The Voice of the Future

Art4agriculture has a big picture vision for Australia. We want a vibrant, dynamic and innovative food sector that is seen by next gen as a career of first choice.

Art4agriculture is on a crusade to do whatever it takes to create a culture of change at industry level and make investing in our young people the number 1 key performance indicator. We are finding exciting, inspiring young people in agriculture everywhere we look and we love it.

Today’s guest blog comes from Horizon Scholar Ashley Hobbins who is currently undertaking a  Bachelor of Applied Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania

Wet day checking for new calves

Ashley was a PICSE student and has been associated with farming all her life. She would like to work as a teacher in Agriculture, inspiring students to undertake a career in primary industries.

Here is Ashley’s story …….

Agriculture is at the core of everybody’s life but for some people it runs a little deeper, it’s a way of life and an industry which inspires. You don’t have to run a thousand head of cattle or grow hectares of crops to have a passion and drive for this amazing sector which is worth so much but unfortunately unnoticed by so many.

My story begins on a cattle and sheep property in the country side of Victoria where as a child I spent my days following dad around when he fed out hay to livestock or penned up sheep in the shearing shed.bobby calf and me

It is however the city where most of the chapters to my story are written. I love living in the city and being able to walk down to the shops to grab a bargain or getting dressed up for a Saturday night out on the town but to me there is nothing like putting on a pair of old jeans and work boots and spending the day out in the paddock. I am currently in my final year of a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Tasmania and am working towards gaining my Masters of Teaching. It is no secret that the field of agriculture needs more workers and I personally believe that programs such as well-run school farms in high schools create knowledgeable and skilled students ready to enter the workforce or continue further education in agriculture. After working in the industry it is my intention to become a teacher and hopefully inspire students to forge a career in agriculture.

Brooks High School was a major stepping stone for me as it was here that I was introduced to the science behind agriculture and motivated me to pursue the career I am. There are also great programs available such as the Tasmanian Farmers and Grazier’s Discover Agriculture program where I was shown some of the many industries within agriculture and given the opportunity to have a week’s work experience in the dairy industry. I have also been lucky enough to have work experience in the poppy and wine industries as well as government research. There are so many chances for travel within the industry as it is everywhere you go and whilst being involved in the Primary Industries Centre for Science Education program I travelled to Western Australia. I also travelled to Warwick on a Charolais Society sponsored trip where I participated in cattle handling, preparing and judging and was awarded the husbandry award.

1st in handlers

Many people disregard university as an option as it is too expensive but the fact is that there are so many scholarships out there to help budding agricultural scientists. Through the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s Horizon scholarship I have been provided with not only financial support but also a mentor who is there to help me through my degree. I have also had the opportunity to travel to Canberra every year of my degree to build my skills in leadership and meet some great people. This year I also travelled to Sydney on a sponsored trip to participate in the Charlie Arnot workshop.

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Ashley and fellow Horizon Scholars at FFAgOz workshops in Sydney with Charlie Arnot

Winning the Greenham Tasmania scholarship in 2011 saw me having lunch with the Governor of Tasmania and my acceptance speech for the ACAS/Coca Cola scholarship boosted my confidence considerably. The reason why I mention these accolades is to highlight that if you get out there and discover the possibilities there is every chance you can be offered a way and means of getting where you want to be. University is not the only option and I have enjoyed going through the more practical pathway, completing a VET II Certificate in Agriculture before attending college.

Grinding soil samples

There are so many great people in the industry and being involved in extracurricular activities has allowed me to meet some of these people. I’ve been able to talk to students during recent PICSE and TFGA camps as a guest speaker and co-facilitator at the 2012 TFGA Hobart camp, as well as running a workshop at the Growing Your Future 2011 event. Getting involved in our university’s Ag Science Society as secretary has allowed me to interact with industry members.

In addition to work experience I’ve also worked in a shearing shed, cutting vegetables, packing and preparing vegetables and working with beef cattle as well as selling fruit and vegetables. My passion for beef cattle started with showing at high school where I showed Murray Greys, Angus and Charolais cattle. I was then asked to show for a Belted Galloway stud and now show for a Murray Grey stud as well as being involved in the Murray Grey Youth.

There are so many prospects in the agriculture sector and my story is just a snap shot of what opportunities are available. The industry is full of enthusiastic workers from all walks of life and is waiting for even more people to enter the industry and make a difference. So why not take a leap of faith and explore the interesting and amazing sector that is agriculture?!

Back to me. There is no denying that Ashley is a superstar. She sees opportunitities for professional development and she grasps them with both hands and makes life happen for her. Ashley is obviously special but she isnt a one off nor need she be. I get phone calls from young people in agriculture from all around Australia with obvious potential to be another Ashely everyday.

They are out there industry. You just need to invest in them.

A big shout out to Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation for investing in Next Gen though Ashley

When the heart speaks the stars shine

Lucinda Giblett is our latest guest blogger in our endeavour to showcase an emerging and exciting passionate group of people in their 20s and 30s who have chosen farming as a career.

As you will see Lucinda is clearly a deep thinker with a strong social conscience ……

I grew up on the family farm in Manjimup, Western Australia. Think endless pallets of fruit packing trays for cubbies, packing boxes and apple bins for playpens. Study at boarding school, uni, and many years of exotic adventure followed. I guess I had to break free!

In 2008, Dad announced he was converting one of our orchards to organic farming practices. It was a worthy carrot, and a few months later, I was back on sweet home soil and ready to stay.

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I’ve since spent my time learning as much as I can about the complex and challenging business of growing food. Our family business supplies supermarkets, producing 5000 tonnes of apples a year – that’s about an apple a day, all year for every person in our 10,000 strong Shire. I’ve also learnt a lot simply by having a go at growing veggies in my backyard. Along the way, I’ve found a true passion for agriculture and ecology, or if you like, land stewardship.

And many of us already know that generally, humans aren’t taking enough care of the earth right now. Once you dig in, you find the issues are deeply more serious than most care to realise.

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Left: Display of apple biodiversity of Italy’s Piedmonte region, at Turin’s 2010 international Slow Food convention, Terra Madre, which numbered 500 at the beginning of the 20th century. I attended along 5000 other farmers, scholars, students and chefs from over 160 countries.

I was introduced to food security and related issues via my involvement with the international non-profit organisation, Slow Food, as well as industry campaigns against lax biosecurity protocols proposed for apple imports.

Below: Display of 5 dominant apple varieties worldwide today.

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You can’t really begin to understand food security without taking stock of the global picture first. People in countries like Australia have an insatiable appetite to consume, and there are powerful systems in place to perpetuate this paradigm. The emerging middle class in China, India and south-east Asia are keen to follow suit.

We have an apparent ignorance of finite resources (particularly oil and phosphorus), an escalating world populous, increasing climatic variation, vast cities claiming more arable land, less water, declining investment worldwide in agricultural science research, and a host of associated sub plots all of which tell me, and leading commentators I admire such as Julian Cribb, that we are propelling down a very dangerous path.

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A depressing scenario, some might choose to think, but I think we need to look for possibility and opportunity. Rather than being blocked by the enormity of the problem, I think we need to ask, what could we do in our local communities? What small steps could we take to ensure our children have a world worth living in?

My answer is creating a local charity called Stellar Violets, and with my proposal I received runner-up in the 2012 RIRDC WA Rural Women’s Awards. Quite a coup really, considering I only entered after someone overheard me talking about the charity idea, and suggested I give it a go!

