13 February 2023
As I prepare to head to Canada for the Contemporary Scholars Conference in Vancouver, I have been reading lots of Nuffield Scholar reports, international and Australian reports on agriculture education, engagement, and career development, as well as researching different initiatives, ideas and programs. Agriculture education has been the focus of other Nuffield Scholarships (Ian Beecher Jones, 2006, UK; Becky Parker, 2016, Canada; Karol Kissane, 2018, Ireland; Clare Peltzer, 2019, Australia), and has been a theme and recommendation through others (Ali Undorf-Lay, 2008, New Zealand; Daniel Kahl, 2017, Australia; Jamie Heinrich, 2017, Australia; Olabisi Oladele, 2018, Australia; Daniel Eb, 2021, New Zealand).
It is also interesting to reflect on the history of Nuffield, and how the Nuffield Scholarships came to be. When Nuffield Australia Scholarships were first awarded in 1950, Australian Scholars were sent on the boat to England and upon their arrival given a bicycle to undertake their research and travels. Seems very fitting when you learn of the history of Lord Nuffield.
Lord Nuffield, born William Morris in Worcester in 1877, founded the Morris Motor Company in 1910 in Oxford which went onto launch some 25 different models of Morris cars including the popular Morris Minor. But before Lord Nuffield was a car manufacturer, he was a bicycle maker and avid long distance cyclist. Morris Motor Company was the first car manufactured to offer a customer satisfaction guarantee with the inclusion of a spare tyre, lights, insurance and an owner's magazine. By 1968, Morris Motor Company had become Morris Garages and came under the umbrella of British Leyland.
Lord Nuffield used his business networks, capital and knowledge to invest in other enterprises including guaranteeing the British health scheme BUPA in 1941. In 1945, the Nuffield organisation was approached to produce a British built tractor, and by 1946 the first prototypes of the Nuffield tractor were being tested, with production beginning in 1948 when steel supplies had improved.
The Nuffield Farming Scholarships commenced in 1947 in the UK with the Nuffield Crest included in the logo. The crest includes a bull from the Arms of the City of Oxford and a wheel representing Lord Nuffield's significant contribution to the motor industry. Lord Nuffield died on 22nd August 1963.
With thanks to Caroline Nixon for writing Nuffield The Man and Nuffield Crest - Keeping the Record Straight which provided such a great insight into Lord Nuffield.
28 October 2022
Entry signage to Paradise Country on the Gold Coast
When I came across the Village Roadshow Theme Park Paradise Country, I knew I needed to visit as part of exploring existing agriculture engagement initiatives in Australia. Advertised as an "authentic Aussie farm experience" the theme park is not only open to the public, and part of the Village Roadshow Theme Park Passes, but also hosts school excursions as part of their education program.
Students watching the Ranger Talk at Paradise Country
The Education Team at Village Roadshow Theme Parks organised for me to join a Year 3 excursion at Paradise Country with a school from Brisbane. Visiting Paradise Country with the students gave me a great insight into the Theme Park and how it was engaging students, schools and tourists. The students visited the Farm Yard Nursery with sheep, goats and chickens, watched arena shows on Stockmen, Working Dogs, Stock Horses, and preparing Billy Tea, had a presentation from a Ranger, met a Koala, went on a Wildlife Walk with lots of kangaroos, and finished the day with 'Shaun's Tractor Ride'.
The students were super engaged with the Ranger Talk and enjoyed the short live shows and presentations. The park itself is a mixture of old farm machinery together with Shaun the Sheep statues and references. For those visiting the park, there was a strong focus on wildlife, particularly with the additional experiences including Meerkat and Koala Encounters, and Wildlife Photos.
Paradise Country offers school excursions on a daily basis for Primary Schools across Queensland and northern NSW. The excursions are curriculum linked with the programming focusing on science outcomes such as living things and caring for the environment, and history outcomes such as knowledge of how technology has changed people's lives. In discussing the excursion with the visiting teacher, she shared that it was their second year visiting Paradise Country and the program was part of their Science Unit.
My visit to Paradise Country was certainly enlightening. And probably left me with more questions than answers... how do we balance entertainment with education? What is the role of entertainment and tourism venues to represent agriculture? How do we celebrate our history whilst still portraying an industry that is innovative and diverse?
And on the topic of entertainment, and celebrating an innovative and resilient industry, in the evening I headed to the Australian Outback Spectacular's Heartland show.
