What was supposed to be the 43rd Mudgee Small Farm Field Days has been postponed until early November because of COVID-19 restrictions and the lockdown.
- Mudgee Small Farm Field Days has been postponed to early November due to COVID restrictions
- It’s estimated the event used to generate more than $3 million for the Mudgee community
- Viticulturists say during the last 20 years, sustainable farming practices have become more popular
The event and agriculture industries in NSW’s central west have evolved during the past 20 years that the event has been staged.
More than two decades ago, viticulturist Gerry Norton-Knight was the chairman for the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days.
In 1998, the event was estimated to have attracted more than 450 exhibitors and up to 30,000 visitors, generating about $3 million for the Mudgee community.
Mr Norton-Knight said while the event does not attract the numbers it once did, it has been good for the town’s economy.
Mr Norton-Knight owns a small, 20-acre vineyard 10 kilometres north of Mudgee.
He bought the property in 1983, ran cattle, then in the early 1990s, switched to growing grapes and eventually created the wine label, Rosby Wines.
“I think we worked on about $2,000 an acre, we’re talking back in 1995, and that included preparing the ground, putting the irrigation in, the posts in, the trellising in,” he said.
“I’d expect it to be more [today]. So, it’s a matter of how you can share the jobs around … but I expect it would cost a minimum of $2,000 an acre.”
Mr Norton-Knight said the biggest change he has seen in farming and viticulture is the emergence of regenerative farming.
Impacts of climate change
In 1985, Julie Heslop of Heslop Wines bought a property across the road from her father’s place near Mudgee and established an eight-acre vineyard by hand.
Mrs Heslop said farmers and viticulturists were aware of climate change and the impacts it has on the land and crops.
“Because of the climate and the amount of drought we’ve had recently in the last 10 or 15 years, the health of the vines were suffering,” she said.
“I think that’s one of the main changes that I’ve seen, the effects of climate change and the way we personally are now looking after our vines.