Named for my grandmothers, in its conception Stellar Violets honours all the oft unacknowledged matriarchs and raft of skilled women that came before us. I’m acknowledging how relevant their wisdom, tenacity and resilience is for us today, and will be for tomorrow.

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With Stellar Violets, we’ll create opportunities to learn skills in self-reliance, living simply, food production, master and traditional artisan crafts, with a particular focus on environmental stewardship and applying the wisdom of our elders.

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Suiting up to learn BeeKeeping with local master, Curly Aitken, who for years has kept bees on our orchards with his wife Jean.

Our vision is to create the Stellar Violets Experimental Farm to demonstrate self-reliant living and small scale, diversified food production systems based on regenerative agricultural techniques. We’ll invite people from all walks to visit, experience, learn, and contribute.

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I don’t think we can overestimate how valuable being part of a strong, resilient, skilled community is going to be in the coming times. If you think self-reliance, and a holistic, ethical approach to nurturing our communities and country makes good old-fashioned sense, get in touch to share in the Stellar Violets vision.

Note: I’m already on the lookout for skilled volunteers and am also be seeking sponsors for projects. Email me lucinda@stellarviolets.com to find out more, join us on Facebook, or follow our blog, www.stellarviolets.org that’ll become a website later in the year.

Yoghurt comes from trees – dispelling the myths

Agriculture was on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald this morning for all the wrong reasons again.  The article by Saffron Howden highlights the worrying levels of knowledge or lack of, about agriculture in schools

A survey released by Primary Industries Education Foundation shows that student and teacher knowledge of food and fibre production has declined to worrying levels. It is a wake-up call to government says PIEF’s Chair, Dr Cameron Archer.

The survey was undertaken by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER). It reveals that 75 per cent of students thought cotton socks were an animal product and 45 per cent of students could not identify that everyday lunchbox items such as a banana, bread and cheese originated from farms.

Read article by  Saffron Howden

Cultural cringe: schoolchildren can’t see the yoghurt for the trees

Read survey

Now lets be clear statistics like this and the fact that they highlight the disconnect between urban and rural Australia are not new and are not surprising.

What is new is that Agriculture now has a peak education body, the Primary Industries Education Foundation’s who, as part of it’s objectives can provide national leadership and coordination of initiatives to encourage primary industries education in schools through a partnership between industry, government and educators.

As witnessed today agriculture now has an independent provider of credible, relevant and factual information on all matters relating to agriculture for the community who can open all the right doors and get front page news in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The statistics are also not surprising after all Australia is the most urbanised country in the world and as we grow so will the disconnect. It was for exactly this reason that Art4Agriculture and our unique education programs were developed

It is vitally important that we re-connect. The health, wealth and happiness of all Australians depends upon it.   We are a lucky country and as a result food security does not register with most Australians.  As a testament to this our Archibull Prize surveys showed only half of the student participants surveyed in 2011 knew that Australian farmers feed 60 million people. In fact 40% thought Australian farmers ONLY feed 6 million people

Yet the survey further showed the students are not overly concerned about food shortages and instead are most worried about water scarcity and pollution – things they have witnessed first hand. We do not want our young people to be food insecure before they appreciate agriculture and the farmers who grow their food and fibre.

This appreciation will only be achieved if we engage in a 2 way conversations with students and teachers.  We all know that just making resources available for teachers without support and context does not work.  Programs must be engaging, they must put farmers and students together, they must support teachers to expand their learning of agriculture and they must deliver real outcomes that can be shared with a wider audience if we are going to have significant impact.

The survey commissioned  by PIEF and undertaken by ACER highlights the importance of a sustainability message for students in addition to students understanding where there food comes from.

We must get the balance right between food and fibre production and the environment. We must communicate this message and our farmers’ commitment to sustainable and ethical food and fibre production to urban audiences.

In fact sustainability IS the key message in Art4Agriculture’s programs with the theme of the Archibull Prize being “What does it take to feed and clothe your community for a day sustainably”.

All our programs are a true celebration of the people and the places behind the food we eat. They deliver strong rural sustainability messages – not just to the students involved, but also to the wider community. They showcase the positive things farmers are doing and empower them to share their stories. Our activities are genuine, contemporary, engaging, fun and full of hope for a sustainable future.

Agriculture, this survey is yet another wake up call to get behind programs such as Art4Agriculture that promote a “whole of industry vision” and a willingness to engage in two way communication between stakeholders and community.

Footnote:

24 hours after this story hit the new stands there are over 1.7 million links to it on the web worldwide. Embarassing yes but lets not play the blame game. This is a tripartate problem for goverment, industry and education but the solution is already out there and its already happening.

Agriculture now has a peak industry education body and we have cross industry highly successful independent in-school programs like Art4agriculture getting measurable results. The challenge is can we break down the industry silos and work together for the common good

Interested in Australian Agriculture?

Want to know all about Australian cotton farming check out this prize winning Archibull Prize entry from Colo High School

Or see what happens when you take fun and innovative agriculture programs into schools and actively engage with next gen who in turn become your AGvocates and tell Agriculture’s story for you.

Art4Agriculture Presents 2011 Cream of the Crop Finalists

Fast Facts about Australian agriculture

Sourced from the National Farmers Federation Farm Facts 2012

  • Each Australian farmer produces enough food to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 400 overseas
  • Australian farmers produce almost 93 per cent of Australia’s daily domestic food supply.
  • Australia’s major agricultural export markets are China (14 %), Japan (13 %), ASEAN (21 % ), other Asia (16 %), European Union (8 %), Middle East (8 %), United States (7 %) and other (17 %).
  • Australian farmers are environmental stewards, owning, managing and caring for 61 percent of Australia’s land mass.
  • 94 %of Australian farmers actively undertake natural resource management.

We are all in this together

Art4agriculture was conceived because I saw a number of gaps that needed filling and the first need was to put real farmer faces to the produce and give people real farmers they can relate.

Secondly their was a real need to put farmers back in the driving seat and give them a vehicle to tell their story their way.

I was finding more and more our industry messages where being delivered by marketing people who new nothing about the farms and the farmers they were promoting and this was leading to frightening outcomes. Just to give an example Dairy Farmers a very large farmer owned dairy cooperative released a very shiny expensive booklet called “Who we are and what we do” and all of the on farm images in the booklet where of a farmer with beef cattle.

It was no better at Dairy Australia. Six years ago according to the Dairy Australia marketing department Australian Milking Zebus were a major dairy breed in Australia and Jersey cows and Guernsey cows were the same thing. To make matters worse there was a  breed of Australian bred cattle of significant numbers – Aussie Reds – that they had never heard of.

Thirdly Art4agriculture was conceived to give agriculture a strong voice through Next Gen.  Pivotally our Next Gen Young Farming Champions actively acknowledge all primary industries share common and are breaking down the silos that have stagnated agriculture in this country for too long. They have a whole of industry long term collaborative vision and we are currently call for Expressions of interest for our third round of Young Farming Champions who will be trained to go out into their communities and sharing their farming stories to diverse audiences from school students to government ministers at every opportunity

Art4agriculture also recognise there are some phenomenal organisations and people  doing wonderful things to selflessly promote rural and regional and remote Australian communities and their farmers. We have been approached by and now formed partnerships with some of these very exciting organisations and people to cross promote our joint vision and allow us all to punch above our weight for the common good of agriculture and the farmers who feed us.

