I am lucky enough to be the ‘sunrise’ in the wonderful cookbook that can be purchased here that celebrates Australia’s fresh produce and the people who produce it – our farmers
Doing some promo for the book recently with Masterchef 2014 runner up Lynton Tapp
For me the whole thing has been one amazing experience after another and part of that experience is that it’s allowed me to give back to some of the special people in my life. Like local photographer and all round beautiful person Linda Faiers who worked with me in the beginning to record the journey of all my projects in pictures. Linda is such a talent and this cookbook showcases that
A sample of the genius that is Linda Faiers – we had such fun capturing the Sunrise
As the ‘Sunrise’ or forward to the Cookbook I am finding myself doing multiple interviews to promote it – which I must admit is giving me great pleasure – it is just so fantastic that we now have such a beautiful resource that showcases so many of our wonderful farmers, their practices and their values
These days there is plenty of material on the internet that tells people who I am and I always ensure that the journalist interviewing me has seen the ones that I believe best portray what I do, what I stand for, and why I do it
This means that the journalist interviewing me can focus on what they believe will interest the readers of the publication they write for
No matter who interviews me I get that question “why farming – there are so many other careers out there that don’t require you to work 24/7 for such a small return on investment?”
Now anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows farming was definitely not on my list of career choices when I was growing up
If I am going to be honest there was no career I wanted to do less than farm (that probably is a little extreme)
As a child I grew up in house that had a mother who thought she had married a man with the bank account the size of Robert Sangster and all she had to do was look beautiful and attend garden parties (bit harsh – I loved you mum and must admit I always fantasized about what that lifestyle would be like myself ) She soon found out that wasn’t true and farming in Australia is a tough gig and not too many people manage to support their farms without one person working off farm
When I was eighteen and had found out I had lots of options to do whatever I wanted at Uni I grabbed the opportunity and got off the farm as fast as I could
Now Rebecca Ferguson sings this beautiful song where she assures us
Nothing’s real but love
No money, no house, no car,
Can beat love
So when just before I went to Uni I met my future husband Michael I thought Rebecca Ferguson had totally nailed it. I loved uni. I loved spending every spare minute I had with Michael.
When I finished Uni we got married. I had a degree and an assured secure income and I didn’t care what Michael did as long as he had a career where people valued him and it wasn’t dangerous
I should have twigged that these two priorities did not sit at the top of his list when he told me he wanted to be a policeman. Is there a career more dangerous and less valued than a policeman? Well yes there is (in fact there is a very long list of them) and one of those is being a farmer. I used to joke with Michael saying when you become a policeman I am going to become a nun and that certainly reduced his interest in being a policeman. But six months into our marriage some-one came along and offered him a share farming opportunity and I was horrified. But as fifth generation dairy farmer himself some-one had opened a door he never even dreamt would open and nothing no matter how against the idea I was, was going to stop him accepting
I always say hate is not an emotion it is a disease and for me it was. I hated the idea of going back to the nightmares of my childhood, no money, lots of resentment and parents wanting to give their children everything they didn’t have themselves as children and couldn’t and when Michael said yes a little piece of me died and it ate away at me for over 25 years
Like most women on farms one of my roles was to open the bills and write the cheques and find the money when it wasn’t there. For me with a degree in pharmacy the answer was fairly simple just work longer hours in the pharmacy.
I was working in the new era of Night and Day Pharmacies. These pharmacies were open 7 days a week, 14 hours a day. There weren’t a lot of people who wanted to work those hours and the people who did could earn quite a bit of money and I became one of those people.
No matter how hard I tried by the time the stress of the deregulation of the dairy industry came around I hated farming, I hated my job and the disease had eaten me away to the point where I felt dead inside.
By that time I had found out that whilst pharmacists are highly valued by the community it can be a very dangerous profession.
In 2000, the year of deregulation, which also happened to be the year our son decided he wanted to farm I was managing a very large pharmacy with a staff of 20 people that was being held up by the same two people wearing pig masks and wielding knives on such a regular basis I can’t recall how many times it was until they were caught.
It’s the most horrible thing – the hold-ups themselves are horrendous- but watching the long term detrimental effects on the people you work with and have come to love just broke my heart.
So without going into the ugly details I found myself on farm 24/7 and it was then that I understood why farmers are so passionate about what they do. I understood the emotional attachment, the love of their livestock and the landscape and now I too share that passion
I understand why they make the sacrifices they do. I understand why they continue to do what they do when there is no future for their farm
This is why I do what I do and that is fight for a fairer future for our farmers where everyone not just Coles and Woolworths gets a fair return for their efforts
Now our son owns the farm and his father works for him. Our son comes from what many call the Entitled Generation. I prefer to call it the Privileged Generation.
All I hope is that he appreciates the sacrifices his father has made for him because Rebecca Ferguson has missed something very important and Pharrell Wiillams is right You can’t have real love without happiness and you can’t make other people happy by funding their dreams and scarificing your own
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
Keep your eye out for the cook book its called Planet to Plate
Its a fabulous celebration of our farmers, our great Australian chefs and the many people who help our farmers supply the wonderful safe, nutritious, affordable food and fibre that Australia and its beautiful natural resources allow us to