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Farmday 2009
20 Jun 2009
Published To
Description

Farm Day forges rural-urban friendships

Key points:

• Farm Day aims to help city dwellers better understand rural life. • About 65% of Australians under the age of 35 have never been on a farm. • The Wains, of Mundubbera, hosted their first city family in May and were so impressed by the experience, they want to do Farm Day again next year. • The Healey family said the experience opened their eyes to how time-demanding farming was.

Farm Day 2009 was more than just a country adventure for the Healey family, of Narangba, it was the forging of a new friendship which bridged the rural-urban divide.

The Healeys live 40 minutes drive from Brisbane and signed on to the annual program after seeing it in the RACQ Magazine. They thought it would be a fun insight into farming.

Jane Healey, a customer service officer and mother of two, said the experience was amazing.

“It was better than I ever thought it would be. It is such a different way of life, their work never stops,” she said. “Graeme and I both work fulltime for the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads and our jobs are 9 to 5. On weekends we switch off but they can’t. There is always something to do.”

The Healeys were matched up with the Wain family, of Mundubbera, and treated to a day of mustering and stock feeding on their 8907ha beef, sheep and hay enterprise.

Hosts Lisa and Jasen Wain have three children aged 20, 16 and 13, and are third generation farmers in their district. They signed up for the Farm Day program because they thought it important urban Australia gain a better understanding of their industry, particularly in light of Meat & Livestock Australia research, which shows about 65% of Australians, under the age of 35, have never visited a farm .

“We took them mustering on one of our four blocks. They followed along in the ute and learnt all about opening gates while our kids were on the horses. Our 13-year-old is our number one horse operator,” Jasen said.

"We also took them to our breeder property where we brought in a truckload of weaners. Then, in the afternoon, we threw a rump steak on the barbie and talked.”

Jasen said he and Lisa, who is treasurer of the Queensland Rural Women’s Network, would love to repeat the experience next year.

“We’d do it again for sure. The more city people take part, the more they realise that farming isn’t just a money-making venture, it’s a way of life. It’s not easy work, it’s seven days a week, 15 hours a day and there’s a lot involved for not a lot of money,” he said.

Both Lisa and Jasen hold down full-time jobs off-farm and credit their off-farm incomes for being able to expand their holdings while maintaining strong asset to debt ratios.

“We couldn’t have achieved what we have on our farm income alone, there’s no way, so farming for us fits in after work and on weekends,” Lisa said. “It’s also saved us from having to do it really tough like some farming families do.”

Jane was impressed with the Wain’s hospitality, their patience and laid-back attitude.

“I wanted to put myself in their shoes for the day and they were great, there were no hassles, they just made us feel so comfortable and at home,” she said.

“The kids bonded quickly and helped round up the sheep and feed the dogs and chooks. We got to talk a lot about their situation and every little aspect of country life from farm work to politics in small country towns and what’s available for kids.

“The experience really opened our kids’ eyes up; there’s not a school on every corner and a lot of things our kids take for granted they didn’t have.

“On the other hand, the country kids had a lot of freedom and were a real part of the business. When Lisa and Jasen were going mustering, the kids went too. They’re not told to of course, there’s just this expectation."

Jane and Graeme are hoping to organise a city day for the Wains in return.

"They certainly deserve it,” Jane said.

Farm Day is an annual program and to enrol visit www.farmday.com.au

Contact: Lisa and Jasen Wain on 07 4165 4909 and Jane Healey on 0408 351 971

Tags
Environment Primary Production Rural People
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