Did you know that only 10% of Australians live in rural areas? So it’s probably fair to assume that many people have no idea what it’s like to live in the country or to be a farmer. So I thought I’d tell you what it’s like for me!
I love farming and I feel grateful every day that we made the decision to return to the land and for the opportunity we were given to take over my family farm. I love living in a small rural town and I love the community that we belong to. These days it’s really hard to get into farming – unless you are from one or have a small fortune, buying a farm is not an option for many, so it is a career that I see as a privilege and one I never take for granted. It is one of the most rewarding things you can do and it doesn’t feel like work to us. Everyday is enjoyable and challenging.
Farming is like any other business; you have to be innovative or you won’t survive. I often hear people talk of farming and how hard it is and how it’s getting so tough, but I think that’s the same as any business these days. Sure, we have the factors of the weather being unpredictable and water unreliability is a big issue in our area, but other businesses have other problems. Think newspapers and the introduction of online media; dvds and iTunes or Apple TV; taxis and Uber; Wotif and Airbnb. There are so many new and innovative technologies out there now that it doesn’t matter what you do, you have to be ahead of the game to stay in business.
That’s the philosophy that we have had since taking over the farm in 2011. We wanted to do things differently. We wanted to develop a brand around our avocados and connect with our community and our customers.
I think there are loads of opportunities for this in agriculture. There are opportunities everywhere to differentiate your product and value-add. Sure it’s more work and time but it’s worth it. You can have the best product in the world – the best wheat, the best avocados, the best carrots – but if people don’t know about it then it doesn’t matter. The market is so competitive now that we have to find ways to differentiate ourselves. What we have found is that people want to connect and they want to know about the food they are buying and they love feeling part of our journey and our community and we love that too. It is so rewarding to be able to connect with our customers and get direct feedback. By establishing a brand and building our community we are establishing loyal followers who will choose to buy our products over others even if they are more expensive. It’s not just because it’s the best product around – which, of course, it is – it’s because our customers know who grows it, picks it and sends it to their door.
We love farming. Sure it’s busy, but it’s so enjoyable and every day is part of a really fulfilling journey for us. We chose to be farmers and we are grateful every day for that choice. I’m sure there will be tough times in the future – we haven’t been through a drought since we’ve been on the farm – but I hope that when that happens we’ll find new ways to get through it and new ways to manage those conditions.
If you’re from a farm and have never considered it as an option for you I urge you to think again. If you’re not from a farm and you’d love to be a farmer then think outside the square: do your research find out where there’s a gap in the market and look at what other small producers have done to get themselves going and you never know what you might find…anything is possible.