I am living on the lands of the Dharawal people. Conflict, environmental changes and land grants resulted in displacement of our Aboriginal communities and the loss of traditional homelands. The cedar-getters were the first to come to the region and were followed by white settlers and their animals. As land was cleared and towns settled, the Aboriginal families lost their communities, their independence and often their lives.
My name is Lynne Strong. I am a sixth generation dairy farmer. When I started my blog ten years years ago the aim was to share farming stories from Clover Hill Dairies. I hoped what my readers discovered was that farming today is so much more that growing food and fibre. By opening the door to my role in our family business I was hoping my readers would gain greater insights into the passion and commitment of the people and the places behind the land that produces our food and hands that grow it
NOW AND IN THE FUTURE
Whilst I still live on the farm, I am no longer involved in its day to day running but I have a fierce commitment to the development of agriculture through its young people. I see myself as a catalyst for change and a connector. I want to inspire and engage young leaders so they can be changemakers themselves.
To achieve this, I identified at team of people with a shared vision and set up the Not for Profit organisation Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) . For the past 10 years, the PYiA team have been designing and delivering programs that connect farmers and the community through partnerships between young people.
Working on the collective action for collective impact ethos our partnerships between young farmers and young people living in urban landscapes use education, art and technology to encourage courageous two way conversations about how we can get the best outcomes for farmers, consumers and the planet.
PYiA initiatives include The Archibull Prize (Secondary Schools ) and Kreative Koalas (Primary Schools). Both of these programs are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and invite young people to look at sustainability through the lens of agriculture and take local action on global issues
Our school programs are facilitated by our Young Farming Champions who we identify, train and develop to be confident communicators and trusted voices on the issues we face to produce the food we eat and fibres we wear and use whilst balancing the needs of the planet
The next stage of my journey includes transitioning the young people PYiA have identified through a structural succession process.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING AGRICULTURE
I believe agriculture needs a new way of thinking about and engaging with their customers and the supply chain. For farmers, this will mean working beyond traditional boundaries and challenging the conventional thinking about primary industries and individuals. For consumers, it will mean considering agricultural farming systems and their constraints as well as reflecting on new definitions of “value” when thinking about Australian grown products. Only then can we really work together to create sustainable agricultural industries, for the long-term.
THE WAY IT WAS
My name is Lynne Strong and I am a woman with many, many hats. Some I wear better than others I readily admit.
The one I wear most proudly though is my farmer hat. I will be the first to admit it isn’t a hat that I saw myself wearing as a little girl.
Nick, Lynne and Michael Strong
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 farm today because the people I most care about in the world farm and they are in it for the long haul.
Michael and Nick Strong who live and breathe cows and farming
Farming today is no walk in the park. 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. My husband Michael, my son Nick and our farm team (and our cows) have put their hands up to take on the challenge and I want to work side by side with these extraordinary people.
So why write a blog. Well my family have been farming in the Jamberoo Valley on the South Coast of New South Wales since 1831 (and in Ireland and Scotland probably for centuries before that). That is 7 generations of farming families and 180 years of blood sweat, tears, passion and commitment that have gone into what is now producing milk for 50,000 Australians everyday
That’s 180 years of great stories waiting to be told. And I knew from my interactions with our friends and neighbours that the community wanted to hear those stories.
They just needed the right vehicle. So Art4Agriculture was conceived and Art4Agriculuture has its own entire wardrobe of hats.
But people keep telling me there was still a gap missing, we need more farmers to share their stories to help provide the community with real farmers they can relate to.
Writing a blog is indeed a great way to open the door to our farms, share our ups and downs, the frustrations and challenges, the passion and commitment but most of all show the community that the faith they have in Australian farm produce is warranted.
I am writing this blog to join other inspiring farmers who are opening their farmgates and help inspire other farming men and women to share their stories. To help show them the community does love farmers, that they do want to hear our stories but they maybe a bit concerned about modern farming practices and whether the way we farm today fits into their rural idyll.
Lets not forget farmers are people and not all people are perfect but there is a whole nation of Australian farmers who get up everyday and say “today I want to move one step closer to being a perfect farmer”.
What is the definition of perfect farming? That’s the challenge – that’s the two way conversation I would like to have with my readers.
I will put this one out there as a definition this morning “We believe that responsible farming is not only about ‘doing the right thing’ but makes sense – for our animals, our landscape, our people and our communities”.
So lets start the conversation I invite my readers to write me a mission statement for their “perfect” farm
Who is Lynne Strong beyond the farmgate?
Lynne is the 2012 Bob Hawke Landcare award winner and the runner up in the 2011 Rabobank Farm Industry Leader of the Year Award. Lynne is passionate about sustainable agriculture and recognises a pressing need for primary producers to reconnect with consumers to build a strong appreciation of the importance of farming. Lynne also saw a pivotal need for farming industries to invest in the next generation of farmers and initiated the Art4Agriculture network of young farming champions.
She has been a key driver in the design and delivery of the Art4Agriculture programs, which use art and multimedia to engage thousands of students in learning about the valuable role farmers play in Australia’s future.