Introducing Sally Edwards. Sally and her husband Grahame live on a beef cattle operation near Coolah in NSW.
1. Summary of your family and farming enterprise
My husband Grahame and I have been married for nine years. We have two children, Brendon 4 and Jessi 3. Grahame grew up on his family’s beef cattle property, ‘The Little Manning’, near Gloucester and has always lived for working on the land and with cattle.
I too grew up in Gloucester, and was a nearby neighbour to Grahame and his family. We travelled on the school bus together and wound up together while I was still in high school. We started our life together working side by side in the hospitality industry on a luxury resort in the Barrington Tops. From there we worked and travelled throughout NSW, NT and QLD. Always finding ourselves employed directly or indirectly by one of the many agricultural industries.
We love people, we love farming and agriculture and we love being a part of such vital industries. The operation that employs Grahame today breeds and raises Angus cattle and aside from being a satisfying job for Grahame is a great lifestyle for our family for which we are very grateful.
2. For you, what is the best lifestyle factor that you enjoy as a farmer?
It would have to be the wide open spaces. Being able to walk out your door, take a deep breath of clean fresh air and look over beautiful countryside, see content grazing cattle, listen to the birds and be able to watch the weather roll in (or not!).
The other big plus for me, is that living rurally allows the opportunity to be part of a great rural community. Rural communities, such as the Coolah community here, are full of people that on any given day would drop everything to help their neighbour, so to speak.
The camaraderie amongst small towns and rural communities is something very special and something that I really do count as a blessing in my life. There are many things that are part of our everyday country life, that we just couldn’t imagine living without.
The people, working to produce food for thousands, the landscapes, the wildlife… here right at home, clean crisp air, cattle, horses, working dogs, campdrafts and cattle camps, dirt, dust and mud – every little part of our lifestyle is something that we are truly thankful for.
Did I mention the open spaces?! It is all of these things and so much more that makes our life so enjoyable and satisfying.
3. What do you foresee as your biggest short term and long term challenges in farming? (e.g. Global debt? Food Security? Water Security? National Security? Carbon Tax? Other?)
Although there are many major issues facing the agricultural sector at present, a big challenge as I see it, will be engaging new Australian farming families, or keeping enough Australian families farming in the future (into the next generation). We need to continue producing (and improving) the quantity and quality of foods and fibres to sustain our country and others for which we are so widely recognised for.
To get started in a farming business today is tough and with the average Australian farmer aged 50 and over, it worries me that if a greater understanding in agriculture isn’t reached, that the major issues farmers face will aid to decline the number of Australian farmers.
Global food security is crucial and with Australian farming land being sourced by overseas investors, and without new and improved policies that support Australian agriculture, I worry about the future and what the average Australian lifestyle will look like in 20 years?
4. What do you wish non-farmers / city people & the Australian Government understood about farming. What message would you like to put on a billboard in Collins Street?
Have you ever counted calories for just one day? Why not count farmers for just one day? How many farmers does it take to sustain your family for just one day?
It might be a little confronting but go on, have a crack! Every meal, every mouthful, check every product, every item of clothing, the sheets on your bed… Start the moment your eyes open in the morning, until the moment your head hits the pillow at night.
Being mindful, is something that so often we are simply too busy for. Write it down. How many hours, weeks, months or years and how many famers did it take to produce that set of sheets, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 weet-bix, pair of jeans, a slice of bread, bowl of noodles, glass of milk, punnet of sprouts, leather handbag…
If we take the time to all be mindful, with support from families from all walks of life across Australia, the farming industries can better face tomorrow’s challenges and continue to provide clean, fresh and sustainable products for us all to enjoy.
It is not a matter of choice, whether we know it or not we all need Aussie farmers and the products that they produce, it is just a matter of whether we realise it early enough!
Sally hasn’t mentioned it here but she is an amazing photographer! You can see her photo’s on her website here: www.eacos.com.au.