Art4agriculture’s first partnership was with LandLearn NSW. At that time LandLearn NSW was coordinated by the amazing Carmen Perry from whom the fledgling Art4Agriculture team learnt so much.  We are forever grateful Carmen.

Today LandLearn NSW is run by Carolyn Smith another dynamo with a smile to knock your socks off who is a true treasure to work with.

Art4agriculture is a proud supporting partner of the annual LandLearn NSW Speech Spectacular and what we love about this competition is its provides a clever vehicle for next gen urban to tell and share our farming stories and key messages for us.

Here is a great example.  Grace Mahon is a year 5 student at Jamberoo Public School and this speech “The Environment is What we Eat” has found her a place in the finals on March 15th at Dubbo NSW

Video and images by Art4agriculuture

The overall winner (and for the last two years this has been a primary school student) is given the opportunity to be the guest speaker at the Cream of the Crop Awards and Presentation Day at Sydney Royal Easter Show each year

Last year the winner was Callum Hislop.

The first Speech Spectacular Winner Lachlan Hoyle deliver his speech at the Cream of Crop Awards and Presentation Day in 2010. Lachlan is introduced to the audience by MC Young Farming Champion Alison McIntosh

Check our some of the other 2012  finalist speeches here http://www.landlearnnsw.org.au/students/speech-spectacular/201112-finalists

Very impressive indeed. Australia’s farmers say #thankyouLandlearnNSW and #nextgenurban for helping spread the great story of Australian agriculture

Don’t fence us in

I was recently approached by a film company for some recommendations of young people in the Agrifood sector for “talent” for a series of stories on exciting young Australians. Not knowing a lot about the project I decided to let some exciting young Australians pitch themselves (without knowing) through our blog 

The film company said to me “We don’t just want women” and I said to them Art4Agriculture isn’t a female only organisation by design but we know if we had waited for the male sex to put up their hands to even the numbers Art4Agriculuture wouldn’t exist yet and as “doing” is more important to us than to be “seen to be doing” we just got on with it

So this article today titled Caring professions are being ignored in our awards system in today’s SMH caught my eye.  The first paragraph reads 

Another Australia Day, another round of fireworks and another honours list. Another evocation of the qualities Australia admires and the fields that Australians look up to, from which we can deduce that Australians think the things men do are twice as worthy as the things that women do.

In 2005 I won an award titled “ Kiama Electorate Woman of the Year”  which saw me on the podium a number of times asked to talk on various themes around women’s rights and women’s roles in society. I must admit it wasn’t a space I enjoyed being in. I was a retail pharmacist for 30 years. Women were always the employee of choice and could always command a better wage than men because it was recognised by the owners of pharmacies who were invariably men that “women make the best pharmacists and pharmacist assistants”. In fact I never felt disadvantaged because of my sex in any way in the pharmacy profession. Agriculture is different and in the main I believe this is because too often we define people in agriculture by the number of hours they work and tasks they perform not by how smart they work    

I recently wrote a blog post on the danger of defining something by simply attaching a label to it. This post looked at the demonization of large scale conventional agriculture out of hand 

Often labels elicit strong feelings, I am a baby boomer and soon that will lead to the label “senior citizen”   Please, please rebadge that one before it’s my turn. I like this one “60 is the new 20”.

This post is exploring another label “Women”. I like to read and last Friday when my TV reception went AWOL I read a number of book reviews.  One review “women will enjoy this book” raised my eyebrows (and generated steam)

Wow in the first instance this book must be a publisher’s goldmine with women currently 49.76% of the world’s population.

Secondly as I fit the label by virtue of my sex this review must mean by association I will enjoy this book.  Now I just happen to enjoy crime novels particularly novels by the Scandinavian writers Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum., Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, Stieg Larsson and Arnaldur Indriðason. But this wasn’t a crime novel let alone a Scandinavian crime novel

So here is my personal reflection on the label “women” with respect to recognition of the role of women and gender equity. 

Firstly as a generalisation men and women are different in many ways and that is a good thing. 

Agriculture today still tends to let others pigeon hole women by failing to acknowledge that women farmers are champions not only behind the farmgate but also that they contribute at an unparalleled level in the wider community.

Recent example that comes to mind – “Wanted for Australian Year of the Farmer promotion. Young Male Farmers for Cleo photo-shoot and Rural Women Leaders with recipes for cookbook”

Its undeniably true there are amazing women out there who can hold their own and stand side by side with men driving headers, handling bank managers, drenching livestock , artificially inseminating cattle, birthing calves and the list goes on. Yet they are not acknowledged as “real farmers” because of their sex. This is a travesty and many women are justifiably lobbying hard to change this mindset.  There are also many farming women who are doing equally amazing things beyond the farmgate who are celebrated by the community, but go unrecognised by industry.

I am the current runner up in the National Farm Industry Leader of the Year. After the announcement there were the usual congratulations and commiserations. One of which was “a win would have been great victory for women in agriculture”.   My reply was “yes it would have been a bonus for women but it would have been a great victory for AGvocacy”  

Women have come a long way since the 15th century when marriage was what defined a woman. A woman was who she married. When unmarried, a woman was the property of her father, and once married, she became the property of her husband.

She had few rights, except for any privileges her husband or father gave her. Married women had to obey their husbands and were expected to be chaste, obedient, pleasant, gentle, submissive, and, unless sweet-spoken, silent.  Whew just as well I didn’t live in the 15th century  

Another Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend article showed statistics revealed 40% of children under 10 receive an allowance. Unexplainably boys receive 10% more than girls.   A wise woman once said people treat you how you teach them to treat you

I put it to you gender equity starts in the home with education and awareness from day one.

Bringing up the next generation to value and respect women at all levels will achieve more in one or two generations than the last 500 years of sweat, pain and frustration   

To me and the women I find my self surrounded by in agriculture, awards are one of a number key marketing tools and a platform to assist with our future work.

For example  the media profile that goes with winning an award for me can  

  • Encourage other young farmers, to contact me and be trained as ‘industry champions’ for the Young Farming Champions program
  • Motivate and create the extra impetus for much needed funding and the public and industry support required to engage and raise awareness of the next generation of Australian consumers and decision makers about the pivotal role Australian farmers play in producing our food and fibre and supporting the nation’s economy, community and rural amenity.

If awards are just a competition between various demographics then I wonder if the Sydney Morning Herald worked out the statistics on how many farmers got Australia Day award honours compared to other professions.

Its not what we win that defines us Australia, its what we do. Lets not sweat the small stuff which is such a waste of energy and attracts a carbon tax.     

BTW.  I have asked equal numbers of exciting young men in the Agrifood sector to write me a blog post. To-date I have one. I look forward to your comments on men in agriculture and their propensity to hide behind a bushel  

Behind the Canvas

When artwork judge Wendy Taylor and I began our four day journey to visit each of the schools participating in the 2011 Archibull Prize to judge the artwork category  I made a commitment to write a blog about each school and their bovine canvas.  I didn’t quite finish and it is now time I delivered on the promise to showcase all the schools masterpieces. To help me artwork judge Wendy Taylor has written an artwork analysis for each of the schools based on what the students shared with her about their vision for their “Archies”

 

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Next gen is so clever don’t you think? 

Macarthur Anglican Primary School – Cotton industry

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“Gossie” (derived from the botanical name for cotton) is a bright and colourful exploration of the cotton industry from nose to tail. Most of the school was involved in some form or another in her development – from the design, to the actual work on the cow and across the many research projects and science experiments about the properties of cotton which the school undertook.

