Funding raised through the NSW Farmers Natural Disaster Relief Fund’s flood appeal will support BlazeAid’s mammoth recovery efforts on the NSW Mid North Coast. The $20,000 will be used to purchase fencing supplies, fuel, food, and equipment that volunteers will use.
“The donation of $20,000 is magnificent and will power the whole operation to continue the work. After fires and flooding, there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Blazeaid founder Kevin Butler.
“It allows us to work shoulder to shoulder with farmers in the Wauchope region and psychologically, it’s a terrific impetus.”Kevin Butler, Founder of BlazeAid
The BlazeAid Wauchope basecamp was set up on the 26 April 2021 and costs approximately $3000 a week to operate. A total of 68 volunteers have helped 48 properties in the region so far.
“The Mid North Coast region was hit particularly hard, with what many described as a one-in-a-hundred-year rain event,” said NSW Farmers CEO Pete Arkle.
“I saw the devastation myself after visiting members in the Wauchope region who had lost kilometres of fencing and massive erosion on their farms.
“BlazeAid do a fantastic job in providing practical support for farmers impacted by natural disasters. Fixing fences is one of the first jobs to do so farmers can manage livestock and cropping and pasture paddocks.”
Kevin Butler said the BlazeAid model is based on farmers and volunteers working together to replace fencing.
“This means our BlazeAid volunteers develop lifelong relationships with individuals and communities,” he said.
“Some people have been volunteering for 15-months straight. It’s astounding for me to see the complete passion and devotion the volunteers have to rebuild and support vulnerable communities.
We’ve only got two people on the payroll. So that means our money isn’t swallowed up in administration. It goes towards the farmers and that’s something I’m very proud of,” Kevin told The Muster.
BlazeAid was established in 2009 by Victorian farmers Kevin and Rhonda Butler and since its inception, they have helped with major recovery efforts from the Black Saturday bushfires, the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires, and now the NSW Floods. This year alone, volunteers have assisted in the recovery of 261 NSW properties.
“If a farmer rang me up and said, ‘Kevin, I’m ready to go tomorrow,’ we will be there tomorrow. We’re back-to-back rebuilding prosperity and happiness,” said Kevin.
BlazeAid – more than just fencing
Recently, at the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards held in Canberra, BlazeAid was announced as the Farming Legend of the Year. The fantastic accolade was a defining moment for Kevin and Rhonda Butler.
“The award is humbling, and the recognition inspires us to keep going. We’re fairly big farmers ourselves but I’ve always thought it’s more important to help farmers affected by natural disasters,” Kevin said.
BlazeAid has also helped to reinstate natural flora that is lost in disasters. The organisation regularly helps with tree planting projects and has conducted a pilot for restoring perennial grasses in fire-affected pastures.
“We worked with agronomists conducting field evaluations to replenish grass and roots that were scorched after the fires. It was an extremely successful pilot that helped around 155 properties in Victoria. Getting perennials back in the ground is something I would like to help NSW farmers with when we have the funding,” said Kevin.
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