Meander Valley Gazette

Your Independent Community Newspaper

Rural women rally round

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

APRIL 2018 | Lorraine Clarke

FOR THOUSANDS of years, women the world over have played a major role in agriculture. Even during eras when it was considered unseemly for ladies to work, women have pulled their weight on farms, often going far beyond a supportive role beside their husbands.

20 years ago, Tasmanian Women in Agriculture was formed, an organisation whose aims include providing support, fellowship, education and social interaction among dedicated, committed women involved in Tasmanian rural communities and industries.

One of TWIA’s goals is to update members’ practical skills through programs relevant to their needs. Recently they covered the NLIS system’s regulations on tagging and moving livestock between properties, and ran fitness classes.

Bendigo Bank annually sponsors the First Aid Course and refresher credits, providing women with a life-sustaining skill on farms where it is all-too often needed.

Field trips to enterprises such as Tas Alkaloids, Max Baker’s potato plant, and Brandsema’s tomato farm, are valuable opportunities to gain and share knowledge. Several members have been beneficiaries of the Marcus Oldham scholarship.

Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month, addressed by guest speakers on topics of interest.

When Deloraine hosted the biennial State Gathering, a chef was featured, whose talents are the crowning glory of so many agricultural end products.

“Meander Valley Women in Agriculture is one of the State’s strongest groups, because of the caring attitude we have for each other,” said Anne Cresswell. “If someone has a problem, we rally around and offer support.”

TWIA is open to ladies currently or formerly involved in agriculture, however diverse their interests. Some work on farm as well as helping with crops or livestock. Glenda Wootton is growing pasture in a shed on her small farm at Kimberley. Judy Kilby addressed a meeting where she shared her experience of the horsemanship of Outer Mongolia.

Success of the organisation has been celebrated with publication of a 90-page book containing 28 Meander Valley women’s stories of their farming experiences, illustrated by many photographs. Jane Bennett, one of the founding members of TWIA, penned the foreword. Older members recall the simple pleasures of a rural childhood despite the primitive conditions and challenges of a bygone era, transitioning through to today’s world-class practices.

Photo | Mike Moores