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Overlaid over a colourful and tactile patchwork of cotton samples, the rear side of “Gossie” tells the story of the process of cotton – from the planting and the growing of the cotton itself, to the picking and harvesting of the bolls and then to the manufacturing of the cotton into the forms that we recognise. On the front, again overlaid on the tactile cotton patchwork, are some of the many cotton products available in our society today. The story is also told from the tail to the nose of “Gossie”, with growing cotton bolls depicted around the rear legs, the process and products on the two sides, the front legs in actual cotton socks, and the cotton industry logo on the head representing the finished products and the importance of the industry in Australia- the complete circle.

She is finished with the eartag necessary for identification of cattle, which has turned into a coathanger with the Macarthur Anglican School blazer on it (of course it is made from cotton too.)

Caroline Chisholm College – Beef industry

Caroline Chisholm College

“Moobix Cube” was designed and created by five different classes (around 100 students) from Caroline Chisholm College. Using the easily recognisable form of a “rubik’s cube” as the base, they create an effective way to showcase the many differing facets of the beef industry. Whilst a traditional rubik’s cube rotates, this one is composed of a series of smaller cubes on either side of the main cube, which can be pulled out, turned around to a new side and then slotted back into position. Once all of the smaller cubes have been turned around to a new side and replaced, a new picture is then formed.

A total of eleven components of the beef industry as well as “how we can feed Sydney for a day” are represented on this interactive cube. Each section of the cube tells a different side of the beef and food story – from the genetics and selective breeding of beef cattle, to beef products including their medical uses, to the environment (touching on both water security and ideal conditions), to facts and figures, as well as the differing personal experiences that the school has had with the beef industry. All combined onto the one cow.

Cranebrook High School – Sheep industry

“Daisy” and “Ben” represent the two quite different but still interconnected, faces of the sheep industry in Australia as seen by the students of Cranebrook High School. The two calves were designed and created by eight agriculture and art classes ranging from Year 8 to Year 10 students. One calf shows the wool components of the industry, whilst the other depicts the meat components.

“Daisy” is the face of the meat component of the sheep industry. She takes the idea of ‘paddock to plate’ to a very sculptural conclusion. The rear side of “Daisy” shows a three-dimensional tableau of scenic pastoral land, dotted with animals on the ‘tablecloth’ of grass. The front side of “Daisy” shows the final product. It depicts a three-dimensional table, complete with its own chequered tablecloth and food.

“Ben” is the face of the wool component of the sheep industry. He is colourful, tactile and informative. The base layer is a colourful patchwork of woollen squares stitched together and then overlaid with imagery of the implements, the processes and the products used in the wool industry in Australia. Wrapped intricately around and over all of this is the woollen cord which ties it all together.

Richmond High School – Beef industry

“Pattie” was designed and created primarily by a group of Year 11 Art students from Richmond High School and was designed to be able to be shown both indoors and outdoors. She is a colourful and tactile homage to the beef industry in Australia and depicts a remarkably unique interpretation of this industry. She was designed to have a high level of simplicity and clarity.

With a detailed and intricately realistic painted head, she then progresses down the neck to a very flat and colourful base layer of bright red. This ‘stripped down’ base layer, without being graphic or losing the intrinsic simplicity which is “Pattie”, echoes the primary function of the beef industry, which is to provide meat. This flat, bright red colour also contrasts, and in turn highlights, the overlaid patches of tactile green grass which depict the primary meat cuts commonly found on a cow. The grass patches also form a quirky intellectual play as it is the grass which is eaten by the cow which forms the meat itself.

Colo High School – Cotton industry

“Threads” showcases two facets of the cotton industry in two very unique ways, all wrapped up and depicted in a manner which is familiar to us all – washing hanging on the clothes line. The two facets are the growing and manufacturing of the cotton itself as well as some of the final products commonly found in homes throughout Australia. “Threads” was designed and created by a wide range of classes at Colo High School, including a combination of art, agriculture and sustainability classes.

Colo High School

On the outside, “Threads” is simply a cow which has crashed though a washing line, becoming entangled in the washing itself. This washing represents a portion of the variety of cotton products available today to the wider Australian public -Cotton in the recognisable form that we know it. However, “Threads” has an inner, hidden story as well.

 

Colo High School  (2)

The interior of the cow literally opens up to depict imagery of a very different scale and style. It highlights the growing and manufacture of cotton, the divide between the city and the country, as well as the water required by the cotton industry and the people it provides for. Centred on the inside of “Threads” a heart made from cotton is hanging.

Hurlstone Agricultural High School – Cotton industry

“imoo” looks at the cotton industry from a very different viewpoint. The creative group of students from Hurlstone Agricultural High School have chosen not to show the cotton industry through simply pictorial methods. They have chosen to show both cotton and the additional theme of “What it takes to feed and clothe Sydney for a day” through multi media.

Hurlstone Agricultural High School

“imoo” is in fact, different in many ways. Firstly, there is no fibreglass cow underneath its delicate cotton shell -it is simply stiffened layers of cotton. It has a palette of colour which has been limited strictly to white, as well as an intricate, tactile quality. “imoo’s” stiff cotton base has been overlaid with 26 soft patches of hand-sewn embroidery depicting various agricultural products and has also been hand-stitched together into panels positioned primarily according to the sections of an animal that dairy cows are judged on. This tactile, bespoke and quite traditionally-styled pared-back base has then been overlaid by modern technology in the form of 10 ipads. It is these ipads, containing a collection of interactive discussions and interviews about both of the themes, which tell the story. Not only do they tell the initial story, but they can gather both imagery and further stories as time progresses.

Rouse Hill Anglican College – Dairy industry

“Mootilda” is quite simply a tale of two sides. The story told, the imagery depicted, the colour palette and the emotions evoked create a stark contrast between the two sides. Good versus bad. Healthy versus unhealthy. Sustainable versus unsustainable. She was created by nine students from Years 7 to 10, who were primarily Art students.

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The front side is lush and green. A harmonious balance is created between the idyllic rural areas and the pleasant and contented urban areas. Milk comes straight from the cow to provide for the city. Everyone is smiling.

Rouse Hill Anglican

The reverse side of “Mootilda” shows life in an unbalanced way. The city and suburban areas have taken over and the once lush pastures have given way and become just one of many new, monochromatic suburban subdivisions. The green base is dirty and polluted. A ‘tidal wave’ of milk is required and there are no cows to provide it. No-one is smiling. In fact, there is no-one there at all.

Schofield Primary School – Dairy industry

“Milky Way” is fun, colourful and interesting. She was designed and created by 85 students from Schofield Primary School. Each and every one of them contributed their own little bits to the process and to the final product, while the entire school learnt about the dairy industry along with them, during their library times.

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“Milky Way” shows the trail of dairy products and the processes of the dairy industry from ‘paddock to latte’, in three dimensional figures down the centre of her back from head to tail. Each of the components of the process is connected to each other by a series of bridges. This imagery of bridges then connects with the wording depicted on her sides – ‘bridging the rural urban divide’. To highlight these words, the students have used ’bling’ (in their words) to catch your attention and to make you smile. “Milky Way’s” face is completed with beautiful red lips and a big smile.

