Dumbleton cane grower Therese Russell with her four-year-old granddaughter Alanna Oliver. Photo: Zizi Averill
Dumbleton cane grower Therese Russell with her four-year-old granddaughter Alanna Oliver. Photo: Zizi Averill

‘Backbone’ of rural life to be celebrated

AT THE height of harvest season, Mt Ossa cane grower Ann Jansen said she would not be celebrating the international day for rural women today, Tuesday October 15.

“I’ll be carting,” she said.

But the fourth generation cane grower said working in the fields was a fitting tribute to the many rural women in her life.

“We’ve all worked the farms,” Ms Jansen said.

“Mum brought up the kids and the dairy farm and fed the lot of us”

“(My grandmother) spent more time on the farm than in the house”.

She said her great-grandmother, who immigrated from Scotland, was the “business lady”of their first farm in Coningsby.

In the lead-up to the international day for rural women Mt Ossa cane grower Ann Jansen said she had grown up watching her mother and grandmother working diligently on the farm. Photo: Zizi Averill
In the lead-up to the international day for rural women Mt Ossa cane grower Ann Jansen said she had grown up watching her mother and grandmother working diligently on the farm. Photo: Zizi Averill

Like the women before her, Ms Jansen said she ran the farm as well as the home.

But with more paperwork than ever, Ms Jansen said she had also learned how to be an accountant, lawyer, government bureaucrat, businesswoman and farmer as well as a mother.

Ms Jansen acknowledged it was a tough life, and one she did not want for her daughter.

“There’s an easier life out there than farming,” she said.

“She’s seen the light and went to university.”

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But the next generation of female farmers could already be on the farm, as Dumbleton grower Therese Russell said every week her four-year-old granddaughter Alanna Oliver visited her cane farm.

Alanna said she liked riding on the tractor, and said she when she grew up she wanted to become a farmer — or a paramedic.

Ms Russell said she was proud her granddaughter wanted to follow in her footsteps, and said women represented the “backbone” of rural life.

“We’re mothers, we’re accountants, we’re solicitors, we’re farmers and volunteers and many of us also have paid work,” she said.

She said women’s role in agriculture had not always been acknowledged, “it gets taken for granted”.

In the lead-up to the international day for rural women Mt Ossa grower Gail Pratt said as a young woman, her father never expected her to take over the family property. Photo: Zizi Averill
In the lead-up to the international day for rural women Mt Ossa grower Gail Pratt said as a young woman, her father never expected her to take over the family property. Photo: Zizi Averill

Mt Ossa grower Gail Pratt said as a young woman, her father never expected her to take over the family property.

“Years ago daughters didn’t go on the farm — only the sons did”

As one of three daughters, she said “there wasn’t any thought that we would work on the farms”.

Not only did she defy the stereotype, but her daughter Nancy Pratt also followed her into farming.

“She loved everything about rural life,” Ms Pratt said.

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