Growing up in a rural area of Tasmania was great for me.
I had family and friends who had a variety of farms and got to see plenty of the farming life.
On occasion I got to help milk cows, cart in hay around Christmas time, and even pick Brussels sprouts.
The sprout picking experience, especially, helped to convince me that it wasn’t the future for me.
For a while I did some relief milking of cows, and thought maybe the dairy farmer’s life was an option.
But then I seriously thought about what it takes to run a good dairy operation and reality kicked in.
What these experiences did do is give me a huge respect for anyone who works on the land, sea and around it.
The term farmer covers so many different ways of working with our natural resources to produce so many different things.
Some are cut out for that life, and in Tasmania we have more than our fair share of the type of people who not only do farming well, but take it to the next level.
We have some fantastic examples of innovators and leaders in so many of our agricultural fields.
It was Lactos Cheese founder the late Milan Vyhnalek who was one of those to establish Tasmania’s reputation for making a variety of fine cheeses from its top quality milk.
He took it a step further when he set up the Lacrum Farm at Mella, just out of Smithton.
Well ahead of its time, the farm gave ‘townies’ from all over the world a chance to see a real dairy farm in action. They were able to watch the milking process daily, and also learn about the whole process of dairy farming from paddock to plate.
On a slightly similar theme is the Ashgrove operation from the Bennett family at Elizabeth Town.
They have taken a small operation built off the back of a working farm and gone from strength to strength. These days they are even producing drinking milk under the Ashgrove brand, as well as some fantastic cheeses.
The Ashgrove Cheese & Milk Processing factory surrounded by paddocks
Following a similar line in recent years is another agricultural innovator in Guy Robertson at Mt Gnomon Farm.
Taking what started as a hobby operation, he has grown to include a butchery, sales outlet, dining room and is hosting music events at the property in the Dial Ranges at the back of Penguin. The Mt Gnomon story also spreads far and wide through stalls at farmer’s markets and events.
It’s not just restricted to the efforts on the land either, we can farm the sea as well.
Peter and Una Rockliff have built a seafood empire from the banks of the Mersey.
They are recognised across Australia for the Petuna name, and have gone well beyond the family fishing operation, and expanded into the farming of fish, and the retail sector.
Another who often goes unnoticed is Tasmanian Seafoods founder Allen Hansen, who took what was a few decades ago considered a less than desirable shellfish and realised the value of the abalone to Asian tastebuds.
It isn’t just limited to those who farm, but the Coast has been the place where companies like Serve-Ag have grown and brought significant advances to the sector, working hand-in-hand with farmers in the region.
We have all the advantages and opportunities going forward to do even more of this.
Don’t miss a chance to tell a farmer they are doing a great job.