Terra Sancta College – Beef industry

“Koorina” is aboriginal for “to fly”. The name along with the wings on her back and the signage around her neck, are there to emphasise the students desire to promote the fact that ‘we don’t live on air alone’ – that more is required, a lot more. “Koorina” was designed and created by agriculture classes from Terra Sancta College.

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The front side of “Koorina” shows the trail of the beef industry from ‘paddock to plate’. The cows are travelling in a herd from country to the city and straight into one of the most recognisable icons of Sydney – the Luna Park face. This also highlights the staggering number of cows it takes to feed Sydney for just one day.

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The rear side of “Koorina” depicts a number of facts and diagrams relevant to the beef industry in Australia. The two different sides are connected by a road network running from nose to tail, with various highway and distance signs along the way. It is this network that the beef industry relies on extensively. “Koorina’s” eyes each reflect the opposite of each other – one country and the other city.

Quakers Hill High School – Grains industry

“Bessie” was designed, sculpted and painted by Art students from Quakers Hill High School. The initial concept was based around the artistic styling of Reg Mombasa and the Mambo label. The quirky, fun and colourful representation of a toaster complete with toast has an instant recognisability and connection to the grains industry.

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The imagery cleverly portrayed around the surface of the toaster depicts various facets of the grain industry, all supported on imagery down the legs of “Bessie” of wheat, which is the foundation of the industry. The front side is primarily depicts the processing side of the industry, while the back concentrates on the rural to urban aspects. On the toast popping up from the toaster, there are facts and figures which talk about some of the staggering quantities of products and resources required to feed Sydney.

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Around the toaster can be found the easily recognisable and distinct features commonly found on all toasters – the control buttons and the power cord (which has become the tail of “Bessie”) all completed in the distinctive ‘Mambo’ style.

Windsor Primary School – Dairy industry

“Winnie” was designed and created by a range of students from Windsor Primary School. Kindergarten students started the coloured base, while students from Year 3 and Year 5 completed her.

Trailing around both sides of “Winnie” is a series of quirky cartoon characters, designed and painted by the Year 5 students, on the lush, green base. These characters represent the process of the dairy industry – from the farmer and the cow waving goodbye to their milk as it leaves the farm and becoming the common dairy products that we know today (yoghurt, cheese, butter and ice cream).

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Around the hooves of “Winnie” the signatures of the primary children involved in the process and their teacher can be seen (because all good artist’s sign their own work).

Muirfield High School – Grain industry

“Cowlie Moonogue” has two very different sides to her. One is a simple, sculptural statement of a common product, while the other is a complex pictorial made from the products themselves.

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The front side of “Cowlie Moonogue” shows a three dimensional ‘local’ hamburger-with-the-lot. It incorporates annotations for the origins of all of the products and the distances each one may have travelled. This is shown on a background of images associated with social media, as the students felt that that was one way that modern society could start to bridge the gap between rural and urban communities.

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The rear side of “Cowlie Moonogue” is a pictorial of Sydney Harbour primarily made from the products themselves. This is representing “what it takes to feed Sydney” – the Opera House has become a serving of Nachos, the ferries on the harbour are rice bowls and the city is bread.

“Cowlie Moonogue” is standing on a piece of highway –a ‘road base’. This represents the journey which products take, from country to city, to feed us all, and is highlighted by her having her own license plate.

Model Farms High School – Dairy industry

“Bessie” is a whimsical, fairytale-inspired depiction of the Dairy industry as designed and created by the clever students of Model Farms High School. She shows strong stylistic links to the artwork of both Reg Mombasa (Mambo) and Keith Haring, while still leaving the viewer in no doubt as to which industry she is showcasing.

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The front side of “Bessie” is lush, green and inviting, as well as slightly unusual. It shows subtle, stencilled imagery of cattle collaged into idyllic pastures and surrounded by trees and fencing (unusually depicted as being made from the products of the dairy industry itself – ice creams, cheese etc.) The rear side of “Bessie” shows even more flights of fancy as it concentrates on the industry and the process of milk production itself.

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The milk produced is then funnelled through various channels, down the legs and tubing to the waiting, hungry city below, which needs a huge amount of milk just to keep it going.

St Michael’s Primary School – Sheep industry

“Woolly Jumpers” was designed and created by students from Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 from St Michael’s Primary School. They took their research work very seriously and became quite knowledgeable about the sheep industry in Australia, as well as wool itself, its common uses and its scientific properties.

“Woolly Jumpers” is very tactile and very informative and there is no doubt that it belongs to the sheep industry. The front shows the wool industry and the sequence of processes for wool from paddock to the world. It shows many of the countries we export wool to and their relative size and importance to Australia’s wool industry.

The rear side of “Woolly Jumpers” talks about sustainability, about how wool can be used, the properties of wool, as well as numerous images of modern communication items. The latter shows one method which the students (who were previously unaware that the rural sector used these) felt could bridge between rural and urban communities.

Crestwood High School – Sheep industry

“Blossom” was designed and created by around 10 students from Years 8 and 9 from Crestwood High School who requested to be part of the project. She is bright, colourful and informative.

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4 sides of Blossom

On the rear side of “Blossom,” the process from farm through shearing and then manufacture and to the product itself is shown with simplicity and clarity. On the front side of “Blossom” an unbalanced society is represented. The number of houses and developments outweighs the minimal numbers of farms in today’s society.

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Connecting the two sides (rural to urban) is a bridge. The bridge echoes each side in its styling. On the rural side (the rear), the bridge is timber, clean and traditional. On the front side, the bridge has graffiti and rubbish. Travelling on the bridge there are also trucks transporting the products to the city. On the top of one truck is a subtle dedication to the ABC reporter Paul Lockyer, who died recently and was an advocate for this message.

Castle Hill High School – Dairy Industry

“Charlie” was designed and created by a small but dedicated team of students from Castle Hill High School. One of only two ‘reclining’ cows given to schools in this year’s competition, the students faced unique issues.

“Charlie” has characteristics drawn from a number of areas. The name is inspired by “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” and also from the imagery of Tim Burton. When connected together with the Dairy industry, they have combined to form a “Mad Hatter’s Milk Party”.

“Charlie” has a base comprised of a brightly coloured, chequered tablecloth overlaid with a collection of patterned teacups, milk bottles and spilt milk. Surrounding this are many facts and figures associated with the dairy industry, as well as a combination of aboriginal imagery, items of modern technology and colourful ‘paint splats’ (following the imagery of the spilt milk).

Northholm Grammar School – Grains industry

“Miss Bits” is a tale of two very different sides, as seen in a number of the entries in this year’s competition. However, “Miss Bits” and the students from Northholm Grammar have taken a very different path.

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“Miss Bits” is dressed on her front side in clothes representing the stereotypical imagery of rural communities. The denim overalls and chequered shirt have then been overlaid with the imagery and logos of many of the commonly known and easily recognisable end products of the grains industry in Australia today. This play of showing the beginning of the process and end destination in the grain industry is also replicated on the rear side of “Miss Bits,” though it is shown in reverse. She is dressed on this side in ‘city clothes’ (the ubiquitous black suit) representing the final destination of the products, with imagery overlaid showing the initial growing stages of a number of grain plants.

The two sides of “Miss Bits” are connected through a tactile trail on her head and tail of actual grain seeds, and through a trail down the centre of her back with the names of a number of the common grains used in Australia.

St Ignatius College – Grain industry

“Betsy” was designed and created by a team of around 30 students from St Ignatius College. She shows an intricate and informative look into the grain industry in Australia.

