Women doing it backwards and in high heels

John Woden

Today is International Women’s Day. It is a day that holds quite a bit of significance for me. 10 years ago I was selected my local MP as the regional Woman of the Year which saw me then inducted into the NSW state Government Honour Role for my contribution to agriculture and rural and regional communities.

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I remember at the time being totally flabbergasted that I had been nominated let alone selected

Being upfront as I tend to be I asked my MP why he chose me. He said he had chosen me not so much for what I had achieved at that point in time but what he believed I could do with this level of recognition.

How right he was. Up until this time no matter who I approached for funding, for support for agriculture, for policy changes etc. etc. I spent the first half of my meetings and funding proposals explaining who I was and convincing people I had the capacity to achieve what I wanted to achieve.

Before I won this award the key questions I was asked who I was and who was supporting my proposal? So I spent hours and hours requesting letters of support and building partnerships. All time well spent for future endeavours but it was very draining at the time and I kept questioning myself and why I was doing it. I got a lots of no’s and very few yes’ and more doors where shut than were opened.

So part of the last ten years with this very wise advice from my MP and my support networks has been spent building a CV that lets people know what you have done and opens the door and allows you to focus on core business and your compelling value proposition.

There will always be detractors who don’t see the big picture and declare this as self-promotion. This used to worry me, not anymore. I know longer spend hours beating myself up over what the minority think and say because I have witnessed personally how far young people in agriculture can go and what they can achieve for the greater good when they are recognised and celebrated for their efforts 

Equally when I see women in Australian agriculture nominated and celebrated (including seven Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions) via the Emerald Grains Women in Australian Agribusiness list, I am very proud all these exciting and dynamic women understand the importance of and relish the opportunity to inspire others to join them in their quest to see Australian agriculture admired and valued right across the globe

Today I salute all women across the world that will be recognised and celebrated for ‘their achievements, regardless of divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political’.

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

“Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” John Woden

If you are looking for a fun read try Recline. Don’t Lean in Why

Archibull wins the Event of the Year at Trangie Australia Day Awards!!

Lifetime highlights abound

Action for Agriculture

What a 48 hours the Archibull Prize has had

It started with an overwhelming response from primary schools to the call out for Expressions of Interest for the 2014 Archibull Prize in the Junior Landcare Newsletter

I am beginning to think school teachers work dairy farmers hours The emails started at 4 in the morning and continued till 11pm last night and started again at 5.30am this morning. How exciting to see schools so eager to be involved 

Then this – does it get any better than this –  The Archibull Prize has won the Event of the Year at Trangie Australia Day Awards!!

“The success of the project has been an enormous promotion of Trangie across the whole of Australia. It has absolutely put Trangie on the map!”

Archibull wins Event of the Year

Excerpt from the Narromine News

But wait there is more the Junior Citizen of the Year was Pat Skinner

Pat is…

View original post 164 more words

The 2013 Grand Champion Archibull Prize winner is

There is no denying 2013 has been a big year for me with the highlight yesterday being the Award and Exhibition Ceremony that revealed the Winner of the Grand Champion Archibull for 2013

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Sharing the highlights from Art4AgricultureChat

The judges have travelled over 4500km to talk to the students and view their artwork. They have spent 1000’s of hours reading blogs and reviewing PowerPoint and video entries and now the points have been collated.

The awards venue has been found, the finalists have been announced, the herd rounded up and loaded, invitations sent, community fund raising events have been held to fly rural students to Sydney, Young Farming Champions have packed their bags to take the road trip, special guests will be there and tension is mounting    .

Now in the spirit of building that tension even further before we make the big announcement lets take a quick reflection on why it all began  

Everybody has to eat, everybody needs to wear clothes, everybody needs to have shelter. Yet like many other people around the world Australians tend to give very little thought to the origins of where our food and fibre comes from let alone the people who grow and produce it.

As passionate producers and loud and proud producer AGvocates the team at Art4Agriculture found this sad but also exciting.

We saw this disconnect as a great opportunity to jump in and join the next generation mosh pit of bright minds and ideas for unbridled thinking and questioning and come up with new ways of having powerful conversations and forging new boundary-busting connections between producers and consumers.

