Food Path Chosen May Not Let You Return

By: Nicole Chalmer  

To understand the circumstances of present agro-systems needs an understanding of the historical and ecological factors that influenced their development. Western Australia colonisation and environmental change began in 1829 and was ecologically a consumer front. State Government policies supported changing the landscape to culminate in large scale industrialized agricultural systems producing large amounts of simple foods from crop monocultures based on wheat. Pastures for sheep and cattle, were created by terraforming country labeled as ‘wilderness wastelands.’ The clear at all costs attitude continued until the 1980s, when the last vast areas of mallee–heath and mallee woodlands were cleared along the South- East Coast of WA in the Esperance bioregion. This was encouraged despite clear evidence-based predictions of future land degradation problems, especially from salinity.

"Esperance Bioregion", " Colonisation", " Salinity"
Food Production and Sustainability
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Nicole Chalmer

Nicole Yvonne Chalmer. I have undegraduate degrees in Zoological science and Education from the University of Western Australia; Post graduate Diploma in Agribusiness from Curtin University.I have many years as a partner in a beef production business running cattle on our farm on the south coast of Western Australia. Our system depends on improved perennial/annual pastures, 625 mm rainfall, expensive fertiliser inputs and a frustrating market system where we are price takers.Therefore I am well aware of the social,cultural,economic and environmental challenges facing producers of food within the industrial paradigm. In 2012 I started a PhD in my long held area of interest/concern as a Farmer and member of Australian society- long term agroecosystem sustainabilty.I am chronologically examining causes and processes that transformed landusage and food-systems in the region from Aboriginal occupants social ecological systems;Settlers agrosystems, then modern industrial Agrosystems.My project aims to produce information that can be used to develop sustainable modern food-production systems. It is part of a collaborative project, Changing Landscapes, Changing People: Australia’s southern mallee lands 1830-2012 - a collaborative project funded by the Australian Research Council, through the School of History at University of Western Australia(Supervisor- Professor Andrea Gaynor) and History Program at La Trobe University.