Randall Organic Rice grow Leeton Memories

Jason stands in front of his display in the Leeton Community Op ShopThe next installment of Red Earth Ecology’s Leeton Memories project is in the windows of the Leeton Community Op Shop this month.

The display developed by local artist Jason Richardson reflects part of an interview undertaken with longtime residents.

In the accompanying audio Peter and Jenny Randall discuss their organic rice business with Kath Tenison, while the display discusses the effectiveness of this approach to farming.

“Biodiversity has been a significant environmental consideration in recent decades,” says Mr Richardson, featured artist and project coordinator.

“However, I suspect it’s one of those buzzwords that might not mean much to many people and the Randall’s have beaut examples that demonstrate how it can contribute to our lives.”

In the interview Peter outlines how the diversity of organisms in his rice fields assist with the growth of crops, while acknowledging the health risks that chemical inputs pose to farmers and our Riverina generally.

“Mr Randall has seen the impacts that poisons have had on farmers and I think his observations offer an important lesson, as many land managers are currently struggling with the concerns about glycophosphates for example.”

The display designed by Jason illustrates how an ‘environmentally-friendlier’ rice crop can promote biodiversity, showing impacts such as microscopic organisms through to waterbirds like the Australiasian Bittern — which has become a focus of conservation efforts.

“One of the themes being explored in this project is environmental change and the interviews reflect observations from local people in their own lifetimes,” said Mr Richardson.

“This project developed from conversations we’ve had and a desire to help people understand their environment, in part because it’s curious to see discussions like these often fail to acknowledge people are part of the landscape.”

Text-based contributions have come from the Leeton Writers Collective, following a listening event to hear memories from the project.

Jo Roberts incorporated a poem written in response to Joe Errey’s story about the packed trains arriving outside town during the Depression.

“It’s great to share one of the poems from Sarah Tiffen’s last book alongside the Randall installation,” said Jason Richardson. “I admire her writing and like how that piece explores connections with places.”

“Riverina,Writing House and Leeton Writers Collective have been so pleased to be part of this project,” wrote Ms Tiffen.

“Telling stories in different ways is essential to belonging and identity. Red Earth Ecology’s ethos of environment, place and honouring of our place within Nature is an important part of our community story.”

The Leeton Memories display concludes a busy month of projects for Jason Richardson, including the launch of The Penny Effect video at LMAG, winning “Champion Exhibit” in the annual Art Society exhibiton and a program of events at Burning Seed in Matong State Forest.

“Red Earth Ecology held a series of talks and workshops on the applications for funghi at Seed this year, and I also installed over 100 wind organs as part of a display to raise-awareness about organ donation.”

Those wind organs will next be seen as part of an open studio event organised by the Leeton Art Society and Narrandera’s arts and craft network that Jason Richardson is joining during May.

Visit Leeton Community Op Shop to see the Leeton Memories displays and hear the interviews.

Leeton Memories is supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.