The front side of “Betsy” shows a detailed pictorial from country to city. The intricate patchwork of the landscape is supported on legs covered in wheat, the foundation of the grain industry today. This side also highlights a number of pertinent facts and figures relating to what it takes to feed Sydney for a day.

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The rear side of “Betsy” shows a number of different facets of the grain industry in Australia. It shows the manufacturing process of turning raw grains into useable end products, as well as imagery of the end products themselves. In the centre is a map of Australia showing the primary grain growing areas of Australia as well as the major ports for the export of the grain, as this is a major component of the industry.

The two sides of “Betsy” are connected by a rail network (the primary method in Australia of transporting grains) running straight up her spine from the rural areas at her tail to the city at her head.

Mt Druitt Tutorial Centre – Poultry industry

“Chickcow” was designed and created by Year 8, 9 and 10 students from Mount Druitt Tutorial Centre. However, most of the school was involved in some form or another, particularly through art classes and cooking classes.

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“Chickcow” definitely shows off the poultry industry of Australia, with its easily recognisable sculptural head, tail and feet. It has both tactile and painted feathers as well as many little ‘info-feathers’ showing facts about the industry, about what it takes to feed Sydney for a day as well as a strong sustainability message. The best part of this cow however, is hiding underneath. Nestled beneath “Chickcow” is a precious clutch of hatching ‘chickcowlets’. Their shells have broken open to reveal the fluffy and googly-eyed little babies that will become “chickcows” themselves.

This cow was so precious to the school that they couldn’t bring themselves to pierce its ear for the earrings they wanted it to have so they had to come up with plan B, which you have to admit is great, clip-on egg rings!

Alice Betteridge School – Grains industry

“Betsy” is a very different type of entry into the Archibull Prize than the entry put forward by Alice Betteridge School last year. While last year their entry was very tactile, with differing textures, finishes and built out areas, this year they have completed a very simple and elegant collage of relevant pictures. They found that because the children couldn’t feel the difference in the components, they wanted to know what each picture was and its relevance. They therefore had a much more complete learning experience. It is fascinating what the children can tell you about the pictures without being able to see them

Alice Betteridge front.

“Betsy” has a collage of pictures at her head, showing a collection of rural images based around grain growing in Australia. At the rear, another collection of pictures shows urban images and a variety of grain based products. In the centre, linking the two collages is a band of water with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge connecting the two sides. Overlaid across the Harbour Bridge are images of the manufacturing process of grain -turning grains into the final products we know.

Alice Betteridge back

“Betsy” is highlighted throughout with bands of gold colouring. This echoes the ideas of ‘fields of gold’ being the paddocks growing grain, but also shows the importance of the grain industry to Australia.

When NO means almost YES

My name is Lynne Strong and I am the National Program Director of Art4Agriculutre

Art4Agriculture is now an Australia wide network of young people growing rapidly each day. We are passionate industry advocates dedicated to bridging the urban/rural divide.

We initiate and promote programs showcasing the people and places behind the food we eat, encouraging students into farming and strengthening ties between the city and country.

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Our programs are a truly innovative way of tapping into youth culture and enthusiasm for the arts.

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They are a fun way to explain the importance of a sustainable agricultural landscape and culture to our urban community and neighbours.

Through our public displays we have been able to give next gen farmers and next gen youth a voice by taking Art4Agriculture programs out of the classroom, onto to world wide web and into to the streets including big events like the Sydney Royal Easter where the bovine artworks and the students social media resources have been viewed by tens of thousands of people.

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I am so proud of and so honoured to with work with the Art4agriculture team of inspiring young Australians who love agriculture and their careers and want to shout it from the rooftops

I was recently asked to do a guest blog post for another blogger under the theme “what drives me”  Over the years may different things have driven me and at times turned my life into a crusade

Today it is fostering opportunities, opening doors, challenging the process, stalking, or  whatever it takes for agriculture to genuinely invest in its young people

I have always found my forte in business as “filling the gap” which to me means I identify the skills and knowledge that the business lacks to function at its highest level and outsource them. Sometimes that person is me. However I believe good business practice is working smarter not harder and I know there are a lot of people out there who have skills and talents I don’t have and I make it my business to find them and surround my team with them

When I returned full time to agriculture 10 years ago I saw some very big gaps that needed filling and elephants in the room that were being ignored at agricultures peril.

The obvious one of course is the consumer. Yes those people we ( farmers) get up every day and work our butts off to produce food for.

Agriculture had been ignoring the most important person in the food value chain for so long, food to the wider community has become all about cooking and eating and recipes and restaurants with little attention paid to the origin of the key ingredients or the land that produces it and the hands that grow it

Now anyone who has spent even a short time in retail let alone 30 years knows the customer is the lifeblood of your business and ignoring your customer’s wants and needs is a business death knell.

When I asked at my industry meetings why farmers weren’t actively engaging with their customers, the farmers in the room invariably said “I am too busy”

My family dairy and yes dairy farmers work long hours but so too do a hell of other people. I know a lot of people who rise at 4am in the morning and don’t get home till 10 at night and they don’t dairy or even farm. They don’t walk around with “I am too busy” badges of honour on their lapel either

So I put up my hand to fill this gap and found the dairy industry in general in NSW was very happy to let me do it alone.

So began my journey for the dairy industry to start two ways conversations with consumers to build lifelong relationships with our customers.

Working initially on the principle the best committee is a committee of one the first and most important thing to do was decide the best demographic to pitch to.

That was the easiest part of the journey. School students are the key. They are our next gen consumers, decision makers, potential competitors for our natural resources as well as our future workforce

I also knew the key to success at the farmgate was inspiring farmers to share the vision so I went searching for people and programs that were resonating with dairy farmers

I came across a program created by an amazing group of dairy farmers who belonged to the Strzlecki Lions Club. The program Cows Create Careerswas run by two superb people John Hutchison and Deanne Kennedy of Jaydee Events and by this time was being funded by Dairy Australia.

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John Hutchison and Deanne Kennedy @ Sydney Royal Easter Show

This secondary school program was rolling out in Victoria only but John and Deanne had trialled it successfully in one NSW school at the invitation of NSW dairy farmer Jane Sherborne

John and Deanne were a breath of fresh air and visionaries but no amount of lobbying at Dairy Australia could convince them to move the program out of Victoria so we came up with another plan and put in an application to IMB Foundation for $30,000 to bring Cows Create Careers to NSW. Excitingly the IMB Foundation shared our vision and the success of the program in NSW has resulted in a domino effect with Cows Create Careers rolling out across Australia

And what an amazing grass roots initiative it is and I for one have found employees through the program and what a great job one of those young people, Emma is doing advertising the program free gratis on behalf of Dairy Australia. Including this YouTube video which has over 14,000 web hits

 

Like me, John and Deanne were keen to build on the success of Cows Create Careers and we began our search for a program for primary schools students. We knew interest in agriculture and its careers starts early in a child’s development in primary school and develops through the entire schooling experience. In addition, decisions around primary industries and agribusiness careers are heavily influenced by parents and teachers, most of whom have very little knowledge of contemporary farming.

After trawling the web and talking to lots of bright minds I came up with the idea for “Picasso Cows” which in turn became the inspiration for Art4agriculture’s Archibull Prize. John and Deane loved it and we created a complete primary school program based on painted cows to tell the story of sustainable dairying using  the Cows Create Careers model.

