Just over a year after a terrible on-farm accident took the life of Dulacca grazier Lachlan Hughes, the vision and passion he had is being celebrated with a brand new scholarship.
Its aim, to develop Lachlan's dream of using regenerative agricultural practices for our grazing lands, was conceived in the days after his death on October 31, 2018, after a conversation between his father Philip Hughes and long-time family friend Roland Breckwoldt.
"We all passionately wanted, and needed, to continue the amazing work Lachlan had been doing on regenerative agriculture, natural sequence farming, soil regeneration, composting, water retention and much more," Mr Hughes said.
"He believed it was possible to rebuild our soils and increase their productive capacity to withstand the variables of rainfall, and that this would improve the economic sustainability of grazing industries and therefore revitalise our rural communities."
It was an emotional journey for the family to bring the scholarship and the Lachlan Hughes Foundation into being, going through the many photos documenting his life as well as finding the words needed to explain the concept, but a cathartic one as well.
It is just the continuation of Lachlan's plans, ideals and passions
Lachlan's mother Adele Hughes explained that they could see the benefits of his passionate belief before their eyes.
"We can see what we're doing is working - dividing the paddocks up and grazing them in smaller amounts - it can be done, it's just a slow burn," she said.
While final details of the scholarship are being finalised this week, it will provide funding to attend training courses at both the Mulloon Institute's Natural Sequence Farming four-day course in NSW as devised by landscape pioneer Peter Andrews, and with Resource Consulting Services in Queensland.
It will involve a project-based approach that will ensure skill development, and a mentoring process to provide support and opportunities for network building.
Ms Hughes said applicants wouldn't have to have their own property to undertake a project on but could use land at Dulacca or on another like-minded property they had available.
"The Young Beef Producers Forum in Roma last week got us going - it was full of the sort of people who might like to apply," she said.
Mr Hughes agreed, saying there were so many good young people in the bush just wanting to have a go.
"We want to help them get some positivity back in the bush," he said.
According to the foundation website, the scholarship aims to support people who are motivated 'to do' and who are implementers of change, and expressions of interest are now being taken ahead of applications opening in December.
The experienced selection panel consists of chairwoman Barbara Bishop, natural resource manager Steve Lacey, and grazier and Nuffield Scholar Adam Coffey.
Ms Bishop, a director for Capacity in People Consulting Pty Ltd, works with young people, managers, supervisors and team members across a range of industries throughout Australia, while Mr Lacey is the CEO of Queensland Trust For Nature and has worked for over 20 years in the UK, New Zealand and Australia, project-managing and consulting for agricultural groups in the areas of risk, productivity and profitability, natural resource management, and natural capital.
Originally from Katherine in the Northern Territory, Mr Coffey investigated commercial cattle production and management tactics for rangeland with his scholarship and now owns 2500ha near Miriam Vale, where he is in the process of redeveloping the property from its former use as a timber plantation and is restocking as part of the process.
Cattle donated at Roma sale
In the meantime, the foundation is keen to continue to attract funds to support the scholarship and will be benefiting from the sale of two head at next Tuesday's sale at Roma.
Mr Hughes described the sale as a catalyst for the foundation and hoped bids would be generous with that in mind.
The whole family, Philip and Adele, Lachlan's wife Anna and their children, together with his younger brother Alister and wife Jules, intend to carry on Lachlan's dreams through the scholarship.
"Establishing The Lachlan Hughes Foundation has been an emotional journey," Adele said.
"I thought we were starting with a blank canvas - how wrong I was.
"All the way we have found it is just the continuation of Lachlan's plans, ideals and passions."
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