Scene in the Australian Outback Spectacular's Heartland Show
The show was amazing! A great storyline highlighting the resilience of Australian farmers, and respectfully acknowledging the toll of drought on their mental health and communities. I loved that it also touched on Climate Change, farmers adapting through technology, and the ideas of the next generation. The production, animals, set and cast were all very well done. And unforgettable with a real helicopter suspended from the roof for 'mustering'!
30 October 2022
View from Oaky Creek Farm Harvest Café overlooking their farm with fields of garlic and an orchard with lemons, limes, grapefruit, finger limes, and more!
The Scenic Rim Farm Gate Trail is an easy one hour drive from both Brisbane and the Gold Coast and provides an opportunity to meet farmers, shop locally and go home with a basket full of local produce and goodies! I was super excited to be in the area when one of the twice-yearly trails were running and had a hard time selecting which farms to visit! But I worked out an itinerary that made the most of the day, finished me up heading south, and took in the diversity on offer.
Cheese plater from Towri Sheep Cheeses (left), in the garden at Elderflower Farm (centre), and cookies by Scenic Rim Cookie Co which had a market stall at Tommerup's Dairy Farm (right)
My first stop was to Tommerup's Dairy Farm where there was an array of market stalls, live music, a farm walk feeding the animals, the cutest homemade cookies, and their farm larder was open selling their divine dairy products. I recommend the ice cream! Tommerup's is a family Guernsey dairy that regularly opens up for visitors with a farm stay, long lunches, open days, farm gate markets, school excursions, and participating in the Scenic Rim Farm Gate Trail. Their set up was very well done and informative.
Next stop was to Oaky Creek Farm & Harvest Café in the heart of the Scenic Rim custom built as a one-of-a-kind destination. I loved that as part of the Farm Gate Trail they had a map of their farm with the crops and items of interest noted. It was cool to see just how many different fruits, vegetables and herbs were grown on their land and used in the café. Next on the itinerary was a quick stop into Bee All Natural Honey in Jimboomba to take a look at their honey products from hives located across South East Queensland.
I was blown away by the set-up at artisan sheep dairy and cheesery, Towri Sheep Cheeses. The 300-acre farm has a purpose built dairy to milk 350 sheep, which they open to the public every Saturday kicking off with a milking demonstration. The farm set-up was so well done, had the best farm shop (hello cute sheep things), and cute real sheep, plus delicious cheeses!
Summer Land Camels is a camel farm producing camel milk, cheeses, gelato, and a range of skin and hair care products, as well as a farm café and shop. They are a popular tourist destination throughout the year hosting tours on most weekends and school holidays, as well as school excursions and camel rides. They sold out during the Farm Gate Trail and had additional market stalls and live music. I loved their passion to connect visitors with Australian camels and the industry.
The Scenic Rim Farm Shop was a hive of activity during the Farm Gate Trial. Not only is it home to a bustling café under towering Jacarandas which were just beautiful, but it also is home to the Elderflower Farm, and the Scenic Rim Farm Box. The Scenic Rim Farm Box is a collaboration between farmers and the local council to connect producers and consumers by delivering fresh, healthy produce into Brisbane every week.
My final stop on the Farm Gate Trail was Scenic Rim Mushrooms. And it blew me away for ingenuity! The town's disused Bowling Club is now home to a mushroom farm, producing an array of mushrooms for locals and restaurants, and providing growing and cooking classes. Again, there was additional market stalls on site, opening the opportunity for more businesses to be involved in the Farm Gate Trail then just those with a farm.
The day was great insight into the diversity of produce from the Scenic Rim (and I didn't get to every open farm)! I was very fortunate to be travelling through when this event was on, and to see how as a collective they're engaging and inviting the public on-farm.
26 October 2022
Strawberry ice cream from Tinaberries (left), entrance to Macadamias Australia (centre), and farm history inside the Visitor Experience at Macadamias Australia (right)
It was time to begin the move back to southern NSW and what better way to explore some ideas then to take the scenic route via the East Coast of Australia and look at how some agritourism ventures are engaging and sharing the story of agriculture.
As I drove around Bundaberg two things stood out to me:
This reinforced that a connection is key. Once we have a connection our curiosity and interested is sparked. And once a connection is formed further connections form and spin from that. So how do we, as a wider agricultural industry, continue to form connections?
One way is to have engaging and authentic interactions through farm gate experiences. Two great farm gate experiences in the Bundaberg region are Tinaberries and Macadamias Australia.
Tinaberries is a strawberry farm 15min from Bundaberg offering fresh strawberries, a pick your own experience (in season), and delicious strawberry ice cream all year round! The family farm is beautifully set up with plenty of space to relax and enjoy your ice cream in the garden.
