2010 Winners

2010 New South Wales Winner – Lana Mitchell

European and United Kingdom wildflower market study tour

Lana Mitchell is a commercial cut-flower grower and a pioneer of the Australian wildflower industry, having bred and achieved plant breeding rights for ‘White Romance’ the tallest and largest flannel flower on the market.

Lana ‘s Award ambition was twofold: to support the Australian wildflower industry through better communication and collaboration and to move beyond an emerging industry and to take Australian wildflowers into the European market.

Lana’s Award project involved an international study tour to Europe and the United Kingdom to study two successful business models, the Flower and Plant Association of the UK and the Flower Council of Holland. She extended the tour to include Israel, world leaders in flower production, to learn from their research and development and marketing and promotion efforts.

As a direct result of the study tour, Lana concluded that without a compulsory marketing levy, as is currently the case in Australia, the marketing models of both the UK and Holland are not adaptable or workable in Australia.

However Lana believed that the establishment of New Rural Industries Australia, a new organisation set up to better coordinate and collaborate production and marketing information across new rural industries, would provide the ideal vehicle for the Australian wildflower industry. Lana was appointed a Director of NRIA and editor of their magazine.

Lana’s project delivered an Australian first. The project was been successful in securing a permit from the Israeli government for export of flannel flowers into their country. A licensed propagation company will supply growers with mother stock, to enable build-up of sufficient volume to export flowers from Israel into Europe. The logistics and cost entailed meant that export through Israel was the only option. The agreement would see Australian wildflowers penetrate the European market, and so creating recognition for Australian flora and building demand for Australian wildflowers.

2010 National Runner-Up and Victorian State Winner – Alana Johnson

Growing stronger agriculture through philanthropy

Alana Johnson believes in the establishment a philanthropic foundation for agriculture to enable people to put something back into rural Australia.

Alana highlighted that there were philanthropic funds for heath, the arts, sport and education, but not for agriculture.

Alana was hoping to fill this void, and worked to establish the Australian Agriculture Future Foundation that would provide an avenue for people on the land to create a legacy to rural Australia by investing their wealth back into agriculture.

For the 28 years leading up to the Award, Alana was involved in cattle production, farm forestry and landscape renovation with her husband and sons on their property outside Benalla in Victoria.

In this time, she also played a lead role in the development of rural women’s leadership and capacity building.  She was a founding member of Australian Women in Agriculture, past President of the Foundation for Australian Agricultural Women and she held the rural portfolio on the Board of the Victorian Women’s Trust.

As a rural consultant Alana is recognised nationally and internationally for her work on farm succession planning, change management in the rural sector and leadership training for rural women. She is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and undertook research for a PhD on the history of the rural women’s movement in Australia.

Alana said the gave her a platform and for others to recognise the time is right for a philanthropic fund for agriculture.

2010 Queensland Winner – Sharyn Garrett

Raising the profile of kangaroo harvesting

Sharyn Garrett believes the key to achieving a higher profile for the kangaroo industry is for harvesters and landholders to work more closely together to create an industry which is profitable, sustainable, and enjoys a more positive image.

At the time of the Award, Sharyn was a partner in a macropod harvesting enterprise, Secretary of  the Queensland Macropod and Wild Game Harvesters Association  and Executive Officer of the Booringa Action Group – a not for profit community organisation in south west Queensland.

Sharyn’s vision is for landholders and harvesters to work co-operatively to recognise and utilise the kangaroo as a resource, and not just a pest. She was working to establish the first ever kangaroo harvesters and growers co-operative and she wanted to use the Award bursary to develop the cooperative’s business strategy.

The cooperative would provide rangeland landholders with the opportunity to invest in a business that utilises kangaroos and generates income from them.

She believed the cooperative would result in higher returns for producers, better kangaroo management practices and less pressure on grazing land.

When Sharyn was awarded the Queensland RIRDC Rural Women’s Award, it was recognition of her hard work to grow the kangaroo harvesting industry in a sustainable way.

2010 South Australian Winner – Ulli Spranz

A taste for biodynamics and organics

Ulli Spranz describes as “mind blowing” the extent to which her organics company has grown since its establishment in 1988.  Ulli is widely regarded as a pioneer in biodynamic and organic farming in Australia.

For the more than 20 years prior to her Award she has lived and worked at Paris Creek in the Adelaide Hills, where she and her husband operate a successful biodynamic farming property, a milk processing plant and a cheese processing plant. She employs 55 people, processes 8 million litres of milk a year and sells in excess of $10 million in product annually.

What makes Ulli’s farm unique is that all her produce is grown organically and biodynamically.

Ulli’s passion for organics stems from her belief that organic and biodynamic food is not only good for people, but it’s good for the environment too.

Ulli was one of the founding members of the Biodynamic and Organic Agricultural Bureau, a farmer organisation established to network and exchange experiences. At the time of the Award she was Chair of Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd which is recognised as the most successful biodynamic organization worldwide.  She was also a committee member with Standards Australia for the Organic and Biodynamic Standard.

