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By Derek Schlennstedt

Three options have been put forward by the Haining Farm Working Group regarding the future of the Don Valley dairy farm.
That future is now in the hands of community groups and residents who are invited to put forward their votes on which concept they deem best suits the location.
The 65-hectare farm was donated to the community in 1974 by Melbourne businessman Sir John Reid to help educate children about commercial dairy practices.
Now, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria and the Haining Farm Working Group are welcoming the public to attend a community drop-in session on Saturday, 17 June to determine what it will become. Rick Houlihan, member of the Yarra Waterways Group who had been part of the Haining Farm Working Group said everyone was welcome to vote on it.
“It’s up to the general public, everyone is given the opportunity to virtually vote on it,” he said.
“They can vote on which concept they personally feel happy with.”
Each Concept has gone through various workshops by the Haining group and has been supported by independent technical experts, who have provided information about a range of factors that impact the site and influence what it can be used for.
Concept one focuses on accommodating both conservation and farming and would include a Warburton rail trail connection and a boutique farm.
“The First option primarily is a 50/50 option – 50 conservation and 50 farming,” Rick said.
Concept two would transform the farm into a commercial agri-business focusing solely on using the site as a commercial farm.
This concept aims to take advantage of the existing tourism to the area and would transform the farm into an established cafe and restaurant that sells food produced on-site and would also create a Collingwood children type farm model with animals, a vineyard, orchard and vegetable garden.
“It would involve building a new building on the site, which would primarily become like the ice creamery, where you can see cheeses, and yoghurts being made,” Rick said.
“So all the milk coming from the property would be used in this complex, the idea is not to send the milk out of the front gate.”
“We have thousands of people driving past the front gate of the farm going to Healesville every weekend,” he said.
The final and third option focuses on retaining the farm as part of the Yellingbo Conservation Area to provide enough habitat for two of Victoria’s critically endangered species, the helmeted honeyeater and Leadbeater’s possum.
DELWP Project Manager for the Yellingbo Conservation Area, Victoria Purdue, said: “It’s important for us to involve the community and find out what they want to see at Haining Farm in the future.
“This is the first step in planning for the broader Yellingbo Conservation Area,” she said.
The Working Group is made up of seven Don Valley community members, and representatives from Parks Victoria, DELWP, Yarra Ranges Council, CFA, Yellingbo Conservation Area Co-ordinating Committee and Yarra Waterways Group.
The Haining Farm Working Group has, over the course of 10 workshops, developed three concepts for the future of Haining Farm.
To learn more about the three available options and to make an online submission visit https://engage.vic.gov.au/yellingboconservationarea
Submissions close on 2 July.

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