How a Local Landcare Group Pivoted in 2020

North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare recently shared their COVID experience with us – and how they revamped their organisation:

Landcare groups are community-based groups which a focus on sustainable management of natural resources.  The North Harcourt Sedgwick Landcare Group covers approximately 12,500 hectares in Central Victoria consisting of farmland, bushland and smaller rural-living holdings.

We have a focus on community and shared learning, with work including tree planting, nature walks, nest box building and providing property advice on topics such as weed and vermin control.

Late in 2019, NHSE Landcare reconvened following a hiatus of several years. We had enthusiasm, a renewed committee and a huge list of event ideas. Then came 2020 – the traditional event format was scrapped. Here’s how we adapted:

  • Pledge to Plant. Landcare’s most recognisable event being tree planting in groups, P2P was a way to encourage planting to continue without the group meetups. Via Facebook and email we asked people to pledge how many local indigenous seedlings they were going to plant (or had already planted) in 2020. We had seedlings available to purchase at a bulk price and gave away free tree guards and stakes. Anyone who pledged 25 or more seedlings went into a lucky draw, to win a team of 10 volunteers to help with their planting (if possible during restrictions at the time). A ‘growing’ tree graphic was regularly updated on social media to show our progress – the goal was 500 seedlings and we were very excited to reach 1820 by National Tree Planting Day on 2nd. This event was an excellent way to motivate people, with an added benefit of providing a record of what had been planted in the region.

  • Social media and email. A revamp and increased use of social media was already part of the plan going into 2020 but became a vital resource during lockdown. Facebook (and to a lesser degree Instagram) are an easy way for residents to find out about Landcare and we significantly increased our reach by enhancing our social media profile. We have a Facebook Page as well as a Facebook Group (known as the Community Forum). Members are encouraged to share anything they think is relevant, ask questions and have discussions. Our posts include our own local information and events as well as relevant, high quality and interesting posts from other sources.
  • Property tours and bush walks. These events continued when possible within COVID restrictions; group sizes were limited to 10 and other government advice adhered to including recording names of participants, using hand hygiene and encouraging social distancing. Taking bookings for the events required only slightly more work for organisers; however, we felt it may have been off-putting for some potential participants who would have preferred to just turn up on the day.

  • Photography competition. This was an online event run in September for our Facebook group. Members were encouraged to submit photos to the group across 5 categories (including 2 junior age groups). The event increased activity, interest and member numbers on the Facebook group.
  • Self-guided bird watching walk (in conjunction with Connecting Country). Posters were erected at strategic spots along 1.5kms of the Leanganook Track, giving information about the habitat and types of birds that might be seen there. Walkers were encouraged to stand quietly and look and listen for birds.
  • Resource list. A list of useful, reputable and locally relevant resources regarding rural property management is available on our Facebook group or via email on request. It is particularly relevant for the increasing number of new residents in the area. This project was flagged before COVID but became more relevant as we were unable to host information sessions in person.

Thanks to Eliza Alford for sharing NHSE Landcare’s story. You can find out more about the group by visiting their Facebook page, or sending them an email at [email protected]

This story has been collected as part of Let’s Pivot online program supporting community leaders, organisations, and individuals to change their strategy without changing their vision. Let’s Pivot is being delivered from October 2020 to March 2021. Participation is free. All are invited to join in any way that suits, such as: subscribing to receive info-mailers, joining zoom discussions, and accessing digital resources and information tools from an online impact hub.

For more information go to: www.makeachange.org.au/lets-pivot

To join immediately, complete the form at: http://bit.ly/join-lets-pivot