Macadamias Australia provides an on-site café and Visitor Experience just a stone's throw from their processing plant, and 10min from Bundaberg. Nestled in the family's original orchard, the Visitor Experience provides an interactive display on the history and story of macadamia farming in the Bundaberg region from orchard to plate. It is well set out, beautifully presented, and details the processes in growing this delicious Australian nut (which you can taste and enjoy at the complimentary tasting or café)!
Another way we can form a connection is through signs. Maybe slightly random, but as I was driving around Bundaberg, and heading further south, I was in awe at the diversity of produce grown. Some of it I recognised; sugarcane, macadamias, avocados, sweet potatoes, and strawberries. But there were other crops and trees that I did not recognise. And I wanted to know (cause I was curious). And I wondered if others were curious too. Did others drive past and wonder what was growing, and what this was that would ultimately end up on our plates? Could we simply add signs to forge a greater connection?
8 October 2022
When I moved Central Queensland over eighteen months ago I was impressed by the number of festivals and shows in the local region... Beef Australia every three years, Rockhampton River Festival, Capricorn Food & Wine Festival, Rockhampton Agricultural Show, The Village Festival, Capricon, Oktobest in both Emu Park and Rockhampton, Tropical Pinefest, Yeppoon Show, SoCal Music & Arts Festival, Capricorn Film Festival, Emu Park Festival of the Wind, and many more!
On Saturday 8 October two festivals were on with the Tropical Pinefest in Yeppoon and the Rockhampton River Festival. And I went to both!
Yeppoon main street (James Street) is packed ahead of the Pinefest Grande Parade which
included the Queensland CWA knitted caravan (right)
Tropical Pinefest is an initiative of the Yeppoon Lions Club to celebrate the local community across events over two weeks culminating in a Saturday Family Day including beachfront markets, 'Running of the Bulls', Grande Street Parade with pineapple themed floats, and fireworks. Other events throughout the week include a progressive dinner, cocktail party, exhibitions, movie nights, and local business promotions. Local pineapple growers, Tropical Pineapples under the Pure Gold Pineapples brand, sponsor the event and during the street parade give away free pineapples!
Audiences interacting with the 'Song to the Earth' at the Rockhampton River Festival
The Rockhampton River Festival is a three-day festival held along the city's riverside precinct to celebrate art, music, culture, food and entertainment. The festival is hosted by the Rockhampton Regional Council after being established in 2014 to celebrate the area's beautiful surrounds and built heritage. There's plenty to do with multiple stages for music, workshops across the weekend, roving entertainment, street art, food trucks, plenty of free activities for the kids, and fireworks to cap off each night.
So, what can agriculture learn from the arts?
14 & 15 September 2022
As a new scholar, the Nuffield Regional Tours, provide a short taster to being on tour with Nuffield. They showcase the rich agricultural diversity of a region, highlight leading local businesses, provide the opportunity to visit local scholars on-farm, and there's always a dairy farm visit!
The travel time between stops allows one to sit next to a new person each time, to reflect on visits, discuss new ideas and learn about research topics, backgrounds and passions. And as was evident across the two-day regional tours in Tamworth, one could apply the framework shared by Dan Richards from the Irish CSC.
Genetics creates the potential
Management realises the potential
Disease destroys the potential
The key was seeing where management had realised the potential; what processes and systems they had put in place, and what were they doing to make them stand out from the rest, to build the business, and to define success.
Inspecting cattle for sale at the historic Goonoo Goonoo Station
Wednesday kicked off with a visit to the historic sale ring at Goonoo Goonoo Station ahead of the 3R Angus & Ultra Black Bull and Females Sale. Goonoo Goonoo Station, owned by the Haggarty family, south of Tamworth is also home to luxury accommodation and a stunning restaurant on this working cattle station. For the first time in 37 years the historic selling ring at the station was back in use with the 3R Sale on 14 September. Before the buyers arrived, we had the opportunity to learn about 3R's vision to "produce cattle with genetics with superior function in a real-world production environment, producing a beef product that consumers enjoy", and inspect the sale animals.
For those interested, the 2022 Sale results were a 100% clearance for both the bulls and Pregnancy Tested in Calf (PTIC) females. The bulls averaged $14,588 with a top price of $30,000, and the females averaged $3,642 with a top of $4,400.
