Unfortunate news folks.

Some of you may know that I’m a law abiding citizen who also cares about the environment and public safety. So I’ve been wanting to make sure that Reades Weeds has all the permits and whatsits required to host my tours responsibly and legally.

My favourite location to host tours is a large acreage that includes both a pine forest and remnant native vegetation, is close to a major road and community facilities including Willum Warrain (a facility I had a little bit of involvement with before its foundation). The mushrooms are not located beside a high speed road side or railway track so it’s safe for participants, especially children.

Foraging is a difficult business and hobby in Australia because some of our environment and food security laws and policies are actually pro-capitalism policies. We’ve all experienced how poorly those policies and laws have worked to keep our supermarket shelves stocked. This is one reason why many people in our society want to learn how to live more sustainably, foraging is one of those skills.

Well as the story goes, the pine forest has been badly mistreated over the years by 4WDers who have been destroying the vegetation and the ignorant few who would rather dump their unwanted waste on that piece of land instead of finding out where to get their free tip tickets (I also had something to do with getting them for the community back in 2000…that’s another story)

I’ve been speaking to fellow foragers and environment/planet friendly folk who were interested in helping me to clean up the rubbish, perhaps on Clean Up Australia Day (which may have been cancelled this year?)

So…I did some research in order to find out who owned or managed the land. This took a bit of effort and calling around. I knew the land was government owned because when I was the Local Councillor for Cerberus ward our Shire Ranger showed me around the land and told me about the councils desire to remove the pine trees. Shock horror, let’s take another food source away from the native birds and animals!

Having been on the board of the UNESCO Western Port MaB Biosphere and knowing a little bit about our local environment, I am also aware of the significance of this piece of land as part of the watershed for the Warrangine reserve and Western Port Bay. This land, as it is, with all the Pine Trees intact would make a great addition to the Western Port biosphere. The lessons humans recently learnt about food security is also relevant to native species that have adapted to eating the fruits of exotic species because their native foods have been eradicated. Due to the bushfires, tens of thousands of hungry native Cockatoos are coming to the Mornington Peninsula to find food, but because we’ve destroyed over 95% of our native vegetation they are finding plenty of pine seeds to feed on. That’s called adaptation and removing such a food source without planting replacement forests 40 years ago could mean the demise of more Australian species.

I’ve gone a little off topic, though this is still relevant.

I contacted the Navy as I was told they owned the land for housing and was informed that they only owned a small area that was recently developed. After many calls I learnt that the land was owned by the Office of the Minister for Housing and managed by the Department of Water, Land and Planning (DEWLP). Turns out the minister wants to sell the land to the Mornington Peninsula Shire, valued for housing development and the Shire wants to buy the land at public reserve prices so they can incorporate the land into Warrangine Reserve. Yay.

So I wrote a letter to the manager concerned at DEWLP explaining how I’d like to organise a working bee to clean up the land and would like to apply for a permit to host foraging workshops on the land…and maybe I could voice some encouraging words locally to support the purchase?

Long story short…DEWLP erected a large gate at the entrance of the property to keep the 4WDers out and erected a No Trespassing sign. After a number of emails and phone calls, I was told NO and NO.

NO I can’t organise a clean up and NO I can’t get a permit to use the land and would be regarded as a trespasser if I do.

So to all the folk who wanted to learn a new skill, to learn how to safely forage for mushrooms, I apologise for being responsible.

Over the years I’ve seen roadside pine trees cut down by council and forests on public land lopped or burnt by bushfires.

I’ve sought out areas to safely and legally host the tours on the Peninsula and this was the only area that could have ticked all of the boxes. The only areas left are either too much of a hike, too small, on private land, beside a road or beside a railway line. (Another business runs tours beside a road and it’s not a very good experience).

Reades Weeds was created as a Biosphere Business, inspired from lessons I learnt at the International UNESCO MaB Biosphere conference in Madrid in 2008, to teach and give a hands on experience to locals and tourists visiting our Biosphere.

Therefore unless I can find somewhere safe and legal to host the tours on the Mornington Peninsula, Reades Weeds is not going to be able to recover post COVID19.

I could go into a tirade about right wingers and their anti environment sentiments but this bugger up has been caused by bureaucrats associated with a left wing government and so called environmental managers.

The moral of the story, don’t be responsible and don’t show you care.

Sad Face ☹️