2014 Runners Up

2014 New South Wales runner-up - Edwina Beveridge

At the time of the Award Edwina was a pig farmer from young who runs the first sustainable ’carbon’ farm in Australia, generating their own electricity and fertiliser from pig manure and working with the Clean Energy Regulator to promote this farming model. Her farm has the lowest carbon footprint of any pig farm in the country with half of the farms pig feed procured from other people’s waste, which would otherwise end up in landfill.

At the time of the Award Edwina was a member of the New South Wales Farmers Pork Committee and also works with Australian Pork Limited by hosting journalists, conducting interviews and creating industry promotional videos. Edwina supports her local community by employing 30 full time workers who have access to training and opportunities for career progression.

Edwina’s vision for the Australian agricultural sector is to improve efficiencies and compete on the international market, whilst maintaining sustainable environmental practices and high animal welfare standards.

Edwina’s project was to promote and support current best practice of animal welfare in the pig industry. Her objective was to further develop the science behind pig welfare in intensive farming, particularly looking at current research to develop new criteria on which to assess existing trials of farrowing housing alternatives. She was to examine piglet welfare, using existing trials, studies and research, and will seek veterinarian advice.

2014 Victoria runner-up - Avril Hogan

Originally from Canada, Avril emigrated to Australia to a sheep farm outside of Goroke and started a regional market research consulting company ‘Insightrix’, which has now grown to employ 20 local people. This company works primarily in agriculture and has produced work over a range of areas including triggers producers use to decide what crops to plant; monitoring the acceptance of new crops introduced in Australia and tracked over five years; collecting user feedback on a range of training, tools, programs, and government benefits for producers; and research into Victorian producers adoption and attitudes to climate change.

Insightrix employs predominately women who are mothers returning to the workforce and young women who have left school early. This company provides them with professional training, computer skills, customer service, communication and interpersonal skills.

Avril is passionate about empowering young women to provide skilled employees for the rural sector and her vision is to build the capacity of young rural women to contribute to the sustainability of their community and selves.

Her project was to develop a rural youth mentorship program matching professional and/or migrant women to young women (aged 14 – 19). The initial pilot was to involve four communities and 20 matched mentees and mentors and will run over an eight month period. The key outcomes were to be an exploration of the mentees education and career aspirations, and inspiration for the mentees to pursue studies, follow their passions and remain in regional areas to contribute their skills to agriculture. As an immigrant herself Avril understands the challenges faced by new comers to rural communities, and also aims through this program to support the reception and integration of immigrants.

2014 Queensland runner-up - Rhonda Sorenson

Rhonda is a strong advocate of collaborative partnerships to create positive sustainable economic and social change in rural and remote communities. She has a particular interest in using the abundant tropical expertise particularly in agribusiness, food processing and bio discovery to develop new and innovative industries to diversity and strengthen the regional economy and create jobs.

At the time of the Award Rhonda ran her own business and was Principal Research and Managing Director for SassyBio Pty Ltd which specializes in rural innovation, rural economic and community development. At the time of thye Award she was a member and chair of numerous agricultural committees; was coordinator of Malanda Small Farms Field Days; was a ‘Blueprint for the Bush’ Ambassador; and worked with several women’s groups including the Women in Local Government strategy group and the Rural Women’s symposium state reference group.

Rhonda proposed to lead a sustainable Small Farms Filed Day project which would put “Ag” back into Agricultural shows. This project was to help fill the growing gap in dissemination and adoption of sustainable farm practices with smaller landholders in Australia, by undertaking a program of creating self-sustaining annual events in local communities as a partnership between local show societies and Landcare groups.

Rhonda was to conduct a study tour of New South Wales, Victoria and West Australia to attend successful small farms field days to investigate and understand the potential for supporting the adoption of sustainable farming and agricultural innovations through show societies and Landcare Partnerships at a local level.

2014 South Australia runner-up - Susie Green

Susie is passionate about the Australian horticultural industry and believes in the vital importance of local, fresh food production to the long term health and wealth of our society. At the time of the Award she had over 20 years’ experience working both nationally and internationally in soil and water management in various fields of agronomy, capacity building, business development and marketing, and held numerous leadership positions including CEO of the Apple and Pear Growers Association of South Australia and several council and chair appointments on agricultural and educational committees.

