Victorian Landcare Magazine - Winter 2018, Issue 72

This farm needs a farmer!

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Sustainable agriculture & farming Community

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Above: From left to right, Melissa Connors holding baby Ciara, Siobhan, Aidan, and David holding Eire, enjoying rural life.

For more information about the subject of this story

Name:
Melissa Connors
Email:
Website:
www.thisfarmneedsafarmer.com.au

Melissa Connors and her partner moved to Kyneton six years ago. They bought a small property with the aim of giving their young family all the benefits of a rural lifestyle, but it wasn’t long before their lack of land management experience was causing problems.

“We bought six angus steers, but we only have four hectares. The feed quickly ran out and they were pushing through the inadequate fences looking for more grazing. Then the water pipes froze and the tank water ran out.”

“My partner was commuting to the city for work every day and I was here, pregnant, and with a toddler. We were so naïve about what was involved.”

A chance meeting with a neighbour and retired farm-worker, Noel Jenner, brought some useful local advice.

“Noel has been fantastic. His mentoring has meant we have been able to manage our land well and get the most out of it.”

It occurred to Melissa that many other tree changers were in the same situation as her family and that help was available, it was just a matter of making the right connections.

Melissa went on to establish the community development project, This Farm Needs a Farmer. The project is a networking platform that connects tree changers with retired and active farmers, local businesses, services and advice providers.

Melissa says every new tree change family has different needs and she has been fielding questions from where to find childcare to how to grow olives.

It occurred to Melissa that many other tree changers were in the same situation as her family and that help was available, it was just a matter of making the right connections.

This Farm Needs a Farmer held its first field day at Kyneton show grounds in March 2018.

“It was great to see so many locals turn up – very encouraging for the new families in the area. We hope the field day will become an annual event,” Melissa said.

Melissa and her partner, David, now have four children and just two steers on their Kyneton property.

“We don’t have a moments regret about the move,” Melissa said.

“We are in the process of establishing a small orchard on our property. The learning curve has been huge but the kids love it and the satisfaction of working on the land is enormous.”

Melissa hopes that local Landcare groups may also want to be involved.

“Tree changers are interested in managing their properties sustainably and hungry for advice and guidance,” she said.

Melissa Connors was awarded the prestigious 2018 Victorian AgriFuturesTM Rural Women’s Award for her work founding This Farm Needs a Farmer.

Melissa will receive a $10,000 bursary to help implement her project. She will also attend the Australian Institute of Directors’ Course in Canberra and have an opportunity to become the national award winner, who will be announced in September.

For further information: go to www.thisfarmneedsafarmer.com.au or email Melissa Connors at needsafarmer@gmail.com

 

 

Explore other articles about

Sustainable agriculture & farming Community


For more information about the subject of this story

Name:
Melissa Connors
Email:
Website:
www.thisfarmneedsafarmer.com.au