What better way to do this than tap into areas that agriculture wouldn’t normally reach through art and multimedia and leverage off Australia’s most famous art prize

Hence the Archibull Prize was born.

Each year the Archibull Prize Awards and Exhibition Ceremony brings bright young Australian minds and their big ideas together to share agriculture’s story through art and multimedia

Each year the ideas get bigger, the innovation seems apparently unparalleled and the technology mind-blowing

Without further ado it gives Art4Agriculture great pleasure to introduce the winners in all three categories and the Grand Champion Archibull for 2013

1.The  Champion Primary School Archibull Prize Winner is Gwynneville Public School Gwyneville Public School with Claudia Whythes-001l

The Gwynneville team with Claudia Wythes  from AWI

 

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Gwynneville Public School, Wollongong  artwork entry Baa Baa Bovine

Visit their amazing blog Moo2Ewe 

 

2. The Winner of Champion Archibull Prize (Program B) is Trangie Central School

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L to R A/G Director General Dept. of Primary Industries Michael Bullen, Richie Quigley Team Trangie Central School with Sara McGrath

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Trangie Central School with their artwork masterpiece combination of technology and innovation

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Visit the Trangie Central School blog here

Watch their video entry here

 

DRUM ROLL

The winner of the Champion Archibull Program A and the Grand Champion Archibull Prize for 2013 is Shoalhaven High School

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Shoalhaven High School with A/G Director General of Department of Primary Industries Michael Bullen and Sara McGrath

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Visit the Shoalhaven High School Blog here

Watch their award winning video here

 

To view the event video and see all the action

 

Once we have all the official photos we will load all the results

Congratulations to all the schools and students involved you have all done agriculture very proud

Some great pix by Sally White from The Land can be found here

To see the winner of the People’s Pick visit here

Schools deliver an auditory and visual blast

Yesterday afternoon I attended the most incredible event. The organisation, the style and the superb food  and innovative menu would have done Prince Harry proud

Barrack Heights Public School who are competing in the 2013 Archibull Prize held a launch party to celebrate the finishing of their artwork and the students and teachers involved

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The party was coordinated Julie Debnam supported by class teacher extraorinaire Natalie Harris (above) the room was decorated in everything black and white to celebrate  Australia’s most popular breed of the dairy cow – the Holstein

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Now a COW on a surfboard is not something you see every day, but it’s part of the Barrack Heights Public School Archibull Club’s grand vision for their fibreglass cow, Brocco. I will let the art judge share with you after judging all the very clever elements of the Cow Art

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The 25 students taking part in the Archibull Prize competition this year, decorated their Archie with paint and recyclable materials to showcase their theme, “looking after waterways”.

Their Archie ‘Brocco’ is now covered in colours, a map of Australia’s rivers and indigenous artwork.

Yesterday was a celebration of all things dairy including the menu created by Azarak Experimental Kitchen owner and head chef Shane Debnam

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Those who have dined at Azarak  know we are always about surprises, and for the Archibull, we are surprises abound. We will be charging yoghurt with NO2, churning a milk sorbet with dry ice, smoking milk with hay, steeping milk in straw and souring it to make a soft curd, and wrapping beef in pastoral lucerne, and cooking it sous vide for six hours at 53’c. Like I said; Azarak is always about surprises. says Shane

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Inspiration for the Archibull menu was drawn from the local urban and suburban environment. We will utilise localised foraging to enhance the menu items, paired with our unique brand of approaching ingredients in a scientific, and classical manner.

The best part about using dairy is the versatility of the core ingredient. Dairy encompasses milk, cheeses, yoghurts, sorbets, gelatos, and beef itself. We also want to showcase the local rural and urban environment, with sustainable foraging, pairing it with the best in handmade yoghurts, soft curd and sorbet.

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Our five course degustation auditory and visual sensation

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Cant wait to get permission to show the delight on the students faces to have the opportunity to participate in this experience that saw them create ice-cream through a haze of dry ice

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Special thanks to Shane and Parmalat for providing the opportunity for all the students to have access to the perfect nutrient cocktail that is dairy

However I must admit the most rewarding part of the experience for me and the wonderful team behind Art4Agricuture was the feedback from the teachers, parents and students.

