The Untrained Environmentalist

by Leisa on July 15, 2010

I love to read, and I read a mix of about 3-4 books a week, about health, metaphysics, raw food, healing of all types, permaculture and the environment – and when I want to switch off my brain – I love reading a variety of different genre’s of novels.

This week I read a great book called “The Untrained Environmentalist. How an Australian grazier brought his barren property back to life.” by John Fenton.


“50 years ago a young farmer named John Fenton took over his family’s run-down sheep property in Victoria. Named Lanark, the property was barren, windswept and environmentally all but dead. Fenton set about bringing the property back to life. He planted trees. He reinstated wetlands. He created wildlife reserves. Other farmers thought he had gone a little mad, but as time went on, Fenton came to realise he had stumbled on something extremely important for the Australian landscape as a whole: an integrated, sustainable farming system that was in tune with nature. Thus, he became an environmentalist almost by chance. By the time Fenton handed over the property to his son a few years ago, he had planted close to 100,000 trees. He had turned a desolate, degraded farm into an oasis teeming with bird life. In this book he tells the inspiring story of how his miracle was achieved.”


For Aussies – this autobiography details a beautiful picture of country Australian life over the past 50 years, and filled me with sentiment for those days when I was growing up, and life seemed much more simple.

The book also inspires a love of the land, and shows what is possible in restoring the environment to its natural state – and the harmony that can be achieved between nature and agriculture.  John’s message is very much along the lines of a concept that the Native American’s speak about, which is that we must consider our actions in the light of how they will impact the world and our family, seven generations from now.

A lot of what John has done with this farm, is not going to come to fruition in his lifetime – slow growing trees that take 125 years to mature for example – but it is the forethought of the legacy that he is creating for future generations, that influences his decisions for the land.

It is a shame that we don’t have people with John’s knowledge, passion and long-term thinking in the government running the environment portfolio.  It is only acting on visions of this kind, that we will see a genuine improvement in our land.

I highly recommend this book – it makes me just want to run out and plant trees!

What are your thoughts on the before and after photo’s?



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1 commentAdd comment

Kas July 25, 2010 at 4:42 am

Amazing Story. The place ‘after’ and before’ looks so different! Must get a book!!! Thanks for sharing.

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