Peter and Marlies Eicher of Salute Oliva near Boort have taken part in a new Environment Victoria project, which has revealed a passionate commitment within the community to bring the Loddon River back from the brink.
The project, Your River: Loddon River, was launched last night at a free event in Boort and celebrated the stories of a range of people including farmers, conservationists, business people and teachers whose lives are intricately linked with the Loddon River.
With the desire to bring up a family in the country and be part of a friendly, tight-knit community, an olive grove in Boort made a lot of sense to Peter and Marlies. “The amount of land and water we had available here was sufficient to make a real business out of it,” says Peter.
But their kids are too young to remember seeing the Loddon with water. “What the older generations know about this area and their experience with water, the younger generations haven’t seen,” Peter says sadly.
To try and reduce their impact on the environment, the Eichers use water and energy sparingly and produce their olives and olive oil organically. “We’ve found that younger generations want to know the story behind the product,” Peter says proudly. “When they realise we do it all ourselves, in the organic way and with little impact, they view this very positively and are willing to pay extra for it.
“Through our products, city people see farmers caring for the land. And people in the country see city people appreciating more sensitive farming practice.”
Environment Victoria’s healthy rivers campaign manager Juliet Le Feuvre said the Your River project showed the deep links between the community and their river, and an appreciation of the need for change in the way we use water.
“The Loddon River has important environmental and social values, including threatened species and the internationally renowned Kerang Lakes. It’s also the lifeblood of the region’s agriculture,” she said
“However, the river has suffered a legacy of abuse from over-extraction of water. Drought and climate change have reduced inflows to a trickle and the river is in urgent need of a drink. It is vital that the Brumby Government increases the river’s environmental water entitlement and makes sure these flows are actually delivered.”
But Environment Victoria found there were many reasons to hope for the future of this special river.
“It’s pretty clear from these Your River stories that there is strong community concern for protecting and reviving the Loddon River,” Ms Le Feuvre said. ”People are looking for ways to make a living using less water, and attitudes and expectations are changing.”
The stories show how rethinking the way water is used can create fresh opportunities and regional benefits, as well as revealing the deep affection the story tellers have for their river.
Check out Environment Victoria’s Loddon River stories and photos.
To arrange interviews, contact:
Sacha Myers, media officer, on 0417 017 844 or Juliet Le Feuvre on 0428 770 019.