Susie is committed to her community and industry and is working hard to change the culture of the apple and pear industry to one of proactive positivity and collaboration.

Susie’s vision for the Australian horticultural industry is to proactively engage with the broader community to strengthen linkages between consumers and producers, particularly in light of the growing divide between these groups. Her project was to be a pilot to determine if a community engagement approach using citizen’s juries can generate deeper understanding of fresh food production among consumers; identify values around fresh food production; and enable the horticultural industry to develop positive stories that will effectively engage and connect with consumers and the general public.

Susie hoped that if this pilot was successful, the approach could be upscaled through grant applications and industry collaboration to be applied to the broader national horticultural industry, across all different areas of Australian agriculture. Susie also hoped that this work would provide an example to other rural women that having the courage to think laterally and act on personal passions and beliefs can have a major impact.

2014 Western Australia runner-up - Jodie Lane

Jodie is passionate about promoting local food to local people, and through her business ‘Fair Harvest’ conducts classes, workshops and events promoting and teaching people about local food growing. Her business aims to educate growers and consumers about ethical and local ways of accessing food and runs an annual two week Permaculture Design Certificate in permaculture and organic growing.

Jodie is also active in her community and has initiated projects such as the Monthly Swap Shuffle, a community day where locals are encouraged to bring excess seeds, plants and produce to exchange; Growers’ Shared Meals where local produce is brought to her business venue and growers enjoy a three course meal prepared by a local chef; the Festival of Forgotten Skills, a family day where old and forgotten skills are shared by community members; the Bee Fair, a day for celebrating bees and beekeeping; and developing and promoting my ‘Eat Local Month’ a personal challenge to eat only locally grown food.

Due to the immense interest in her ‘Eat Local Month’ experience Jodie aspired to develop a ‘Eat Local Week’ challenge that will encourage people to eat locally. Jodie’s aim was to reach maximum public engagement and provide an interactive resource to promote primary industry Australia wide. Her project was to include the development of an interactive website where participants sign up to the challenge and local producers can showcase their produce; and on the ground community driven events including an opening week for the challenge, a primary producers trail and a local food feast.

2014 Tasmania runner-up - Sarah Hirst

Sarah began her career as a cadet journalist, becoming the rural editor of the Launceston Examiner writing about the dreams, successes and hardships of farmers and rural communities. Since this time Sarah has worked for several rural publications, including the Weekly Times, Herald Sun, and Canberra’s Press Gallery, before becoming the Public Relations Director of the National Farmers Federation.

In this role, Sarah worked on lobbying and PR campaigns to improve the life and working conditions of rural Australians, including the International Women in Agricultural Conference which showcases the incredible inspiring stories of women in rural industries from around the world. At the time of the Award Sarah owned and managed Leaning Church Vineyard and had recently purchased the local tavern which was to be turned into a regional food and wine showcase and tasting center. She had also established her own PR and marketing company, been a finalist in the Tasmanian Telstra Businesswoman Awards, and has won tourism, journalist and chamber of commerce awards.

Sarah has a passion to engage with rural women and promote farmgate experiences around Tasmania so locals and tourists can meet the producer, understand the origins of products from paddock to plate and gain a deep appreciation of the incredible women and men on the land. Sarah’s vision was to study, learn and develop a model for an interactive farmgate ‘meet the producer’ trail for farmers to achieve three key goals: boost farm profitability by selling premium produce at full retail margin from the farmgate; add a dynamic rural-focused component to tourism industries; and educate consumers about the origins of food by enabling them to meet the farmer, taste the produce, learn about production and purchase home-grown goods.

2014 Northern Territory runner-up - Bonnie Henderson

Bonnie comes from a family of graziers who operate cattle stations in far north-west Queensland and the Victoria River district and has a personal commitment to raising awareness of quality breeding stock and modern scientifically based beef production practice. Bonnie is also passionate about the lost art of saddle making, which she became engaged in whilst pursuing her career in flying.

Bonnie’s vision was to develop an educational program around rural skills, particularly saddle making, in conjunction with her local secondary college Vocational Education Program to up skill young people as they enter primary industries.

Her aim was to keep young people in rural industries by providing training that can lead to a full time career, or supplement income as an added skill in conjunction with other paid work or family commitments. Bonnie believes this is important given the current economic times, where an increasing demand for good quality Australian made saddles can provide employment for young women in remote areas.