This week I was honoured and humbled to receive agriculture’s newest and most prestigious accolade The Bob Hawke Landcare Award in front of 850 people at the Sydney Convention Centre.
As you can see from this picture I was pretty chuffed
Me with National Young Landcarer of the Year and Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt
The adorable John Carter from South East Landcare and Megan
It was Michael’s first outing since his big op and he was determined to be there and he was pretty pleased that he pulled that off
The award comes with two extraordinary opportunities. Firstly I will receive a prize of up to $50,000 to develop my knowledge and skills in sustainable land management and secondly I will also have an honorary position on the Australian Landcare Council for a period of two years.
So you may ask what am going to do with $50K. Well firstly I wont be spending on me .
What I would like to do is look at change and what drives change and what hinders change. I would like to look at this from three different angles. Firstly young people, secondly my generation and thirdly farmers in my region. My project will be cross industry and I look forward to meeting lots of new and exciting and dynamic thought leaders and doers in the agrifood sector.
I firmly believe farmers of today do not have the opportunity to access and develop the skills sets that will allow them to survive and prosper in 21st. Firstly we have to acknowledge that producing great food and fibre just isn’t good enough any more. Secondly we have just got to get out there more and build relationships with all the key players and pivotally get intimate knowledge and understanding of how the supply chain works.
We have got to be able predict what our customers are thinking before they think it. We have to be able to predict what the processors and manufacturers are thinking before think it and we have to be able to predict what the supermarkets are thinking before they think it. We have to be at least one step ahead of the curve every step of the way. This will require expertise farmers have not traditionally had access to and my commitment to my fellow farmers is to change this paradigm in my lifetime.
My vision is for an exciting, dynamic, innovative and PROFITABLE agrifood sector that our next generation best and brightest see as a career of first choice. My mission is to turn my vision into everyone’s vision and this will require government, industry, the community and farmers, in fact the whole of supply chain working side by side.
First stop for me is the Bush Capital next Tuesday where I have meetings with policy and decision makers as well as the opportunity to attend the DAFF Youth in Ag Think Tank and hear what the bright young minds see as the way forward for agriculture in this country
Let me re-share this reflection with you on why I farm and why I live and breathe my mission
I am often asked why I like being a farmer and to be honest it was never my lifelong dream to farm. I farm today because the people I most care about in the world farm and they are in it for the long haul.
I grew up on a farm and even though I enjoyed being hands on in the day to day running of the farm and the lifestyle that comes with it the idea of being a farmer was most definitely not on my list of top 10 professions.
I have been back on the farm for ten years now and I will be the first to admit farming is a highly rewarding profession for a multitude of reasons.
Today I will list just a few
Firstly farmers are an essential service, they feed people and whether people admit it or not everybody wants to be needed.
Secondly farming today is a very risky business and I like the mental intensity, the constant review process, the drive to get up each day and do it better. The fulfilling challenge of balancing productivity, people, animals and the planet
Thirdly inspirational people farm. Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge. When I work with inspirational people, they light my fire, feed my soul and challenge me to continue to strive to make a unique contribution to agriculture and the community.
and then there is this
the satisfaction you get when you have managed to farm in a way that balances the needs of the rainforest and the animals who live there
with farm productivity that allows you to supply 50,000 Australians daily with milk whilst at the same time ensuring your cows cow remain happy and healthy.
the buzz you get when next gen share the passion and commitment
the fascination of watching generations of cows tread the same path each time they walk into the paddock
the amusement you get when the cow who detours to the water trough
then charges down the paddock like a teenager to ensure she doesn’t miss out on the sweetest grass
and the special relationships you develop with the people and the animals in your team
the satisfaction of working with next gen
to turn this
Picasso Corner a triumph for community partnerships, biodiversity and the farm
and then the raw reality of watching the circle of life each day. When the chickens you nurtured from eggs are killed and eaten by a goshawk (thanks to twitter verse for identifying my nasty bird) and wake up next morning and remember the chickens got three weeks of a great life they wouldn’t have had without you interfering with nature. Even if in the end it was nature who decided they would play a different role in the food chain .
I love to farm because its real, there is a true sense of place and time. There is an purity and an innocence that comes with a respect of the land that feeds us that living and working in the city will never deliver.
BTW Thank you so much to everyone for the emails, phone calls, flowers, twitter you have all been so wonderful with messages of congratulations. Totally overwhelming xoxoxo