action-story | 10th May, 2016

Greg and Jo Bear: Cultivating the tools and confidence to break with tradition

Greg and Jo Bear have broken with 100 years of family tradition on their property in Boort to switch to an approach called ‘holistic grazing management’ and are excited by the results. The last few years have seen a big reduction in their water use, yet an increase in profitability.

ActionStory_Greg and Jo Bear heroCentral to the approach is rotating their sheep through a series of small paddocks of native pasture for short intensive grazing periods, which means inputs like fertilizer, weed killer and labour costs have been drastically reduced.

This is an inspiring example of how change can benefit both the environment and the farmers’ quality of life. Not only are the Bears more able to enjoy family time and holidays, grasshoppers not seen in the region for a century have been found on their property. As Greg describes, once you start working with nature, rather than against it, things become much easier.

Ongoing drought provided the catalyst they needed for change. As Greg says “I’ve always had a firm belief that unless you’re under pressure, you’ll never change; bigger the pressure, bigger the change.”

One of the Bear’s key reasons for change was to improve their risk management; irrigation water was becoming too unreliable to provide a basis for their business and they could make more money by running their property as a dryland enterprise.

A private training company suggested the framework and the practical tools for managing their property in this way. What Greg and Jo would really value now is to have access to a local network of support; a group of like-minded people they could turn to for the exchange of ideas and experiences.