This is the best experience the school has ever participated in said headmistress Sarah Rudling

Ms Harris said it is great for the students to see a project come together over such a long period of time. “They really love the involvement and seeing it grow.”

Although the students have loved painting their cow, teacher Natalie Harris says they have been most excited when learning about their assigned industry, dairy.

“The kids love it because, one, they get to be involved in a huge art project with a lot of different aspects to it, but also because they’re involved in something they don’t know a lot about,” she says.

“Ninety per cent of it is working on the cow, but 10 per cent is looking at sustainable farming. I think in a way they’ve loved that part more.”

“Not a lot of our kids have been to farms, I think in the group there was about four that had been to a farm.

“For them to able to get some information about the farming industry . . . they have really enjoyed being able to find out where does milk come from, how they look after animals, what a farmer actually does.”

Ms Harris says many parents have told her that their kids have asked them to buy locally-produced milk rather than cartons from the major supermarket brands after their research into the Illawarra dairy industry.

The Archibull Club has also learnt about recycling and the impact rubbish can have on waterways, which Ms Harris says has led to students making a conscious effort to recycle and pick up rubbish at school.

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They reminded us all the well being of our planet is the responsibility of everyone

THE CHALLENGE WHAT CAN YOU DO

The Challenge – WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Last words from Natalie Harris 

That was the most parents that have ever attended a school function.

Thanks again 🙂 I have just loved the whole project

Follow Barrack Heights Public School journey through their blog here

If you would like to check out Azarak Experimental Kitchen on Facebook, please follow the link here.   Don’t forget to like their page!

How the cows bring life to the landscape

I call my little piece of the world paradise and for good reason. If gives me great pleasure to wake up very early every morning and breathe it all in.

These days the wonder of it all starts to bring joy to my heart around 5.30am and I spend many mornings on my front verandah just trying to capture the sheer beauty of it all with my camera

This week I was reminded just how much the cows add a whole new dimension to the word ‘landscape’ 

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Whatever my legacy it will always give me great pride to have spent the last 35 years of my life enhancing and sustaining this very special part of the world.

And just to reinforce my point this incredible photo was taken (not by me) just ten minutes from the farm 

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The Milky Way above the coast of Kiama

Robots bring the cows home

Everybody who knows me knows that the last thing I ever wanted to do was farm but when the people I love most in the world decided that was what they both wanted to do I wanted to make sure that farming would deliver the best possible life for them. 

Now lets not kid ourselves only the very brave farm in a world where supermarkets control the supply chain and the people who run the supermarkets in the main have absolutely no idea of the challenges and constraints farmers face today to farm in a socially acceptable way in the 21st century.

There is something else about farming that excites me beyond my wildest dreams and that is the innovation and technology and the resilience of Australian farmers and great minds who help them feed and clothe not only in Australian consumers but many other people around the world. So I am so excited to be able to share this story with you.

Now as my regular readers know the Australian dairy industry so frustrates me. Driven by the mindset at Dairy Australia our farmers are forced to live in this cocooned world that means they rarely get to interact with all the other exciting people who not only farm in other industries but also the amazing people who support people in other industries.

One shining light is the Dairy Research Foundation (DRF) team and the Future Dairy Project. These people are amazing beyond belief and I am so honoured to sit on the board of the DRF and have insights into what is happening with the Future Dairy Project            

Let me show you what I mean

With increasing numbers of Australian dairy cows now being milked by robots, researchers are looking at a range of exciting ways to use robots on farm, and one that has already shown promise is the use of robots to herd cattle from the paddock to the dairy.

Delegates at the Dairy Research Foundation’s symposium, to be held at Kiama on 4 & 5th of July will get a sneak peak of Rover, a prototype robot, in action.

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Cows at the University of Sydney’s Corstophine farm were unfazed by the presence of a robot which herded the cows out of the paddock calmly and efficiently

Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Dairy Science Group and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, have used an unmanned ground vehicle (robot) to herd dairy cows out of the paddock.