Our next stop was to Killara Feedlot owned and managed by Elders. Killara is west of Quirindi providing great access to not only livestock for finishing but also grain and feed supplements. The feedlot is licenced for 20,000 head with a range of cattle to suit both domestic and export markets on both grain feeding programs from 70 to 500 days depending on markets, as well as grass feeding programs.
Visiting the property of 1998 Nuffield Scholar, Dave Brownhill, was a highlight. Merrilong Pastoral Company is run by the Brownhill brothers across 8,000ha and includes irrigated and dryland farming with wheat, sorghum, mungbeans, chickpeas, fababeans, cotton, and Angus cattle. Their corporatised approached to family farming has seen many efficiencies gained, strengths built on, additional investment and increased diversity. Interesting to note that due to their crop diversity there's only four weeks of the year they're not sowing!
Upgraded ginning machinery operating in the Carroll Cotton Gin
The Carroll Cotton Gin has been servicing the Liverpool Plains for over 20 years after being established in 1995 by the Davies family. It is one of the few family-owned cotton gins in Australia with Scott Davies, together with his wife and Mum, still running the gin today. Their mission is simple; "to work closely with growers to deliver a customised ginning service through world's best practice and market expertise". And it's that world's best practice that we saw in touring the gin after recent upgrades which have increased the ginning capacity. Not only are they using the best in American ginning equipment, the Cherokee, but they are experimenting with the old ginning equipment to process hemp and hemp/cotton blends in industry trials.
Thursday saw two completely different visits, and very different to Wednesday's! First on the agenda was a tour of Thomas Foods Lamb Abattoir. Thomas Foods is a vertically integrated global food business growing, processing and supplying quality meat and seafood. We were given a full tour beginning at the automatic robots that sort, pack and move the cartons based on barcodes, through the processing floor, the holding pens, the rendering plant and biogas facility. With 900 staff across two shifts, Thomas Foods is a major employer in the wider Tamworth region.
Before we all headed to Tamworth Airport to take the afternoon flights across the country, we called into Peel Valley Milk's processing factory. The Wilson's began dairying more than a 100 years ago, and today they bottle 23,000 litres of their own Jersey cows' milk under their own label producing whole milk, reduced fat, three flavours, and unhomogenised milk. And the milk just so happens to be coming from a top performing herd with an Australian Grand Champion!
As someone who has organised countless school excursions and tours, there's no denying the time and effort that it takes to organise a tour, particularly one that visits multiple farms and agriculture businesses, and has a wide range of participants. Huge thanks to 2013 Nuffield Scholar Guy Hebblewhite, the Nuffield NSW State Committee, and Nuffield Australia team for their work in pulling this together!
13 September 2022
The 2022 Nuffield Conference was held in Tamworth, and as was commented on Twitter
not many conferences beat the enthusiasm of the Nuffield Scholars
The one-day conference, following the awards night, and preceded by two days of regional tours, provides an opportunity for newly announced scholars to join with alumni, supporters, and sponsors for a day of learning and networking. Given the diversity of agriculture in the room and the domestic and international travel undertaken, the conversations around the room are rich, welcoming and connecting. And as a newly announced scholar there's always someone wanting to connect you with someone, or just wanting to say hello and welcome to the lifelong club. A club that is full of enduring friendships, ongoing travel, trials and experiments on farm, always new questions, and the taking on of leadership in both community and industry.
The Nuffield Conference is a mix of sponsor presentations, scholar presentations reporting on their research findings, travel presentations on the CSC and GFP, and a 'Where are they now?' segment where alumni share how the scholarship has changed them and their business five or more years down the track.
I want to share my reflection on two stand-out presentations that showcase the diversity of the conference, and impact of the Nuffield Scholarship.
Photo courtesy of Nuffield Australia
Daniel Richards is a 2016 Scholar from the Northern Territory and CEO of the family business, Humpty Doo Barramundi. Dan shared an inspiring 'Where are they now?' presentation showcasing how the business has grown to be the largest producer of saltwater Barramundi in Australia. From little things, big things grow...
Dan shared their business mission which has been carefully crafted as their guide; to responsibly produce beautiful Australian Barramundi while demonstrating our genuine care for and commitment to our people, fish, environment and partners. Dan's father, Bob, started the business 27 years ago producing 6kg of fish per week delivered to restaurants. Now the business is 15,000 times (yes, 15,000) bigger, has over 150 people employed, has over five million fish, and is still 100% family owned. They deliver a branded product into Costco, Woolworths, Hello Fresh and Qantas.
Dan's passion was infectious, as too was his commitment to his land, people and producing an incredible Australian product.
