Meet Hannah Barber who has farming in her blood and farming in her heart

Expressions of interest are now open for our 2013 Young Farming Champions and already we can see the selection panel is not going to have an easy time

Just to show you the level of talent meet Hannah Barber who says

Education is the key to ensuring the Australian agricultural industry is understood and supported by our urban cousins and I look forward to a career where I can achieve this, and then come home to the farm every evening.

This is Hannah’s story……

I was born and raised in Parkes, in central west NSW and have been lucky enough to call two farms in the region home for most of my life.

My mother & Stepfather own ‘Keilor’, 1400 acres 30km west of Parkes, where we have broad acre cereal cropping, first cross ewes and home to our beloved black Angus stud, Keilor Angus. Our stud is relatively young, only being registered in 2005 but successfully produces top quality cattle with great temperaments and sought after bulls, and this is where my love for the angus breed and the beef cattle industry began.

This little cutey is one of our new angus calves

My father is the third generation to farm ‘Pinegrove’ north of Parkes in the Goobang Valley where although we also have Angus cattle and first cross lambs, cropping is the main activity on the property, with about 1700 of the 2000 acres being sown.

Dad harvesting the wheat

In 2013 we will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of when my great grandfather Stewart Barber cut through the pine trees and settled his family on his new property. The main house still has the original foundations, and many heritage aspects of the home he built.

Our family home at Pinegrove Parkes

Apart from acting as a service centre to the surrounding mixed farming areas, Parkes has developed a connection with the mining community due to Rio Tinto’s Northparkes copper & gold mine that has encouraged growth in our area over the last decade. We also have the famous CSIRO radio telescope, or ‘the dish’ as it is affectionately known, that assisted NASA in tracking the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing – our little town brought the world the images of the first time a man walked on the moon.

The Dish makes a great backdrop for this paddock full of wheat

There is a lot to be proud of my home town, which was why, in 2010 I was incredibly honoured and humbled to be named Parkes Showgirl. My involvement in the rural show movement has been a central part of my year, between junior judging, entering art & sewing and competing my horses all over NSW I have been involved in agricultural shows my entire life. Being awarded 2010 Parkes Showgirl, then being selected to represent Zone 6 as a 2011 State finalist for The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Competition was the first introduction I had to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of not only my local show but the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Me centre with Young Farming Champion and runner up in RAS NSW Showgirl 2011 Stephanie Tarlinton aka @proudlydairy and @duofreefriday

I met so many sensational young farmers and industry professionals and maintained my connection to the show after the competition by joining the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW Youth Group, of which I have been a committee member for the last two years. In 2012, having grown within the industry and still having such a huge passion and pride for both my home town and the competition, I entered my local competition again and made history be achieving what others before me have tried, but not succeeded, by winning the Parkes Showgirl competition for the second time.

At the end of 2011 I was selected to attend Australian Women in Agriculture’s Next Generations Leadership and Decision Making in Agriculture course in Canberra, where I was able to develop my professional skills and meet many inspirational women and politicians, which sparked my existing interest in politics into a potential career aspiration. Attendees at these last few courses were invited to apply to accompany the AWiA as Next Generation Delegates to the Inaugural Global Conference on Women in Agriculture in March 2012 in New Delhi, India. I was fortunate enough to be awarded one of the two positions on offer and had an incredible, eye opening experience which really drove home the importance of education and equality in respect to efficient production and food security particularly in our developing countries.

So many exciting things have happened for me in such a short time frame

Me with local women in India

Later in 2012 the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW opened up applications for Next Generation Delegates to attend the Royal Agricultural Societies Council of the Commonwealth Conference in Zambia, Africa. Once again I was shocked and exhilarated to be awarded a position and packed my bags to head to the most magical continent on earth, to mix with incredibly inspirational, passionate young professional from across the commonwealth, and many CEOs and experts of agricultural show movements, including HRH Princess Anne.

Being given the opportunity to visit these developing countries, talk to their producers and see their production processes was a great way to see firsthand how fortunate, but also unique we are in Australia, however more importantly that the global community is not suffering a lack of arable land and producers, but a lack of education, financial and infrastructural assistance and protective laws to ensure countries such as Zambia, sleeping powerhouses of production, are awakened to feed our growing population.

Visiting a feedlot in Zambia with other Australian and Zambain Delegates

When I am not travelling the world, or home on the farm, I am in Wagga Wagga finishing my degree at Charles Sturt University. I chose to attend CSU in Wagga as it was the closest uni to home that offered my degree and is still based in a primarily rural area so could still feel like home. Having neighbours less than a few kilometres away was something I struggled to get used to; I always thought someone was coming to my house if a car drove past! In December 2013 I will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (secondary) and have already signed a contract with the DET to be placed in a remote rural area where they require more teachers, so am looking forward to heading west for my next adventure.

