Happy International Women’s Day.
What image do you have in your mind when you hear ‘Australian farmer’? Many people picture an old man in an Akubra hat and flannelette shirt. But the reality for many macadamia producers in Australia is that farming is a partnership, with men and women playing equal roles in the farm business.
In 2019, the theme for International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8 is ‘Balance for Better’. As the organisers put it, this theme highlights that ‘gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.’
This is certainly the case for the five remarkable macadamia farmers we’ve highlighted below. In their own words, they tell us how gender balance makes for better business.
Jodie Cameron, Director, Barenuts
‘I am the ‘Health Nut’ at Barenuts Macadamias – I create and produce our macalicious range of macadamias and gluten free vegan treats using homegrown, local and native herbs, seeds and spices to complement the unique flavour of the macadamias that we grow at our farm on the Fraser Coast’.
‘I never imagined I would be living on a farm running my own business but Barenuts has really given me confidence and empowered me to own my brand and really grow the business into my greatest career achievement to date’.
‘Gender balance is pivotal to our business’ success and my husband and I have really had to define our roles and respect each other’s domains in order for our business and farm to run productively and efficiently.’
‘At the end of the day we both work long days, and often nights too, so it’s all about a 50/50 split for us and picking up the slack when someone might need you to so that we can take care of our little boy while still managing our greater roles in the business’.
Robyn Lee, Owner, Greenlee Farm
‘Greenlee Farm is a partnership between Paul, my husband, and I.’
‘We each have our strengths that combined make the farm work. Bouncing ideas and strategies between each other provides a good balance.’
Ann Leslie, Creator, Pure Nut
‘Pure Nut macadamia skin care is based on our family owned macadamia farm. As farmers and business owners of a skin care brand there are many levels to our business.’
‘Firstly, we ARE the farmer: we grow, nurture and harvest our key ingredient, macadamias. We have a hands on approach with Andrew, my husband, managing and working on the farm and me running the skin care business. For our business to be successful we both help each other out in the busy times… you’ll find Andrew helping pack orders and me on the mower, zipping around the farm.’
‘Working in each others ‘area’ helps keep a connection not only to our business but as a couple. We are both involved in the major financial and planning decisions for the two parts of the business so we have a clear vision of where we are headed.’
Pam Brook, Co founder, Brookfarm
‘Co Founder of Brookfarm, a family owned generational business that creates delicious healthy granolas, mueslis and snacks with macadamias in everything we do.’
‘As a family company we are constantly aware of the need to create an environment that enables our employees to succeed.’
‘Gender balance, diversity and a supportive culture is essential for us; it enables creativity, problem solving and attracting and retaining staff. We never take it for granted and work on our company culture continuously to ensure we stay on track.’
Aimee Thomas, Owner, Falkirk Farm
‘We operate the business as a team with varying roles, skills and capacities.’
‘We strongly view ourselves to be a family unit and it is within this context our gender balance flourishes.’
‘As husband / wife owners and operators (as in many agricultural farming business’) we have a unique opportunity to showcase how gender / balance can be achieved.’
‘My roles and capacity are as follows: accounts and record keeping, on-farm logistics and daily operations, farming operations such as mowing and some other machinery operations, manage and operate our on-farm processing shed as well as manage our online website and associated sales and events. I also have a large role in creating the vision for the business and forward thinking in research and development.’
‘I am also a Director on the AMS Board and recently appointed to the Macadamia SIAP. I have been warmly welcomed and regarded by the other directors and panelists and it is through these roles I do hope to play a part in evolving the discussion around gender balance not only in the boardroom but across the industry.’