I was born in New Zealand and have always been a farmer save for a few years in mine management. I moved to Australia in 1981 with my parents who had three sons interested in farming and this would never have been a possibility of aspiring to in New Zealand at that time. We purchased a 7305 acre woolgrowing property at Ballendean in southern Queensland and this was where I was first introduced to the challenges of farming in a very different land – both with regard to the climate and quality of soils!
I soon came to understand and appreciate the challenges this landscape presented and to apply all that I knew and felt to improving the capability of each and every place I have lived on since this time. Long before carbon farming was ever spoken of I modified grazing strategies and stocking rates to manage with the belief that every year was a drought year and so I had to maintain at all times a more than adequate groundcover and feed reserves not only to maintain animal production but to improve organic matter levels and water holding capabilities of the land I stewarded.
In those early years whilst working extensively in intensive horticulture I also fell ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a result of chemical use on enterprises I worked in. This experience hastened my journey down the pathway of sustainable and organic agriculture. I am passionate about my belief that our health is dependant upon the health of the food we eat, which is dependant upon the health of the soils on which the foodstuffs – be they animal or plant – are raised. Our health and perhaps more importantly the health of our descendants and the earth itself is dependant upon each and every one of us leaving the land, in whatever capacity we have stewardship of it, in a better state than when we assumed that stewardship. This is true of a suburban backyard or of thousands of acres – the size does not matter.
You can read more about my business ventures in garden renovations, counselling/coaching and grazing management consulting here on our website.
Hello and welcome :) I come from a long line of farmers and have followed my passion and lived, studied and worked in agriculture my whole life. I love learning and have studied a Bachelor of Rural Science at UNE and a Master of Agriculture degree. I have completed many other courses in Agriculture and business fields over my 30 year career in agriculture, including a Permaculture Design Certificate.
Whilst I have collected formal qualifications I have come to realise that it is not the pieces of paper you collect that count - it is the practical knowledge you acquire at the University of Life that is the most precious generator of wisdom there is. With over 25 years of experience in agriculture as a farmer, Rural Financial Counsellor, agricultural extension and consulting I love working with farmers to transform their lives, businesses and landscapes.
My story: I held on to the handle bar in the old landcruiser as we bounced across the paddock tracks checking on our wheat crops. What happened there? I asked my husband as I noticed a strip in the wheat crop that was stunted and sick. ‘That’s where the fertiliser rig ran out’ he explained. I was devastated by the realisation that the soils on our farm were so depleted that a wheat plant could barely survive with out fertilizer. We were farming what was commonly viewed in the farming community as some of the most fertile soils in the country in the renowned “Golden Triangle” at Croppa Creek in northern NSW. These soils had supported my husband’s parents well. They were successful, innovative farmers who grew prize winning profitable crops which enabled them to gradually purchase 4 properties covering 5000 acres of prime cropping country in their farm business venture. Old time locals had talked of the days when these soils were new and required very little in the way of fertiliser inputs. Now here we were 20 years later with a lifeless soil that was nothing more than a hydroponic medium for adding nutrients to.
This was the moment I realised how vital a healthy soil is if you are to have a viable farming business. I knew instantly that this was part of the challenge we faced in implementing a succession plan to keep the farm in the family. In this moment I saw how the next generation of farmers were going to struggle to survive, inheriting large debts to buy out the older generation and inheriting soils that were depleted of nutrients. This was clearly not a recipe for success!
Our farming career lasted only a few more years after this moment. Family break down due to succession planning conflicts meant my husband was struggling to function and was imploding emotionally and numbing himself with alcohol. Financially we were pushed to our limits trying to pay our debts to the bank and lease payments on land from my parents in law. Mother Nature had thrown every thing at us other than a locust plague! Floods, droughts, weather damaged grain, dryland cotton crops with insecticide resistant Heliothis caterpillars…
The family ended up making the decision to sell the farm and my marriage ended around the same time. I vividly remember driving away from the farm on April Fools day 2001. Myself, my two young sons and the dog heading off in the car down the dusty, bumpy gravel road dodging potholes as I sang along to the song “I’m walking away” playing on the radio. I felt a huge sense of relief as we headed towards our new life. A new life away from financial stress, emotional abuse, family conflict, alcohol induced dramas, living in an environment surrounded by toxic chemicals. I could finally breathe and relax, a huge weight had been lifted.
These challenging experiences have been a huge influence on the person I have become and they provided me with invaluable experiential wisdom in my work with farmers. I have always had a fascination for biodynamics and permaculture even before I knew what they were. I have felt a calling towards these regenerative farming models and living and working in the high input treadmill of a conventional farming system served as a catalyst for me to explore these further. How wonderful to share this journey of biodynamic growing with Angus who had also had his share of negative experiences working in conventional farming systems.
So this is why I do what I do. What drives my passion to work with farmers to encourage them improve their natural resource base to create a viable farm business. Why we love to share aspects of our journey with you here on the blog. Why we are enthusiastic about regenerating our soil through simple methods of rotational grazing and biodynamics. Why we avoid the high input approach. This is what drives us to offer coaching services to those of you who feel some support on your journey could be beneficial. Please get in touch via email if you wish to discuss further or would like a chat to see if working together would be a good fit.
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