Dairy researcher Associate Professor Kendra Kerrisk said the team was amazed at how easily the cows accepted the presence of the robot.

“They weren’t at all fazed by it and the herding process was very calm and effective,” Dr Kerrisk said.

“As well as saving labour, robotic herding would improve animal wellbeing by allowing cows to move to and from the dairy at their own pace.”

The robot was developed by researchers at the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics for tree and fruit monitoring on tree-crop farms. It was used in the initial trial with very little modification for the dairy paddock.

We are keen to explore further opportunities with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics. They have a range of robotic technologies which could have exciting applications on dairy farms,” Dr Kerrisk said.

“While the robot showed exciting potential for use on a dairy farm, it would need to be adapted to operate autonomously on the terrain of dairy farms and its programing would need be customised for dairy applications.”

In addition to robotic herding, some of the possible applications include collecting pasture and animal data in the paddock; monitoring calving and alerting the manger if attention is needed and identifying and locating individual cows in the paddock.

“The research is in its very early stages but robotic technologies certainly have the potential to transform dairy farming, in terms of reducing repetitive work, increasing the accuracy of data that farmers collect and making data available that we currently can’t capture.

“Robotic technologies will have a role in increasing the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of Australia’s dairy farms,” Dr Kerrisk said.

Does agriculture get anymore exciting than this and let me assure this is not reducing jobs in the dairy industry it just means we can now attract the best and the brightest minds. 

If you want to come and see Rover in action to register for the Dairy Research Foundation Symposium visit www.drfsymposium.com.au 

 

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Far too many untold stories

As my readers know I am a proud farmer,and that says a lot as the last thing I ever wanted to do was farm. But until I took on the role of sharing my farming story there was so much about farming beyond the dairy industry that I knew so little about. This is one of the reasons I became a Climate Champion which offered me a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet other like minded farmers from other industries and wow what an awakening and life changing experience that has been. It truly saddens me that I am the only dairy farmer that has been funded to have this opportunity

The National Farmers Federation has done a great job of helping me expand my knowledge by creating this great little resource – Farm Facts. Which the very clever Craig Taylor has summarised in what I believe tells the story innovatively, simply and succinctly.of how are farmers are doing a brilliant job of producing more from less (and that’s the key to successful sustainable  farming in this country) 

    

One of the things that still fascinates me is despite the vastness of our country just how little of it we can grow food on and how precious our natural resources are to sustain our standard of living now and in the future.

Yes we all know Australia is a pretty big place and what most of us don’t realise (including me until recently) is believe it or not over 60% of it is owned, managed and cared for by Australian farmers. To put this into perspective the white bits on the map below are the 40% of Australia that are classified as non agricultural land.Agricultural Land in Australia,

What’s even harder to believe is that only 6% of our agricultural land is suitable for growing food. This means our 134,000 farmers have a huge amount of land between them that doesn’t generate an income   It therefore goes without saying that Australian farmers are at the frontline of delivering environmental outcomes on behalf of the Australian community and they have a very big unpaid gardening/park keeping gig in any man’s language. I was as flabbergasted as most people when I found out these statistics that overall  94% of what farmers own and manage returns them no direct in your pocket benefit. As one of those farmers of which 50% of our farm is pristine rainforest it does however give great satisfaction and warms your heart to see it support diverse native vegetation and wildlife.

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Can you just imagine what its like following the cows home through this – I can tell you its doesn’t get much better

However its very clear as many of our farmers readily admit they don’t have the skillsets nor the time to do all of this gardening alone. Luckily Australia has a whole team of very special professionals called natural resource managers who partner with farmers to help them get the best outcomes for Australia’s scare natural resources.

I wrote parts of this blog post to share this great story about the cotton industry and the exciting young people who eyes are being opened to just what some of our Champion Industries and their great farmers are achieving not just for themselves but for the wider community. You can read it here and be as proud as me   

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Some of our great young farmers and natural resource managers who are working together to care for Australia’s scarce natural resources

History is remembered by how the historians write it

When I first started writing this blog just over 12 months ago it was (or so I thought) an opportunity to share with the community and provide insights into what happens on our dairy farm and the diverse ways beyond the farm gate I use to share that story and advocate for the people and the places behind the food we eat     .