Ulli is passionate about educating others in biodynamic and organic farming principles and she holds monthly meetings with farmers to study biodynamic farming. Her Award ambition is to expand her educational role by organising workshops throughout Australia to promote biodynamic and organic farming principles.

2010 National Winner and Western Australian State Winner – Sue Middleton

Creating a more environmentally sustainable pork industry

Sue Middleton doesn’t regard piggery waste as a worthless resource.  Instead, she believes it has enormous potential to be used more positively to generate energy. At the time of the Award, Sue and her husband managed a diverse range of farming operations, including 210 hectare citrus orchard and  a 13,000 thousand acre grain enterprise. They have diversified into the pork industry through the purchase of a PIC multiplier herd unit and leased and managed the Pig Skills Centre Breeding Unit at Muresk in WA.

Sue’s Award ambition is to pursue the commercialisation of biogas as a business opportunity.  She sees the Award as the perfect platform to progress her research and to educate others on enormous opportunities associated with biogas. Sue firmly believes that the Rural Women’s Award plays an important role in recognising and encouraging greater contributions from women in rural Australia.

Preliminary research undertaken by the pork industry demonstrated that using piggery waste to generate electricity is a viable proposition for most piggeries.  The research came at a time when the agriculture industry was looking for ways to play a more positive environmental role and reduce its carbon emissions.

Her contribution to rural leadership included sitting on the inaugural Regional Women’s Advisory Council advising government on issues impacting on rural women and rural communities, serving on the National Rural Advisory Council responsible for national drought policy and sitting on the Regional Solutions Board.

Sue used the bursary to travel to New Zealand and Europe to investigate some of the world’s most outstanding food waste processing and biogas production facilities.

Sue said the Award is about recognising women who are stepping up into leadership positions and hopefully giving other women permission to achieve.

2010 Tasmanian Winner – Gabbi Bresnehan

Supporting rural women in need

At the time of the Award, Gabbi Bresnehan was a fifth generation farmer and manager of a texel sheep, prime lamb and mixed cropping enterprise in the Southern Midlands of Tasmania.

Gabbi’s Award ambition was to support rural women by providing them with practical support and time out to network so that they could continue to perform in the various roles demanded of them within their families and enterprises, industries and communities.

Gabbi’s project involved staging a series of workshops to give women a day off work while providing them with new skills, new networks and access to rural support services.

Gabbi coordinated three workshops, the first two specialising in cheese making, one held at Oatlands in the Southern Midlands and the other at Westbury in the Northern Midlands, with the third workshop, a leather making workshop, to be held in the Southern Midlands before the end of 2010.

Gabbi’s efforts provided rural women across Tasmania with practical support, the opportunity to connect up with other rural women and some real respite from the pressures of drought. The workshops encouraged a number of women to establish new enterprises and cottage industries and helped boost membership of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture.

Gabbi’s project also provided a conduit for other rural services, including Department of Primary Industries, Rural Financial Counselling, Relationships Australia and CentreLink to better connect with rural women.

With support from TWiA, Gabbi  successfully applied for a grant to run another cheese making workshop and she will continue to seek new funding opportunities for future workshops.

The Award required Gabbi to speak in public on issues relevant to rural women, so raising her profile and her confidence in public speaking, The effort involved in coordinating also increased Gabbi’s organisational and leadership skills.

2010 Northern Territory Winner – Carmel Ball

Improving the profile and professionalism of the Northern Territory Seafood Industry

At the time of the Award, Carmel Ball was owner-operator of the Darwin Fish Markets, the only fresh seafood market in the Northern Territory promoting and selling only Australian seafood, with 98% of their product sourced locally. She had been involved in the aquaculture industry in the Territory for over a decade, as a consultant in quality assurance and human resource management.

Carmel’s ambition is to improve the level of professionalism and raise the public profile of the Northern Territory seafood industry.

The centrepiece of Carmel’s project was the production of the Territory’s first comprehensive seafood cookbook, to profile and celebrate the industry and to provide consumers with knowledge and recipes on how to prepare and cook local seafood cuisine.

Carmel’s project involved extensive communication and collaboration with government and industry. She received official endorsement of the book by the NT Seafood Council and its inclusion as part of the Board’s strategic and marketing plan, with a subcommittee established to progress the cookbook to publication.

Her project also involved the production and distribution of marketing material for the ‘Support Local Caught’ campaign, supported by the major supermarket chains throughout the Territory and in Kununurra in Western Australia. Carmel was elected Chair of the Trader and Processing Committee on the Northern Territory Seafood Council Board, a position she aspired to retaining for two terms.

The Award required Carmel to speak at a number of significant events, including the Australian Women in Agriculture 2010 National Conference and the NT Westpac ‘Learn, Lead and Succeed’ Forum. Carmel anticipated the Northern Territory Seafood Cookbook to be published and available to the public before the end of 2012.