THE first time Jackie Wilmann turned up to a working bee at the Poowong Consolidated School and saw tractors ready to help, she knew she was in a close-knit farming community.
Jackie and her husband Jim Bott moved to the town five years ago, and were immediately impressed by the community spirit and the importance of the dairy industry.
“Being new to the town I could see the things we’ve got and all the opportunities due to dairy farmers,” Jackie said.
“Poowong has so many things you wouldn’t expect for a town of 600; a school, library, sports facilities, maternal child health that are here because of farmers.
“If there’s a working bee at the school there will be two tractors there to help. Coming from suburbia that was like `wow’, I could see how much of a dairy town Poowong is.”
This made it easy for the Poowong Community Consultative Committee (PCCC) to successfully nominate the town to become Gippsland’s 2017 Legendairy Capital.
“We just needed to show that we’re a dairy town, which we are, so that was pretty easy,” said Jackie, who facilitated the nomination.
“It’s definitely dairy country and such a vibrant and caring community. There’s a farmer on the executive of every committee from the school to the tennis club to Landcare. Dairy is everywhere around you.”
The PCCC itself is led by dairy farmers; president Heather Gregg and vice-president Stephen Halliday.
As one of eight Legendairy capitals from across the country, Poowong will receive $2500 to invest in a community project plus the chance to secure the coveted title of Australia’s Legendairy Capital 2017, receiving an additional grant of $7500 towards their community initiative.
The application galvanised the community which came together to talk about how dairy had shaped Poowong and how the town could help dairy farmers.
The Legendairy Capital grant will be used to manage weeds such as Ragwort, which is noxious to cattle. PCCC member and Landcare representative Wilma McKay suggested tackling weeds as an appropriate Legendairy activity.
“Weeds are a big issue but there’s less funding to deal with them,” Jackie said.
“We were excited that the money would go to a program to help farmers.”
The Poowong community is embracing its Legendairy status.
“People are quite humble and don’t want to brag but they’re really proud and keen to share the news,” Jackie said.
“We’ve put up Facebook posts about winning the grant and they’ve gone to 10,000 people and we’ve had responses from as far as the United Kingdom. It’s been a nice positive thing to share.”
The national 2017 Legendairy Capital will be announced in September.
For more information visit www.legendairy.com.au/capital