I found funding to pilot Picasso Cows (special thank you to Kiama Council for believing in me and providing seed funding) in 4 NSW schools in 2007 and a further 10 schools in 2008. The students’ artworks were mind blowing and certainly convinced Dairy Australia that it would be smart of them to fund Picasso Cows nationally going forward

 

One of the exciting side benefits of Picasso Cows is it attracted new and different kinds of young people to agriculture. So I decided to harness all of this energy into what is now Art4Agriculture.

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By this time I had recognised three things

1. The Australian dairy industry was entrenched in silo thinking and it would take a tsunami of people to change this paradigm.

2. Teachers are the key. Reaching and influencing Australia’s 286,000 teachers is a massive task. Yet most school based initiatives aiming to incorporate primary industry contexts into the classroom have failed because they are poorly conceived, too narrowly focused (to one specific industry sector for example), under-resourced, have no or inadequate teacher professional learning components to the activities, or are not designed with teachers’ needs, capabilities and capacities in mind.

3. Encouragingly, many primary industries have a strong desire to better engage with the education sector and actively acknowledge effective engagement requires acceptance of a comprehensive and collaborative vision.

So art4agriculuture began a new and exciting journey partnering and collaborating with education, like-minded farmers, like minded primary industries, with the supply chain, corporates, government and the community.

So what drives me? Some people say I am one of those people to whom no means almost yes and when one door shuts I know another will open if I maintain the rage.

But whilst that may be true its inspirational people who drive me. I love doers. I love people who get up every day and want to make a difference. These people never ever use the words “too busy”. If something needs doing or something needs to change then they find the time to make it happen.

I salute all the people who have made Art4agriculuture the success it is today. I salute those industries who have put their hand up and invested their money in our Young Farming Champions.

I salute all those wonderful farmers and agriculture advocates who give us encouragement and support and open doors for us.

I salute the students and teachers who tell the real story of Australian agriculture through their artworks and social media resources

You drive me

Meet Krissy Riley the Flying Governess

Imagine living three hours from a town. Three hours if there is an emergency. Three hours from a pub. Well I live three hours away from all of these things.

My name is Krissy Riley and I live and work on a cattle station in the Kimberley. Three hours from anything.

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Two years ago, I was a swimming teacher in a Queensland mining town, I was paying $500 a week rent and spending a fortune just living. I was always on my phone. I was reliant on technology to get by in everyday life. I would spend $10 on a gossip magazine, which I would read while eating my microwave dinner. Full of protein and toxic goodness. Was this the life I wanted to live?

I needed some direction. I Googled and I Binged. And I stumbled across a website called www.governessaustralia.com I decided to upload my resume, sit back and wait.
I was not prepared for what happened next. Within three days I got over 30 job offers from all over Australia.

But none of the jobs felt right. Until one day I received a phone call that changed my life.
It was from a woman called Helen, from Anna Plains cattle station, three hours from Broome. She was very polite and got straight to the point. I would be teaching two children School of the Air. metimandjo

And then she put the children on the phone.I decided right then that I would take the job.
I had never lived or worked on a cattle station before. Flying across the country, I knew this was going to be a big change. I was so nervous. Words can’t explain how I felt that day.

My job turned out to be amazing. It was so fulfilling. Helping two young children learn was truly satisfying. I got to watch them grow and become young adults. They were picking up on my jokes and my sense of humour.

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The months past at Anna, and I had slowly come to terms that I no longer had mobile reception. I was reading books instead of watching TV. I was listening to triple j instead of mainstream radio. I was enjoying life!
But when animal cruelty in Indonesia’s abattoirs forced the Australian government to shut down live exports, Anna Plains’ employees feared for their jobs.

And while the station, which musters thousands of head of cattle by helicopter, might seem larger than life, last year it was brought to its knees.

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There was a lot of the anxiety on the station during the live export suspension. It was a pretty scary time, you think you’re going to lose your job, your home.

We did stop mustering for about a month, we were going to rallies in Broome, speaking to the members of parliament, trying to really push, say that it wasn’t our fault

It was very difficult to explain to the children who lived on the station what was happening. It is their home, their livelihood basically, being pretty much shunned in front of them.

The station is now back up to normal, although I think many people have been affected. I know a lot of people would have lost their jobs: a lot of jillaroos, jackaroos, ringers, things like that, and it’s obviously going to affect a lot of young people out there.

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Two years on, moving here, three hours from anywhere, I still believe it is best thing I had ever done!

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OPPORTUNITES GALORE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING IN RURAL REGIONAL AND REMOTE AUSTRALIA

Krissy was one of 33 young Australians who were selected to participate in the 2012 Heywire Regional Youth Summit which takes place over six days each February. Young Heywire winners aged 16 – 22 fly in from all over the country to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for an all-expenses-paid week where they discuss ideas, walk the corridors of power and make life-long friendships.

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Each Heywirer represents a rural or regional pocket of Australia, and was chosen to attend on the strength of their written, video, audio or photographic stories that they shared on this website.

Over the week the Heywirers do heaps of activities, some important and serious, others just plain fun. The week includes a reception at Parliament House, a visit to the Australian War Memorial, optional sporting activities at the AIS, a tour of ABC Canberra (including a chance to sit at the news desk!), and the Heywire No Talent Quest.

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There are plenty of optional sporty activities too, like touring the AIS, visiting the Sportex museum and even using the professional training facilities at the AIS alongside elite athletes.

The Heywire Regional Youth Summit is a chance for the participants to develop outstanding ideas and proposals that will create change in their local communities.

Krissy and her Heywire team of Melody Pedlar, Alyssa Allen and Emma Visser are hoping to create a website that is a one-stop shop for information on rural issues.

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“I’m working with a group I met at the Heywire Summit that’s raising awareness about agricultural communities, what you can do, what jobs are out there and what education is available. For instance, if you’re doing School of the Air and you want to do extra courses, you can go there and click on the education link and check it out and see what’s available.” said Krissy

Their website which will be called “AGregate” would also help show careers in the Agrifood Sector as a viable career option that people might not know about.

Hear the girls present the AGregate team pitch here

Creative Cowboys

 

Today we feature the outstanding and multi-talented Queensland farmer and artist Annabel Tully

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Annabel Tully painting with her “easel” on her homeland “Bunginderry” in Qld’s Channel Country

Firstly a little background

Art4Agriculture is an independent, non-political, partnership focused, not for profit grass roots organisation. We deliver programs designed by farmers for farmers that focus on youth, careers, the community, the environment and the arts and link all of these back to agriculture

We only work with organisations who partner for the common good of agriculture.

In 2011 RIRDC provided seed funding to get our Young Farming Champions program off the ground. What a watershed moment that has proved to be for the future of food security in this country.   

RIRDC have a number of initiatives that nurture rural and regional talent and one of these is the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award

To me this award identifies outstanding rural women in each state of Australia who day-in and day-out perform with flare, dedication and success resulting in creating growth and well-being for their own businesses, their communities and organisations they belong to.

Each winner has identified an exceptional community or industry good program they wish to undertake and the award provides them with funding and a support network to bring their vision to fruition.

Just by being nominated for an award is a tremendous boost for any individual or team program. Its says “We think you are equal to or better than the very best in the country”

Having participated in a number of award processes I know there are many positive flow on effects.  Art4agriculture have been awarded grants and contracts and our Young Farming Champions have received opportunities of a lifetime as a result of the attention focused on successful award entries.