Now as it turns out my readers are invariably much more interested in my agri-political commentary so these days my posts tend to be more about the challenges of farming and the supply chain that delivers the milk from my farm to your glass. That’s fine that’s what my readers want.

For me it has become a record of my life and the way I think and feel about a number of things. Its also an outlet and a hobby ( of which I have too few). Its cathartic. There are times when the web that strangles agriculture so frustrates me I want to scream so I sit down and I vent through my blog and I feel better and I can get on with life and and have a productive day. I love the feedback. Its like having a huge virtual support network  to get you through the tough times

It has other advantages too.  My father is an avid reader of my blog. As I am dreadful at keeping in touch with family and friends the blog helps make up for this flaw in my personality

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I have been hassling my father for quite some time to write me some guest blog posts and share with my readers some insights into his life growing up on the dairy farm. Remember this is the man who constantly told me growing up “Lynne never learn to milk a cow” so obviously dairy farming wasn’t his idea of the ideal career pathway. I am not sure if he jinxed me but I did try once to milk cows and it was a disaster and I quickly learnt to stick at what I do best

Whilst I was in WA in November last year I took the opportunity to visit my father’s brother and his wife  – the gorgeous Uncle Dave and Aunty Ros,  In an effort to gain family solidarity in my drive to get my father blogging his family history I told my Aunt and Uncle of my plan and how I thought it would help greatly if we had some photos

I was very excited when Uncle Dave and Aunty Ros said they believe they have some photos going back to when my dad was just a youngster in boxes in their garage (mine are in boxes in my roof – that goodness for the new digital age) and they are unearthing them for me and then we can see if these ‘blasts from the past’  give my father the necessary inspiration

What they have unearthed to date is this

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That’s me on the left with Uncle Dave on his wedding day. My cousin and I were flower girls. I was thrilled to see I was even a fashion icon way back then with pink glasses to match the pink flower girl dress.

BTW Dad you are on notice – its time to start tapping on that iPad

Mirror Mirror Do you like what you see?

Last Saturday was no ordinary day in the life of this dairy farmer and the Bundanon Siteworks event FUTURE FOOD FEAST A DAY OF TALKING, EATING & DOING still has my head spinning.

Gretel Killeen was a last minute replacement for Jenny Brockie as the panel facilitator which required a green room huddle to allow her to get up to speed on who the panel was and what motivated us. What was great about this was it meant the panellists also got insights into each other. It soon became obvious the afternoon would open my mind to many new ideas and concepts that I was positive would be equally exciting to the audience.  

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Gretel Killeen filled in as facilitator after Jenny Brockie broke her arm

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I was lucky enough to share a lunch table with fellow panellist and future architect Mike McCallum who as it turns out also has an extensive background in the dairy industry

Lynne Strong and the Panel

The Panel: LtoR Gretel Killeen, Lynne Strong, Jared Ingersoll, Mike McCallum, Jodie Newcombe, John Crawford and Ingrid Just.

I was there to share my story and listen and learn and did just that. The conversation went for more than 2 hours and to do it justice I am asking each of the panellists to write a guest blog. You will be excited to know Chef Jared Ingersoll and Mike McCallum have already been asked and agreed.  

To start of off just a few thoughts from me.