 I firmly believe education is the key to ensuring the Australian agricultural industry is understood and supported by our urban cousins and I look forward to a career where I can achieve this, and then come home to the farm every evening.

Hannah has a wonderful dream lets hope Art4Agriculture and our sponsors can help her make it come true

Read Hannah’s Target 100 profile here

Follow Hannah on twitter @Miss_Barber

The Farming Game

It is often said that young people are the leaders of tomorrow but like our guest blogger today and so many of our Young Farming Champions have shown young people are also the leaders of today. If you give them half a chance they will astound you with their energy and idealism. More importantly, they will impress you with their maturity and willingness to engage constructively in the process of improving our local communities and the future for agriculture.

Our guest blogger today in Martin Murray who also pens his own very impressive blog the The Farming Game.

Martin is another superb example of the new generation of talented young people from across our agricultural industries working together to help address the negative image and perceptions about agriculture in the wider community. 

This is Martin’s story……………………

G’day my name is Martin Murray and I know that agriculture is essential to Australia and its future. I’m a blogger.  I’ve worked on a cattle station in the Northern Territory and currently work on a cotton farm outside of Moree. This year I am about to start a Rural Science course at the University Of New England.

I was born in Griffith in the Riverina; our family had rice and sheep property called Kulki on the Sturt highway between Darlington Point and Hay, it was here where I developed my passion for agriculture and farming.

Kulki from the air

My two younger brothers and I used to have be up a six and ride down the 1km driveway to the bus stop for the two hour bus trip to school in Coleambally.

The Murray brothers

Other great memories include taking the late lunch down to my dad who was driving the tractor at 5pm in the afternoon, the crop dusters flying low across the water seeding the rice paddies and swimming in the channels.

My bothers and I singing in the rain

Unfortunately there were big gaps between the wet and the dry seasons and drought eventually forced us to sell up and move to Moree in northern NSW.

For a while after that I wasn’t that heavily involved in agriculture but I still always thought that it would be in my future. My dad started working in town and we had a small a hobby farm of just 27 acres with about six head of cattle from time to time. I went to boarding school in Sydney were I soon learned the many misconceptions and lack of understanding about agriculture outside of rural areas, but I’ll get to that later. While at school I studied agriculture and started working on a cotton farm outside of Moree during the school holidays mainly irrigating the cotton and also driving tractors.

After finishing school I got a job working on Humbert River Station, a cattle station with plenty of history in the Northern Territory.

Humbert River is located 5 hours from the nearest town of Katherine. It is a relatively small station of only about 1500 square kilometres running 13000 head of Brahman cattle and turning off around 3000 head of cattle a year.

Working on Humbert was a very unique experience not just because of size, location and isolation but because of the size of its crew. Unlike previous years where they had a crew of six stockmen in 2012 they were trialling the use of contractors for stock work so there was only the manager and his family, me and a cook/jillaroo that left half way through the year. This made my time on Humbert River different to the majority of other people’s experiences working on stations as instead of primarily doing stock work I mainly did other tasks such as fencing, bore runs, loader work and putting out cattle lick blocks

Due to the unique nature of Humbert River Station I also had a lot of spare time on my hands so I started writing my blog, The Farming Game. The aim of my blog is to show my daily life and what we do and why we do it. Around the time I started writing Four Corners aired “Another Bloody Business” about the slaughter of Australian sheep in Pakistan. Like the the forerunner program “A Bloody Business” this program used highly emotive images to portray Australian agriculture in a negative light.

These images are only increasing consumer wariness of modern farming practices and it concerns me greatly that agriculture is constantly being portrayed in the media as having  bad environmental practices as well as the negativity around genetically modified crops and excessive water use.  I have since found issues like these have been around for a long time and the day before writing this article I heard a song by Slim Dusty “To Whom It May Concern”  which was released in 1978 that highlights that the rural urban divide was an issue even back then. I hope my blog The Farming Game will help people rethink and see agriculture more positively.

Whilst I was at school I heard some pretty amusing things from my fellow students who have never crossed the Great Dividing Range and had the opportunity to discover all the exciting things rural and regional Australian has to offer. The most amusing one I came across was from a city class mate who believed that Dubbo was just a one street town with a population of no more than 100. Although I found this hilarious at the time it really highlights the problem of the divide and the need to change perceptions of, and promote rural Australia and it’s importance to the national economy and society as well as all the opportunities in rural cities.

