Invisible Farmer – Shining a light on women on the land

Stories of women on the land are being sought in a landmark study. The Invisible Farmer project was launched in March and is seeking your help in collecting and sharing the untold stories of farm women in rural Victoria.

The first call-out for submissions to farm women hosted by ABC Rural between March and May this year attracted nearly 200 tributes from across Australia. Most of these were from Victoria. You can read these on the ABC Open website – go to the ‘Projects’ page and select ‘Past’.

The stories collected to date were contributed by men and women, and cover a diversity of enterprises, locations, periods and lived experiences of women’s achievements and challenges of life on the land. Here are a few examples:

 Irene Myrtle Lowe (Dookie) was always proud that she had been the first woman in the southern hemisphere to complete a degree in agricultural science in 1918. When she first arrived at Dookie College in 1915 students lined the drive waving flags and singing ‘Long Live the Lady Student!’

 Chloe Warden-Flood (Warrnambool) a young ruminant nutritionist loves the dynamic nature of agriculture: “I think agriculture is a dynamic profession, its constantly evolving and changing, so that’s the beauty of it. Agriculture, well it’s here to stay, because it’s fundamentally important to human existence so it’s a great industry to be involved in.”

 Marilyn Lozada-Fernandez (Yarrawalla,) is one of many migrant workers, whose hard work and passion is a significant contributor to Australian agriculture. She has been acknowledged for her leadership and knowledge in Australian pig husbandry and animal welfare.

“I think agriculture is a dynamic profession, its constantly evolving and changing, so that’s the beauty of it.”

 Annette Hasan (Hoddles Creek) has found her strength, resilience and a commitment to innovative environmentally sensitive systems, have helped her during the challenge of her husband’s cancer.

 Winsome Anderson (Clyde) wrote a memorial piece to her dairy farm, which was sold to become a new suburb – her story is about the challenge in balancing the ever-widening urban growth with the need to protect rich agricultural land to help feed this growing population.

 Even though Dorothy Houlden (Goornong) spent over 35 years working on a farm, she mostly referred to herself as a farmer’s wife. It was not until the 1970s, when she started her own Angora stud, that Dorothy started calling herself a farmer.

 Leila Sweeny McDougall (Tatyoon)  is a young farmer and fashion designer. She is on a mission to promote agriculture and support farmer health through her own charity Live Rural and the National Centre for Farmer Health, and is the first farmer to hold the title of ‘Mrs Australia’.

 The diary of Margaret McCann (Stradbroke), is a document to her persistence and competence as a farmer in the 1890s and 1910s – an inspiration for farm women today.

Irene Myrtle Lowe (Dookie) was always proud that she had been the first woman in the southern hemisphere to complete a degree in agricultural science in 1918. When she first arrived at Dookie College in 1915 students lined the drive waving flags and singing ‘Long Live the Lady Student!’

As the collection of stories continues to grow over the three years of the project, it will create a valuable public collection which will inform education and community programs, research, and public discussions about contemporary issues facing rural Australia. Stories of women on the land are central to extending our understanding of the value of agriculture in our daily lives. They will not just reframe our rural histories; they will also offer an important tool for the future. These stories will help create role models for girls and young women and inspire them to be part of the future of Australian agriculture. We need your help in creating this patchwork of stories across Victoria.

Did you miss the opportunity to post a tribute via ABC Open? Don’t worry! You can contribute a story now via the Invisible Farmer website at invisiblefarmer.net.au – just go to the Home page and select ‘Share a Story’. All you need is about 500 words!

Irene Lowe – to read her story go to https://open.abc.net.au/explore/1967

How to get your stories flowing

 Create your own story circle of friends and family and pass around the ‘speaking stick’ – and then help each other post stories

 Start a trail of tributes – post a story about a woman you know and then ask that woman to do the same – see how long your trail of tributes can be!

 Honour all the ‘mothers’ in your life – write about your mother, grandmother, great grandmother or an important mother-figure in your life. And, as Dorothy Houlden says, “a simple thank you…That’s all one needs.”

 Encourage the men in your life to honour the fabulous women in their lives – sisters, mothers, wives, partners, colleagues,

daughters, aunts, friends and other awesome women.

 Involve your children or students in this history-making process – ask them to write a tribute for sister, mother, aunt, grandmother or an important female in their lives.

 Help your industry organisation to become a Supporting Organisation for Invisible Farmer and profile your industry through the stories of women.

 Ask your local council or shire to promote your region through local stories of women on the land.

 Invite your local historical society and museum to shine a light on the many untold stories in their collections relating to women on the land

 Let us know what works for you and we’ll promote it via our website and social media!

How to get involved

Invisible Farmer is the largest ever study of Australian women on the land. This project aims to combine personal stories and academic research to map the diverse, innovative and vital role of women in Australian agriculture. The Invisible Farmer project is a nation-wide partnership between rural communities, academics, government and cultural organisations. It is an initiative of Museums Victoria and funded by an Australian Research Council grant.

 Be part of Invisible Farmer – visit our website: https://invisiblefarmer.net.au

Join the conversation follow Invisible Farmer on social media: @invisfarmer

Be part of Invisible Farmer – visit our website: https://invisiblefarmer.net.au

Join the conversation follow Invisible Farmer on social media: @invisfarmer

Watch the Invisible Farmer video at http://bit.ly/2s83lzL

 

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