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In late January, I visited the amazing Earth Canvas Exhibition at the Albury Museum Library and was hosted by organiser and regenerative farmer, Gill Sanbrook, at her beautiful property, Bibbaringa. The Earth Canvas collaboration of artists and farmers brings together highly diverse perspectives to create new, shared, but highly diverse understandings of the landscape, food production and solutions for climate change.

The artists and the farmers spoke about the experience of working together and the insights they gained. And these insights are beautifully expressed in the artworks in the exhibition. In describing his work, artist Idris Murphy talked about art as a way of amalgamating several different “languages”, and pointing out the weakness of a system based on a single-eyed view of the world, and single perspectives. He said he aimed to create a new kind of “language” to work with complexity through multiple understandings and perspectives on our landscapes, and seeing ourselves as a part not apart.

Seeing the landscape through new eyes is a uniting theme in regenerative agriculture, as land managers learn to see and understand their land differently and more holistically. Charlie Massy calls this changing “the quarter acre between the ears”. Alan Savory says an holistic perspective is essential for good management. But this holistic perspective is no easy thing in a society that focuses on specialisation and narrowing of expertise. One of the greatest challenges we embrace in working with, rather than against, complexity in farming systems, is bringing together multiple perspectives and understandings of the landscape, our ecosystems and our place within them. The Earth Canvas collaboration demonstrates this in a remarkable way.

2021 has been a busy one so far for Soils for Life, including the arrival of two new team members – Kate Taylor and Daniela Carnovale. Our case studies continue with the upcoming release of reports on Colodon in Queensland. We have also refreshed our website and will continue to add new features throughout the year. We also visited regenerative farmer Martin Royds’ property, Jillamatong to take a closer look at soils in a highly diverse and variable landscape.

Liz Clarke

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