About art4agriculturechat

This blog will share farming stories from our family farm Clover Hill Dairies. What you will discover however is that farming today is so much more that growing food and fibre. By opening the door to my role in our family business I am hoping you will gain greater insights into the passion and committment of the people and the places behind the land that produces our food and hands that grow it

Make It Real- A Case for Action

Young Farming Champion’s Josh Gilbert  and Anika Molesworth are blogging from ParisCOP21 and they are ‘learning by doing’  These are Josh’s reflections from  Day 3…………

Josh and Anika say thank you for your support

Paris Day 3 of the COY11 conference has reinforced a number of things for Anika and me

Front and centre our agricultural sector has what it takes to be highly competitive but despite huge potential and the rapidly growing demand for our products, agriculture overall has been losing market share to international competitors. It’s widely acknowledged within agriculture that it is being held back by a lack of strong leadership.

Young people in agriculture like Anika and I  know that if Australian agriculture is to reach its true potential then it’s going to need a generation of passionate and energetic future influencers with a different set of skills beyond agricultural expertise, who can recognise new business opportunities and make them happen.

Read the full post here  Make It Real- A Case for Action

With a lot riding on the next rainfall event for many Farmers in Australia, James Walker and the Agrihive team have put together this excellent rainfall forecast presentation from Bruce Gunn
                                        “It’s got to be said that we have never had the big El Nino year like we’ve got now…….. go back to back” Bruce Gunn

There is key information that will surprise you like the performance on what the El Nino is presenting at the moment and the breaking down of the El Nino in global models.

Ag in the classroom can do so much more than share the paddock to plate story

It was so rewarding for me to be invited to attend the official launch of the Matraville Sports High School training ground initiative for student teachers that exposes them to ‘real issues’  which sees the school partner with the University of NSW in a world first

Now Matraville has more teachers to give the students the attention they need, and the UNSW is giving its student teachers much more classroom experience than they would normally receive.

Up to 60 student teachers will now be on the Matraville campus at any one time.

“For too long teacher education has been stuck in an ivory tower with occasional excursions out into the real world .This is the first time that a secondary campus has been established for a university teacher education facility in Australia.

“The kids can get their hands dirty — student teachers need to see what it’s like to actually deal with an extended school community. It is exposure to real schools, with real issues far beyond standard teacher education”. Professor Chris Davison head of the School of Education at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

You can only imagine how thrilled and honoured I was to see the showcase video that shows how The Archibull Prize is viewed as an integral part of this groundbreaking initiative that includes drama and gifted education programs, particularly focusing on the arts and science, as well as literacy and numeracy initiatives for those students needing additional support.

Watch the showcase video here 

Since its inception The Archibull Prize has been funded by industry and supporters of Ag in the Classroom. This means our annual reports have always focused on the benefits to agriculture. Yet when the art judge Wendy Taylor and I visit all the schools we know the benefits of The Archibull Prize experience to the schools, the students and their wider communities are so much more than this and sadly we have yet had the opportunity to tell the whole story

Thank you so much Matraville Sports High School and UNSW for sharing the holistic importance of the Young Farming Champions and The Archibull Prize programs. Kudos to you


Living to learn and grow and aspire to great things

I live to learn and grow and aspire to great things. Corny as it might sound I genuinely want the world to be a better place because of the things I did in my lifetime

Today is the day Your mountain is waiting

I have made lots of mistakes, pissed off plenty of people and I am one of those people that you either like or you don’t.

I no longer worry about these things. Mistakes make you the person you are today and who needs fake friends

For the last ten years I have been surrounded by some very exciting people who have helped shaped my journey

But I knew if I was going to achieve what I want to achieve I was going to need a mentor who was in it for the long haul

I got my first taste of what that could be like when I spent 3 days with Shaun Coffey in Brisbane in 2013. It was such a buzz. But Shaun spends more time overseas than he does here and we realised that wasn’t going to work

I am excited two years later that a new opportunity has arisen and I now have regular access to the very bright mind and the brave person who is willing to take me on

At our first meeting he reiterated how pivotal it was for me prioritise what space I want to play in. This can be especially challenging for women because we often experience a high degree of inner stress over conflicting commitments.  We have been conditioned to spend our energy helping other people achieve their goals.

So my first task is to have a vision that is built on my values, not the agenda of others.  I look forward to being inspired by my personal convictions, to learning new skills that become habits, to staying calm and remaining strong. I look forward to my new life and I look forward to sharing my journey with you


What will the farmer of the future look like?

What will the farmer of the future look like?