Underpinning my strategy to bridge the divide is to make our country shows more interactive and to bring more farmers to events in the cities where people can hear the farming stories and see the faces behind the produce they buy.

Social media such as twitter and the many blogs written by farmers are also having a great effect on bridging the divide. Bringing the farm to schools and introducing students to young farmers like the Art4Agriculture programs is a great way to get the message across to children. Programs like this not only help build awareness of, and interest in agriculture, they help create a new generation of agricultural-savvy Australians. Some may even choose agricultural careers whilst many others will know more about where their food comes from and appreciate the care and commitment that goes into growing the shirt on their back or putting the steak on their dinner plate. Hopefully Art4Agriculture will be able to spread their programs to all states in Australian and reach more Australian children.

As for my future my biggest challenge starts this year studying Rural Science at the University of New England while hopefully being able to continue writing my blog as well as working on my other two websites Farming Photo’s and Cotton Careers. My major goal in life is to own and run my own mixed cattle and cropping property, while continuing to promote agriculture and bridging the rural urban divide.

 

Congratulations Martin, Art4Agriculture look forward to following your journey. Maybe you might even find the time to join the team for 2013

Four Young Farmers meet Prince Charles

Did you ever dream of meeting a prince???

HRH Prince Charles recently visited Australia and four of our Young Farming Champions met him and had the opportunity to speak with him and share their passion for agriculture 

Today I am reproducing a post from Art4Agriculture Wool Young Farming Champion  Sammi Townsend’s blog Youth in Agtion.  In November last year Sammi was given the opportunity along with three other Art4Agriculture Wool Young Farming Champions to meet and talk to HRH Prince Charles on his recent trip to Australia. One behalf of Art4Agriculture I would like to say a special thanks to Australian Wool Innovation for the amazing opportunities and doors they have opened for their 2012 Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions and we are thrilled they have indicated they are on board again for 2013     

 

Why I Flocked To Sydney This Weekend… 11th November 2012

I was privileged enough to shake hands and mingle with The Prince of Wales who was on one of the final legs of his Australian Tour last week. HRH, who is the Patron for Campaign for Wool, joined wool growers, designers and even 3 merino wethers at an exclusive event atop of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

Left to Right: Art4Ag Young Farming Champions Lauren Crothers, Sammi Townsend and Steph Grills

On the day I proudly sported a woollen garment by local designer Michelle Kent, who is the owner of the boutique label “So Stella” based in Orange.

Founded in 2004 the NSW based fashion business, which offers customers handmade as well as tailor made services, has developed from a business model that has kept a social conscience and integrity at its core. I was most certainly proud to be representing my industry with wool and at the same time supporting a lovely local business!

The event was hosted by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) who kindly invited me as a young wool ambassador to the event to represent the education sector as a part of the Art4Agriculture program. Just as HRH has a role as a Patron for Campaign for Wool to educate people about the versatility of wool in fashion, furnishings and everyday life, my role is to inform Australian metropolitan school students about the agricultural industry with a focus on wool.

Not only did I shake hands with Prince Charles, but also took great pleasure in chatting to him about what the Art4Agriculture program is about. It was a wonderful opportunity to sum up our key messages and inform him of the great things happening in our industry at the moment such as the School’s Merino Wether and Fibre of Our Nation competitions.
Amongst the small crowd present were many designers such as Josh Goot, Dion Lee, Kym Ellery, Camilla Freeman-Topper (of Camilla and Marc) as well as Akira Isogawa who proudly showcased their woollen creations.


Above: One of Kym Ellery’s Designs

A lot of attention was also attracted to the three North Ashrose merino wethers who had travelled 18 hours from South Australia to be displayed at the event.

After the event had wrapped up I made my way to the AWI head office where we mingled over lunch with some key AWI staff who then proceeded to give a number of interesting presentations about their strategic framework, research and development and the marketing of wool.

Campaign For Wool showcase for HRH Prince of Wales

I have been privileged as a young wool ambassador with AWI and Art4Agriculture and most certainly have been able to broaden my networks and establish many connections beyond my own agricultural community thanks to their support. They have given me the confidence to share my story in agriculture so far as well as one of the oldest industries Australia has built itself upon, none other than the wool industry.

Kristie De Pledge shares her story of life on a cattle station in the Pilbara

Today we would like to introduce you to Kristie De Pledge.  Kristie in partnership with her husband Rory and young children are building up a cattle station from scratch in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.  Kristie is very passionate about connecting with consumers and advocating for agriculture.  She has just started a blog to share more about her part of the world: www.koordarriestn.wordpress.com

This is Kristie’s story

Me!!. What about me? What about what I do? What is so interesting about that? Here is my story and you can make up your own mind.

