Meet RIRDC Rural Women's Award finalist Annette Reed as we count down to the announcement of the national winner on September 24
IT’S not the size of the farm that counts – it’s what you do with it.
That’s the message from Tasmanian Rural Woman of the Year Annette Reed who’s looking at ways growing tomatoes, garlic and other niche crops can make small blocks pay and provide business opportunities for rural women.
Speaking from California where she’s part way through a 35-day tour of the US and Canada looking at niche tomato and garlic enterprises, Annette said size isn’t necessarily a barrier to profit.
“A lot of the places we’ve visited here are only two or three acres and they are thriving businesses,” she said.
“I look at that and think: ‘why can’t we do that at home?’.
While she consents population is a factor, she says her trip has hammered home the need for small farm enterprises to have a point of difference and convinced her the family’s own business is on the right track.
“We don’t do conventional tomatoes – everybody might have tomatoes but they don’t have tomatoes like ours,” Annette said.
“And when you’re dealing with such a small parcel of land, you can’t just do what everybody is doing – you can’t produce masses of anything because you haven’t got the space.
“Whatever you do it’s got to be different and you’ve got to be unique.”
The family’s 40-hectare block at Selbourne near Launceston produces more than 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and an increasing number of garlic varieties for farmers markets, restaurants and selected grocery outlets with a strong focus on flavour.
“One of the big thrills I get when selling my products is watching people eat one of my tomatoes - and they just light up and say ‘wow’.”
Annette will share what she’s learnt from her trip – and the family’s own journey - at a series of one-day workshops around Tasmania.
She’s hoping it will encourage and help other rural women on small properties to seek their own business opportunities.
“We have a lot of small properties in Tasmania - a lot of them like ours that are seemingly unviable but maybe that’s not necessarily so,” Annette said.
And her plans don’t end there.
Annette will also host a tomato and garlic festival on the farm with broader benefits for her local community.
PODCAST: Click on the image above to hear more about Annette's plans.
To read more about the finalists in the 2014 RIRDC Rural Women's Award click here