Farmers of the Future.jpg

Farmers of the future will say I am proud to be both an environmentalist and a farmer 

I must admit I always struggled with the image of the profession ‘farmer’.

I was always proud to be a pharmacist – people appreciate pharmacists, they value them

In the 21st century whilst people want to appreciate and value farmers, we are finding that more and more people are questioning whether our modern farming practices align with their values.

I always felt and still do like I was potentially walking into a war zone when I talked about farming in a public forum. I always felt agricultural practices were under the microscope and in some cases quite rightly so.

So my wish for farmers of the future is to be viewed as an integral part of a farming community that is perceived as, and is delivering safe, affordable, healthy food and quality fibre AND leaving a positive footprint on the planet.

My wish is that farmers of the future will feel proud to say that I am both a farmer and an environmentalist. Many, many now do already

To help facilitate this transition I am part of a team who has worked behind the scenes and sent Young Farming Champions Josh Gilbert and Anika Molesworth to Paris.

I say fervently that Josh and Anika are the image that future farmers will all aspire to. They are the gutsy young people learning the corporate mindset during the week and spending every spare minute they have working side by side with their parents on the farm

They have gone to Paris on a fact-finding mission with the aim to back what they found to share with young farmers like themselves and anyone else who cares to listen.

What is so exciting here is that they care enough, and others care enough to support them, to go and learn whatever COP21 had to offer?

The support from government and the community was phenomenal

Prior to their trip Josh and Anika had an audience with both the NSW Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Primary Industries who reiterated the important role agriculture plays in NSW

Minister Blair also recently met with Josh and Anika and 15 of their peers.

2015 Archibull Prize Awards  (110)

Minister Blair feels strongly that investment in the new generation of agricultural leaders can do so much more than securing the production of food. It can provide jobs, grow wealth and create vibrant and resilient rural and regional communities. And the perfect way to create world class leaders is to create the right environment and give them the skills to thrive. And what a great opportunity Paris is to help them develop those skills and knowledge.

And excitingly bring that knowledge back and help Australian farmers drive the transition to clean energy technologies. Farming communities have a great opportunity to champion renewable energy

As Anika says “We are blessed with open skies and vast horizons, we have boundless solar and wind resources. Importantly farm supplied green energy has the potential to provide Australian farmers with a new and steady income stream. This will help reduce the physical, emotional and financial stress on our farmers and help ensure we have resilient and prosperous rural and remote communities.”

There is no denying that a positive future for agriculture will require change.  The journey will see them find themselves in a difficult space. They will be challenged by the conservatives. Some will feel threatened and try to bring them down. They are brave, they have a strong support network and that network will grow.

They want the best outcomes for both farmers and the planet. To achieve this they are out talking to everyone. They are finding many other groups share their values.

They are very excited we now have a Prime Minister who also shares their values and wants to leave the same legacy they aspire too.

They are off to Paris to learn. To seek out the solutions that they can bring to the table. They see themselves as part of the rational group in the middle who know it’s smart to talk to both sides and that WIN:WINS are possible. By this I mean the group that sits between farmers embedded in the old ways and extreme green groups. The rational group who view partnerships as the key to success

They and many farmers like them are committed to Australians having the bright future that we all deserve. I look forward to blogging their journey and sharing it with you .

You can find their blog here 

You can read Gabrielle Chan’s story on their crowd funding campaign which say 65 Australians fund their trip to Paris and COP21 here 


Using oxygen to save lives not threaten them

When I was a girl and that was a long time ago I learnt in school the biggest threat to the world was extremism and the conflict in the middle east . Yet did we study this at school??? No way that would be too close to common sense. I live to learn and grow and as a person who is part of a team sending two very special young people to Paris this week I am reading avidly  in a effort to help play my role at home.

Today’s post is a reprint of this article in The Conversation– I found the article extraordinaryly powerful as in how we respond to IS

What are your thoughts has Japan got it right? How do we cut off the terrorists oxygen with as little impact on human life and the planet as possible?

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did

The terrorist attacks in Paris have resonated around the world. In addition to physical violence, Islamic State (IS) is pursuing a strategy of socially mediated terrorism. The symbolic responses of its opponents can be predicted and may inadvertently further its aims.

In the emotion of the moment, we need to act. We need to be cautious, however, of symbolic reactions that divide Muslims and non-Muslims. We need emblems that act against the xenophobia that is a recruiting tool for jihadists.