To put it in perspective lets take a little look back and start with my great grandfather George Hutton. George was an Englishman who came upon a sheep station in the shire of Upper Gascoyne, WA, called Mooka Station. He met and married a German girl working nearby and together they made a small home on Mooka, at the foot of the Kennedy Ranges and proceeded to develop their station.

Kennedy Ranges Western Australia

Together they brought 8 children, 7 girls and 1 boy into the world. My grandmother was the youngest of those children and did not receive any formal schooling until she was 8 years old. It was a hard life back then, washing clothes in the copper and a tin of apples was a special treat for Christmas.

My father’s side of the family were farmers from Victoria. My grandparents sold their farm in Victoria to buy a sheep station in the Upper Gascoyne. They drove across the country, with 6 children, 3 dogs and all that they owned on the back of two vehicles.

Victoria to the Gascoyne – a distance of over 4,000km

When they arrived at Mooloo Downs Station, the previous owners left the next day at 3 am. A distance of over 4,000 km.!!! What an amazing challenge for my dad’s family to have undertaken.

Back to me. I am the eldest of 4 children and grew up on a sheep and cattle station called Mt Phillip in the Gascoyne. What a wonderful childhood. So many adventures.

Walking sheep along laneways with mum and my siblings. Playing for hours out in the bush, km’s from home! I remember running home once, to beat a dust storm coming right after us.

Riding our horses through the creeks. Sleeping on the lawn in the summertime because we had no power for 24 hours. We had pet lambs called Rambo and Rocket!

I loved going for walks with my grandmother from Mooka. She knows so much about the flora and passed this love of the bush to me. She is the one who taught me not to be afraid of the bush at night time. This feeling inside me, this fluttering and heart burning feeling when I smell the rain landing on dry sand or move through a mob of cattle that we grow and care for.

Picture taken by Graeme Minchin

The feeling of pride and utter contentment when a job like a new fence or pipeline goes in, how do I explain this? How do I share it with you? No idea, but going to try anyway.

My husband and I now own and run a cattle station in the Shire of Ashburton, West Pilbara, WA.

 

It had been abandoned for 30 years

In June 2010,my husband, Rory and I moved here after clearing a patch of ground, and erecting the barest necessities for life.

These included solar power, water tank and source, staff accommodation in the form of a donga, a shed, two dongas with plans for further work(never-ending actually), fenced house yard for children’s safety and a caravan to sleep in until I got the dongas cleaned up.

Home sweet home. It was a dry year and there was no garden, no lawn, no trees to speak of.

Our property is called Koordarrie and is approximately 127,500 hectares

We run around  4,000 head of Droughtmaster cattle and have a staff of up to 6 people every year, who range from international travellers on rural exchange type programs to Aussies.

A typical day in December is spent checking tanks, fixing pipes, distributing mineral supplements like Beachport lick. At the moment we are also clearing lines for a boundary fence and new pipeline with the bulldozer and grader.

From November to April  we will erect more fences and make water point improvements and undertake general day to day maintenance. We hope for rain that doesn’t always come. Our annual average rainfall is around 11 inches. Based on years of a lot, then a little.

From April through to June –we prepare the fencing, machinery, horses, motorbikes, panels and trucks for mustering. We train our staff for day to day jobs like checking solar pumps and fixing small jobs like pipe leaks, trough float repairs and tyre repairs.

June and July are our really busy months when we begin mustering stock and remove the weaners from cows, and sell saleable cattle. We shift from areas under grazing pressure to areas of property with better ground cover. We are always maintaining our watering points and station plant.

We place a lot of emphasis of careful mothering up, giving the cows and calves plenty of time to reunite and confirm the bond between them after mustering.

From October to early November we complete the mustering and shift cattle for effective management of herd and tidy up loose ends like broken down pumps, troughs and fences, whilst we still have staff

In November we start the summer jobs like fencing off pressure areas or holding paddocks and put up new infrastructure like yards or traps for less intensive labour of stock handling.

When your starting from scratch as we are, money must be carefully spread across the whole of the property, with projects like fencing, watering points and relevant infrastructure, general maintenance, food and fuel always at the front of your mind.

Seeing my own children growing up in this wonderful, experience rich environment fills me with happiness. There are so many amazing things happening within agriculture right now and technology has enabled us to connect with the wider community.

I hope sharing my story shows that there is fun, excitement, sadness, wonderment and satisfaction to be had, right here, right on your doorstep in this beautiful country .