Stooking the peanuts: historical agriculture and the management of a dying seasonal landscape, North-East New South Wales, Australia
Boyd, WE & Gardiner, JE 2005, 'Stooking the peanuts: historical agriculture and the management of a dying seasonal landscape, North-East New South Wales, Australia', Landscape Research, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 193-220.
The publisher's version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01426390500044366
Popular interest in seasonal landscapes reflects the importance of ephemera in people's appreciation of landscapes. Landscape management tends to focus on long-term and reasonably permanent qualities, typically at annual and, especially, decadal time scales. However, human interest in shorter-term and ephemeral landscape qualities—such as seasonal qualities—allows people to use scales of direct human experience to identify and define landscapes. Brassley (1998), reviewing the 'unrecognized significance of the ephemeral landscape', notes that permanent components are managed through planning instruments; while ephemera may be crucial to landscape appearance, they are largely unprotected or not managed. Here a seasonal landscape of historic peanut farming that remains, in small pockets, in northern New South Wales, Australia, is examined with a view to identifying sustainable management of this landscape. The landscape becomes visually distinctive during the annual cycle of cropping when peanuts are placed in rows of stooks. Stooks are small circular stacks of harvested plants built around a tomato stake and capped by a sack, used to dry the peanuts immediately after harvesting; they appear to be unique. Following Brassley's observations regarding the lack of management of ephemera in landscapes, the long-term viability and conservation of this landscape are examined. The problem is further heightened by the fact that, while this landscape is visually distinctive, it also represents a social and agricultural activity that is in decline and unlikely to survive in the near future. This raises questions about the long-term sustainability of such a seasonal landscape—it is truly ephemeral both annually and in the long term—and options for the retention of at least some of the key landscape components within a contemporary landscape are explored.