Art4agriculutre has now formed a partnership with Annabel Tully who shares our commitment to deliver the best outcomes for agriculture at every turn

You can see why Annabel lights our fire by reading her story here

I’ve just been on the most incredible journey…….

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No it’s not Nepal, Cambodia or the Greek Isles, I’ve just spent the last 12 months being a part of the Rural Industries Research Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Awards process in Queensland. (It does go national) I am thrilled to say I am a finalist headed for a big interview process in Brisbane next month. This journey of self-reflection has really nailed down for me exactly why I have a fire in my belly about anything rural and remote and what am I going to do with it?

So a little on my background… I’m a woman (for starters), a wife, a mother, a farmer, a teacher , an artist and an advocate for our bush way of life. For many years I have put my hand up for anything that had a farming or arts touch to it. But what really keeps that fire burning, is the people, without us, there is no agriculture. Sounds pretty simple, if not, stupid, I know, but when we are confronted with all the pressures of contemporary agriculture…..environment, global food security, financial pressures of feeding and educating another generation… blah blah blah…. the people part of agriculture is something I am not willing to forget. Let me share this journey with you if I may be so bold as to ask for a moment or 2 of your precious time???

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So my pitch for the Awards is a project I call “Creative Cowboys.” Come one, come all!

I’m offering an opportunity for fun and laughter and a reason to connect with the person standing next to you. I plan to offer all-inclusive arts based activities for people living in farming communities – yes even those who can’t even draw a stick figure! The aim is to offer some respite for farmers, a no man’s land where we you may chat to the stranger next to you about not very much at all, and that’s the whole point.

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Annabel Tully 2011 Tongalderry Channels (wet) Oil, pigment and found ochre on linen

Bushies are a resilient mob, a humble mob, a sometimes quiet and unassuming mob. We are faced with many challenges, and this is what brings the enormous rewards and our determination to stay. We problem solve, more often than not, without the assistance of others. But without the people, there is no agriculture. So I aim to offer a little respite, a shady tent at a field day or rodeo, if you like, where friends, neighbours and strangers can come together and have some fun, a little calm before the next storm. Because if you are a bushie, you know what I’m talking about…. there will be a next time, not so far in the future, when we will need to band together for survival.

Whether I am successful in my bid for the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award bursary for this project is not the end of this journey. I’ve already reached my destination. The process of simply applying for the awards has enabled me to realise what my skills are and how I can make a difference. I am clear about my role in this glorious life I lead in the bush. Are you?

You can read more about and/or contact Annabel here

web: www.annabeltully.com

email:  info@annabeltully.com

Margaret Rivers’ Cate Blanchett goes back to her roots

Our blog today features next gen superstar Joanna Wren. Joanna was WA Trainee of the Year in 2008 and is currently a fellow Agrifood Skills’ Ambassador with Art4Agriculture’s Lynne Strong and Hollie Baillieu

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Joanna Wren – photograph by Stephen Blakeney (see footnote)

Joanna has had a very diverse career pathway that has led her back to her roots, from a Bachelor Arts and a love of television and theatre to her passion for horticulture and a strong understanding of the employment and environmental challenges the industry faces, Joanna is committed to becoming a leader in her field. Joanna runs own her business Sunshine Produce, in partnership with her brother. When not getting her hands dirty in the market garden, Joanna enjoys developing her artistic talents as a member of the Margaret River Theatre Company

This is Joanna’s story straight from the heart…….

I come from a farming family and loved growing up on the farm

Over the years my family have grazed both cattle and sheep and for as long as I can remember Dad and Mum have grown vegetables commercially.converted_81

‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I used to spend weekends and holidays planting cauliflowers, weeding capsicums and pruning tomatoes, not really even realising at the time that I was gaining new knowledge and skills every season I worked.

Whilst I loved the farm I also have a real love and passion for theatre and film and television and chose to study a Bachelor of Arts at Perth University. After spending four years living in Perth as part of my degree I realised that I really missed the country and made the decision to take a city break and move back home for six months and work with Dad growing vegetables. But six months turned into eight which turned into twelve and I have now been back down on the farm for over four years. I found not only did I really enjoy growing vegies, but that the skills that I had gained from growing up in the farm environment had never left me. I was hooked and wanted to learn more and so I did a Certificate IV Traineeship with my parents business “Wren’s Vegie Patch”

Picture1

‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

When it was time to look at a career path for me, I never really looked at a VET pathway in horticulture or agriculture as an option but now as I reflect on my Traineeship I can really clearly see how suitable training can not only make you “work ready” it can have such a positive effect on an individual’s life. Not only did I gain more practical skills and increased my knowledge of production horticulture but with my growing confidence I took on more responsibilities within the business (with fantastic encouragement from my parents) which included other things such as supervising and training staff and marketing.

Jo on tractor

‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I was lucky enough to win the 2008 Trainee of the Year award at the WA Training Awards and with my prize money started my own little business which focused on growing smaller amounts of mixed vegetables for the local market. Not long after I formed a business partnership with my brother and together we now run Sunshine Produce, a production horticulture business in the South West corner of Western Australia. Based in the Margaret River region, we produce cauliflowers, tomatoes and pumpkins for the domestic Perth Market.

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‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I have still kept my interest in promoting local food and am always working to expand our local sales. And when I’m not harvesting, packing, irrigating, weeding, fertilising, working on the accounts, handling orders or sleeping, I am to be found working on a value added product that I’ve developed – a yummy pasta sauce using my own vine ripened tomatoes. At this stage it is just a small side project, but I’m hoping to see it grow to bigger volumes.

Back in 2008, I also got my training and assessing qualifications which enabled me to begin training other people in Horticulture at the South West Institute of Technology in Margaret River.

Jo Wren teaching

I really see the importance in having clear and relevant training pathways available to young people in horticulture so that they can see where their training is taking them. And I also see the need for practical, flexible and no-nonsense training for my industry and I try to reflect that as best as I can in my training programs.

I recently was appointed as an AgriFood Skills Australia Ambassador and it has been such a wonderful experience to be given the chance to represent my Industry at a National level. I have also really enjoyed spending time with the other seven Ambassadors who are from all across Australia and from all different Agriculture backgrounds and I can’t begin to describe how inspiring it is to be surrounded by these people who are so passionate about promoting Australian Agriculture and encouraging more people to become involved in such a fantastic and varied industry.

Now don’t get me wrong, growing vegetables can be ridiculously hard work and is definitely not for everyone. During the peak season of January through to May I work seven days a week and with a busy harvest a twelve hour day is not unusual, and is in fact commonplace. It can also be heartbreaking, we’ve had a whole crop wiped out by a freak hailstorm, complete plantings of cauliflowers destroyed overnight by rabbits and roos, it sounds dramatic but with vegetable growing a single day can make or break a season. But yet there’s something about it that I really connect with. I love the fact that I can grow quality, sustainable food for people. The satisfaction and sense of pride that comes with sending off a full truck of produce to the Markets. The fact that I get to work outside in one of the most beautiful corners of the world. The relief and burst of confidence when business decisions work out in your favour. The anticipation of waiting to see whether or not all your crop setup work has paid off. Even with its challenges, it is such an exciting and diverse industry to be a part of and I hope that in my own small ways I can contribute to the sustainability of the Australian horticulture industry and watch it grow from strength to strength.

Footnote

Other great stories about Joanna and Wrens Vegie Patch can be found here

Q&A Young Grower Feature Rising Star

2008 Spice Magazine Wrens Patch