Reactions from the West should not erode the Muslim leadership that is essential to overturning “Islamic State”. Queen Rania of Jordan points out:

What the extremists want is to divide our world along fault lines of religion and culture, and so a lot of people in the West may have stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims. But really this fight is a fight between the civilised world and a bunch of crazy people who want to take us back to medieval times. Once we see it that way, we realise that this is about all of us coming together to defend our way of life.

Queen Rania’s statement characterises the Paris attacks as part of a wider conflict around cultural values. How are these values playing out symbolically across the globe?

Propaganda seeks predictable responses

IS’s socially mediated propaganda is sophisticated and planned. This supports an argument that the Paris attacks are the beginning of a global campaign. Symbolic materials characterise IS as invincible. However, other evidence may indicate that it is weak.

The IS representation of the Eiffel Tower. SITE Intelligence Group

The spontaneous celebration on Twitter by IS supporters was predictable. Its representational coverage of the Paris attacks, however, suggests deep planning.

This planning is embedded in professionally designed images. A reworked image depicts the Eiffel Tower as a triumphal arch with the IS flag flying victoriously on top.

The tower is illuminated and points to the heavens and a God-given victory. The inclusion of a road running through the Eiffel Tower provides a sense of speed, change, even progress. In Arabic, the text states, “We are coming, France” and “The state of Khilafa”.

IS is using symbolic representations of the Paris attacks to garner new recruits.

A sophisticated pre-prepared image of an intrepid fighter walking away from a Paris engulfed in flames was quickly distributed. It is inscribed with the word “France under fire” in Arabic and French.

IS had its ‘France under fire’ image ready to post immediately after the attacks. INSITE on Terrorism

InFAMOUS IGN Entertainment Games

This image keys into the heroic tropes of online video gaming, such as prototype and inFAMOUS. Chillingly, it is designed to turn virtual warriors into actual warriors.

The five million young Muslims in France are particular targets. Among online recruitment materials are videos calling them to join other young French nationals who are with IS.

Prototype hifisnap

Support for the victims in Paris and for the democratic values of liberty, equality and fraternity are embedded in the blue, white and red lights movement. These lights shone in major cities in the US, Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Taiwan and South America. The blue, white and red lights also were displayed in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Malaysia.

However, the light displays were seen in few countries with Muslim majorities overall. Such countries are in an invidious position. Display the lights and you may be characterized as a lackey of the West. Don’t display the lights and appear unsympathetic to the victims.

Facebook blue white and red Paris author provided/courtesy J. Smith

Support also is embedded in a parallel Facebook function that allows members to activate a tri-colour filter. Adapted from a rainbow filter used to support same-sex marriage, this filter attracts those with liberal sentiments.

The question of whether to use the French flag to show sympathy for the victims is invidious at a personal level. Many people find themselves exploited and condemned to poverty by neoliberal economic models. They are put in a difficult position. They feel sympathy for the victims. However, they are bitter about how they are being treated by “the West”, including France.

Perils of an ‘us and them’ mindset

As the blue, white and red activism plays out around the globe, there is a potential for this to transform into a symbolic manifestation of an “us and them” mentality. Such a division would support xenophobic forces, which steer recruits towards IS.

The global impact of the attacks can be related to the iconic status of Paris. The attacks hold a personal dimension for millions of people who have visited this city. They have a sense of “there but for the grace of God, go I”. This emotion echoes responses to the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

The Japanese and Italian cafes included in the attacks are symbolic targets for their countries. In March 2015, IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnan stated that the group would attack “Paris, before Rome”. Rome is a target because of its symbolic role as the centre of Christianity. Japan is a target because of its role in coalition forces. It has already suffered the execution of Japanese hostages early in 2015.

In Japan, the cultural reaction has been relatively low key, as part of a strategy of minimising terrorist attention. The blue, white and red lights solidarity received minimal press coverage. There have been few reports of the Japanese restaurant that was one of the targets. In addition to factual coverage of the attacks, Japanese reports have concentrated on implications for security at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Are there any symbols indicating good news? The Syrian passport found near the body of one of the attackers could be a sign of weakness. It could have been “planted” there – why carry a passport on a suicide mission?

If so, its purpose is to increase European xenophobia and encourage the closing of borders to Syrian refugees. This suggests the mass exodus of Muslim refugees from Syria is hurting IS. The propaganda could be a sign of alarm in IS leadership ranks.

In our responses to the Paris attacks, the grief of the West should not be allowed to overshadow the opprobrium of Muslim countries. Muslims are best placed to challenge the Islamic identity of this self-declared state.

As Queen Rania states, the war against IS must be led by Muslims and Arabs. To ensure success, the international community needs to support, not lead, Muslim efforts.

This article orginally appeared in The Conversation