  • I know there are a million things I can do to reduce my footprint and I am always saddened that people see our present and future challenges as wicked problems – i.e. too big for them as individuals to make a difference. As Jarod said “ broad scale change starts when one person does something”. By the way here are some things you can do http://www2.acfonline.org.au/
  • I am amazed that people think there is always a way to make the planet fit the the lifestyle we have created for ourselves and refuse to believe that what we think is good for us is too often not good for the planet. For example the suggestion that we protect prime agriculture land and reduce our footprint by more people living in one house or our buildings should go up rather than out and we share white goods and cars was met with shock horror by one audience participant and he was very upfront about it. 
  • I cant believe how many people must think farming is easy. There was a suggestion from the audience that the answer to prime agriculture land being gobbled up by housing was for the government to pay the people in the houses incentives to grow food on their land. Isn’t that subsidised farming and just when will these people find the time and where will they get the skills sets?  There was the idea that instead of supporting rural and regional and remote Australia everyone moves to the cities and urban agriculture will grow all our food. We then let rural, regional and remote Australia go back to the “way it was” and it be a community space. Wouldn’t the  government love that one. With farmers now looking after 61% of the Australian landscape imagine what a huge impost looking after all that land would be on taxpayers let alone the infrastructure et al required to grow all our food in and around millions of people.
  • I am always saddened by some people’s perceptions of modern farming practices and that their knowledge comes from things they had heard or read about rather than seen. There was mention of factory farmed cows being fed cement dust and the answer to everything was to farm organic. As Professor Crawford reminded people there was no evidence to show that organic per se led to better environmental or animal welfare outcomes. Poor old cows got a bit of bashing as usual. People forget or are unaware that only 2% of Australia is suitable for growing crops and what a great job cows in Australia do maintaining the thousands and thousand of hectares of rangelands in this country and no-one in Australia is chopping down rainforest to graze cows
  • I was pleased to see people do value farmers and believe we should value food at its true price and panellist Ingrid Just from Choice talked about the “heart and the hip” scenario and I look forward to her sharing that with you.
  • I was pleased to overhear that I was not the “usual angry farmer”. Its disappointing our farmers are often perceived this way. It was very obvious the community would love to work with us to achieve a value chain that really values people from paddock to plate.   
  • I was also found I had a lot to learn for the diverse knowledge of the other panellists and I am very pleased to be able to off them space to share that with you in the coming weeks

Back to “Mirror Mirror do you like what you see?”  Pam Green posed this question in her summing up of the panel discussion. Here is what Pam saw as the key take away messages

  • There is a coming storm of many ‘peaks’ – water, soil, oil, current centralised systems, biodiversity. There is only one water, one planet.
  • A functioning, healthy environment is the key to health, well being and prosperity.
  • A raised awareness/mindfulness/shift in consciousness is essential.
  • Awareness, education and making it easy and economical is key to enabling good choices.
  • There is a need to develop new traditions to support new values – real value of food in social, cultural, environmental and economic terms.
  • Growing ideas as well as food important. Artists are innovators and develop creative space for change.
  • There is a need for better awareness of true account for use of natural resources – what is the carbon or environmental footprint of food production what are the transparent trade offs in land use change for housing, mining, other uses? National environmental accounts to be viewed along side of our national economic accounts.
  • The importance of connectivity – joined up thinking about the whole web of life. Humans are part of this web but we need to manage our change of the rest of the biosphere with the future in mind.
  • We need to envision the future, map a path to it and start the journey.
  • Local leadership is critical. We are on the cusp of a new age of networked and distributed economy and society.
  • Society is the mirror of our collective humanness

Mirror, mirror on the wall, do we like what we see? We are the change we seek. Well said Pam                

By the way for those of you not familiar with the venue Bundanon is Arthur and Yvonne Boyd’s gift to the Australian people. The property managed by a Trust includes the Bundanon Homestead site and the Riversdale site and is located on 1,100 hectares of pristine bush land overlooking the Shoalhaven River, near Nowra in New South Wales, two and a half hours south of Sydney. The Trust’s Board of Directors reports directly to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, who in turn appoints the Chairperson and the Directors.

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Bundanon House

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Arthur Boyd’s studio at Bundanon – photo by Keith Saunders

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We had tea at the Riversdale Education Centre in this amazing building designed by Glenn Murcutt. Yes that is the Shoalhaven River you see in the background and I thought I lived in paradise.

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The Riversdale Exterior 

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There are art forms everywhere you look

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There was something for everyone

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Local foodie and cafe owner Cathy Law manned the Green Box Stand

 

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We dined on Bundanon Beef and Farm Manager Henry Goodall created a Paddock to Plate video which was available for viewing in the Bundanon Homestead.  He also tanned the hide which is the rug you see on the floor

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The farmers Henry Goodall and Lynne Strong ( proving she has a very big mouth)

 

There is more to come