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Bee Friendly wines in the Margaret River region

Wayfinder in Western Australia’s Margaret River wine region has wider ambitions than simply creating a delicious drop in a bottle. Theirs is a long-term vision to integrate habitat conservation, environmental restoration, and organic certification for their vineyard and farm.

The impetus to gain certification with Bee Friendly Farming was a tangible and relatable way to share the story of what Wayfinder is doing to increase floral diversity and native vegetation, and enhance habitat for pollinators and wildlife.

The new owners of the 100ha property are keen to promote and practise sustainability in everything they do on the land, from growing 50ha of wine grapes to controlling pests and weeds, creating habitat and connecting remnant vegetation patches; and even growing their own certified organic produce for the upcoming restaurant and cellar door.

Declan McGill, Landscape and Produce Manager, at Wayfinder, says the winery and farm are evolving to be part of a larger ecological system, and be a functional part of the landscape. 

The Bee Friendly Farming program aligns with the ethos of the parent company, Overstory, and its philosophy of land management and restoration. Overstory is also looking to apply for BFF certification at its Tasmanian vineyard, Small Wonder, to demonstrate its commitment to organic and pollinator-friendly farming.

“Bee Friendly Farming represents a set of values and an approach that motivates careful thinking and planning about what is done on the farm, and to be accountable as a business,” Declan said.

The audits, processes and high standards of Bee Friendly Farming certification ensure that the actions and activities are beneficial to bees, and insect pollinators on the farm, as well as having long-term biodiversity benefits.

Wayfinder is wholeheartedly implementing the elements of Bee Friendly Farming, with 17 per cent of the farm under a canopy of existing remnant vegetation and another 5.5ha to be planted out this year with endemic flora. 

Farm dams are being repurposed as wetland habitats, providing water sources for bees, and other native fauna, and new plantings of indigenous vegetation are planned on contours and defined land-class boundaries to improve hydrological functioning within the landscape

Flowering cover-crops will be sown year-round throughout the property, to provide valuable floral resources for pollinators. Sheep will strategically graze these cover crops, as well bringing a new source of fertility and biology onto the farm. Hedgerows will be planted out in the produce garden, providing perennial habitat and fodder for beneficial insects. These initiatives not only contribute to the wider ecology of the property, but also are an essential component of the farm’s integrated pest management strategy.

Wayfinder was recently awarded a Bee Friendly Farming Tree Grant of $7000. The grant, provided with the generous support of partners One Tree Planted and Flow, has allowed Wayfinder to expand its planned tree-planting program, with a focus on species that encourage and support pollinators in the landscape. 

“The Tree Grants reciprocate the effort in becoming Bee Friendly Farm Certified,” Declan says.

“Bee Friendly Farming Certification sets an ecological standard for other properties in the region, particularly wineries.

“As an international tourist destination, we are uniquely placed to demonstrate the importance and benefits that can come from a network of properties linked by their ecological footprint.

I see a real opportunity for the Margaret River Region to lead the way in pollinator-friendly land management.”

The Bee Friendly Farming and Bee Friendly Farming Tree Grant programs are initiatives of the Wheen Bee Foundation.

For more information on this year’s Bee Friendly Farming Tree Grants, with grants of up to $10,000, visit www.beefriendlyfarming.org.au/tree-grants-application/.

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