Regional Leadership Program participant profile – Kirsten Larsen

With time at work spent building a network of primary producers and food system champions, and time away from work spent on a new farm enterprise, Kirsten Larsen has been living and breathing farming and food systems for many years. But support from the Victorian Rural Women’s Network has helped take this work to the next level.

Tell us about your background and what you do. What does your day to day look like?

My journey has taken me from computer engineering and climate and food policy, through strategic foresight and into social enterprise. I am one of the founders and Directors of the Open Food Network. Our focus is on designing and propagating systems that we help transition agriculture and food supply chains to be solutions to climate and ecological crises, while strengthening food justice and local economic resilience. My day to day includes:

  1. ‘Hands on’ interaction with our product development and customer support teams, as they deliver our key products and services to regional food producers and distributors – including the Open Food Network platform; Open Road logistics service for local produce and Open Food Connect to open up market access for producers;
  2. Strategy and management of the organisation – including overseeing our growth from 6 staff in May 2020 to 27 now and oversight of finances etc
  3. I am currently the Chair of the Board of the Open Food Foundation
  4. I have two small children and a farm in Warrenbayne (Pukawidgee) which is the beginning of a whole new collaborative farming and community building endeavour


What prompted you to apply for a Victorian Rural Women’s Network program? Why is scholarship support important?

I applied for the Victorian Rural Women’s Network scholarship to undertake the AICD Company Directors training. We would likely not have been able to prioritise funding for me to do the training without the scholarship. The program was extremely valuable – I learned a lot about governance and strategy, as well as financial oversight and risk – that I probably should have known 10 years ago!

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