/20

January 30, 2012

Bingara and District Vision 20/20 begins 2012 with its February General Meeting on Thursday, February 2. This year promises some great things for the organization and for Bingara.

The Living Classroom, the everyday term for the Australian Centre for Regenerative Agriculture, has been shortlisted by Regional Development Board Northern Inland for funding under the Australian Government’s Regional Partnerships program. This is a major achievement against substantial competition, and recognizes the significance of the project, not just for Bingara but for the region as a whole.

Gwydir Shire Council (working with The Living Classroom steering committee) lodged an Expression of Interest for funding the next stage of the project. This will comprise an iconic interpretative centre, and an important start on the “living” part of The Living Classroom.

This new building will further develop the project and complement the school based trade training centre for agriculture which is currently under construction, and the extensive water harvesting earthworks (which are also nearing completion).

Shortlisting does not mean success in obtaining funding, but it narrows the odds. All hands are on deck to complete a full application, which must be lodged by 15th February. We intend to give it our very best shot.

Those who have visited the Bingara Common will have noticed some major changes.  The middle dam, which was previously a small structure which did not hold water, has been expanded to create a wonderful lake holding some 12 megalitres (approximately 12 Olympic swimming pools). This is now full.

An extensive system of swales has been created to capture water on site (allowing gradual infiltration) and to direct surplus flows into the storages. These should also assist in storm water flood prevention within the town area. The earthworks have been funded by a grant under the Murray Darling Basin Development Fund.

The lower lake under construction has ironically, been held up by wet weather. However, it is starting to take shape, will be about 6 megalitres in size and will provide a very attractive focal point from the buildings, and as a scenic entry to the town from the west. It will demonstrate the potential mix of aquaculture with agriculture and horticulture.

Also on the site, the accommodation block is nearing completion, and the slab will shortly be laid for the trade training centre. Construction of these buildings has been carried out and supervised, very professionally, by Gwydir Shire Council employees and local tradesmen.

Landscape architect, John Mongard, continues to work on landscaping plans, and is currently focused on the intensive gardens area between the buildings and the Narrabri Road – the entrance, car and bus parking, and the interactive walkways through a vast range of gardens which will occupy this area.

Adam Blakester of Starfish Enterprises has been appointed to complete a Business Plan for the project, to assist with Regional Partnerships funding application, and to help us develop the partnerships which will be necessary for success.

The first of these partnerships moves closer, with Willoughby City Council agreeing to partner in the cost of the Business Plan, and with a request to investigate three areas of additional partnership, the potential for their carbon offsets, for a Chinese herb garden, and for a nursery to grow out plants for use in Willoughby – all potentially exciting revenue earning opportunities for Gwydir.

A meeting with potential partners and stakeholders is scheduled in Bingara on 2nd February. The Vision 20/20 General Meeting will follow that evening at 6:30pm. All interested citizens are most welcome to attend.

Submitted by – Rick Hutton – President – Ph; 0428 255380