A key takeaway from Dan's presentation was a framework that he learnt from his CSC in Ireland that can be applied to all agricultural businesses, whether you produce mangoes in Bowen, fine merinos in Tassie, or Barramundi in Humpty Doo;
Genetics creates the potential
Management realises the potential
(with farming systems, research, marketing, regulations)
Disease destroys the potential
Photo courtesy of Nuffield Australia
Jarrod Amery is a 2020 Scholar from Forbes, NSW and shared his finds from his Nuffield research in an invigorating presentation. Jarrod's topic was 'What it takes to build and maintain a successful farm business'.
Jarrod runs a mixed farming operation with winter cereals and sheep, and began chasing his farming dreams at age eleven when he was told he wouldn't inherit the farm. He passionately shared how he has worked on establishing the business, building it up, and ensuring that he runs his own race - and doesn't get distracted by the Jones' new red tractor next door.
During Jarrod's Nuffield travels, of which much was undertaken during Covid and a 14,500km roadtrip around Australia with his family visiting farms, he identified some traits of successful people;
Successful people take action.
Successful people often view a problem as an opportunity.
Successful people get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Successful people think beyond other people's limits.
Successful people are less fearful than most, and accept failure as success in motion.
Successful people are curious and have amazing listening skills.
Successful people ask lots of questions.
Successful people find balance.
Successful people enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
2022 Nuffield Conference Program & Presentation Videos: www.nuffield.com.au/conference-2022
12 September 2022
In Tamworth, ahead of the Nuffield Australian conference, Aimee Snowden was announced as 2023 Nuffield Scholar. Aimee uses LEGO® to engage people’s interest in agriculture and spark an interest in our diverse industry, through Little BRICK Pastoral. She plans to study agriculture education models that drive immersive experiences and engage curious minds. Aimee's scholarship is generously supported by AgriFutures Australia.
Nuffield Scholar Bio: www.nuffield.com.au/aimee-snowden-2023
Pictured with Nuffield Australia Chair Rob Bradley (left), Nuffield Queensland State Committee Chair Nigel Corish (right)
Photo courtesy of Nuffield Australia
Being named a 2023 Nuffield Scholar is an honour. I am incredibly excited to be embarking on a journey that will build on the research of previous Australian and international scholars looking at agriculture education and engagement models around the world. And of course, LEGO!
Attending the Awards Dinner in Tamworth and our briefing day, and the subsequent National Conference and Regional Tours, gave me the opportunity to meet the other eighteen 2023 Nuffield Scholars. Like Australian agriculture, they are incredibly diverse, and are incredibly inspiring! I can't wait to share the Nuffield journey with them, to learn from them, and to take on many adventures over the next two years.
2023 Nuffield Scholars
Photo courtesy of Nuffield Australia
For those who are just being introduced to the Nuffield Scholarship through my journey, the scholarship is a unique program offering those in agriculture a life-changing scholarship to travel and study an agricultural topic of their choice. The scholarship is the first step in joining the most influential agricultural network in Australia, and connecting with an approachable global network to learn from and build ideas with. It should be noted that whilst the research topic is central to your Nuffield travels, the scholarship is an investment in you and your capacity to lead Australian agriculture in your chosen area. Your topic may change during your travels as you find new information.
The scholarship runs for two years from announcement cumulating in the presentation of one's research findings in a report and presentation at a National Conference. Travel is a minimum of 14 weeks including both domestic and international travel which includes a week-long Contemporary Scholars Conference (CSC) to meet all the international scholars, and an intensive four-week Global Focus Program (GFP) to learn about global agriculture, agri-politics and economics. I will head to Canada in February ahead of the 2023 CSC to join scholars from around the world, and then in May will embark on my GFP to Singapore, India, Qatar, Germany and the United States, with 11 other scholars from across the world.
I am looking forward to sharing this journey with you!
And for those interested, applications for the 2024 Nuffield Scholarships open Monday 6 March. The application process begins with a written application, then a state-based selection interview, followed by national section interview. The application process is really worthwhile and a great opportunity to explore a topic you'd like to further research, to connect with previous scholars, and to build confidence in interviewing in front of a panel of at least 8!
Please reach out if you're interested in applying, want someone to read over your application, or want to chat through ideas!
Aimee Snowden is currently undertaking a 2023 Nuffield Australia Scholarship to explore immersive education and engagement models around the world.
My Nuffield Scholarship would not be possible without the generous support of Nuffield Australia and AgriFutures Australia who have invested me.
|Little Brick Pastoral||