The untrained environmentalist: how an Australian grazier brought his barren property back to life.

The untrained environmentalist: how an Australian grazier brought his barren property back to life. John Fenton.

Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin, 2010. Octavo, colour and black and white photographs, paperback.

Fifty years ago a young farmer named John Fenton took over his family's rundown sheep property in Victoria. Named Lanark, the property was barren, windswept and environmentally all but dead. Fenton set about bringing the property back to life by bringing the environment back to life. He planted trees. He reinstated wetlands. He created wildlife reserves. Other farmers thought he had gone a little mad, but Fenton pressed on. As time went on, he came to realise he had stumbled on something extremely important for the Australian landscape as a whole: an integrated, sustainable farming system that was in tune with nature. Thus, he became an environmentalist almost by chance. Year after year, the tree-planting continued. By the time Fenton handed over the property to his son a few years ago, he had planted close to 100,000 trees. He had turned a desolate, degraded farm into an oasis teeming with bird life. In this book he tells the inspiring story of how his miracle was achieved.

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