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Taiss: Background Story ...

I’m a first generation descendent of Italian migrants. They left the farms of their families (cropping, orchards, and small scale goat herds) and migrated to Australia. On the one hand, they saw farming as a subsistence existence and thus sought the town life and further, guided my development into white collar work. However, on the flip side of that coin, they promoted the strong ideology of “true, honest fruit of labour” that comes from agricultural work.

Perhaps because of this upbringing, I have had a handful of true loves and passions in my life. Simply put, I am ruled by a love of food, nature and learning. This has materialised in a number of ways.

For example, as a means of expanding my perception of the world and broadening my skillsets, I recently completed two additional areas of competency outside of my primary employment that were undertaken in my own time with my own dime.

The first area was undertaking the Diploma of Agriculture (completed) and a Diploma of Agronomy (in progress). These were undertaken to deepen my knowledge and expand my understanding of the industry and to formulate my own ideas rather than blindly accept the status quo. I guess deciding to follow the agricultural path was one that was easy to make; after all, my passion for agriculture is a mix of all of those aforementioned elements.

Simultaneously, I have commenced the process of building a farming enterprise from scratch – purchasing land and having to undergo the process of quite literally creating something from a blank slab of land. This process was, and continues to be, a long journey that has provided me with insights into the industry as someone trying to “break in” – as opposed to those who seek to “break out” of generational shadows.

The second area of undertaking was the Certification in Workplace Training, Assessment and Education. I wished to better understand the process of imparting information to others and to have the ability to offer Diploma level training at TAFEs and other RTOs. I wished to utilise those skills in sessional training opportunities in the agricultural fields. Unfortunately, due to the changes to the TAFE sector that have run their course over the last 18 months, sessional training roles have dried up.
However, I have created the opportunity to improve and promote training and mentoring within my teams. Further, I have found that those skillsets have become valuable in telling stories to others in regards to promoting ideas and engaging in dialogue.

Throughout all of this, I have become an active (and moderately popular) agvocate on social media, writing key blog pieces on blog.goodrockpark.com that have been widely referred to across Facebook, Twitter and other blogs. As an example, I offer The Threats, Challenges and Weaknesses – Entering the Australian Agricultural Industry; Can the world go Vegan? A studied viewpoint regarding Vegan vs Omnivorous Farming; Is it in Australia’s interests for small farms to be replaced by larger corporate entities?

My passion also means I have been involved in a number of programmes – from the NFF Blueprint to the Victorian DPI BetterBeef; from Soils for Life to GBCMA Land Health. If it was accessible to me, I made the time to get informed and get involved.

I add to these points two decades of enterprise experience, an understanding of social media, both urban and regional viewpoints and a desire to bring agriculture back to the fore of peoples thinking in a positive light.

One further point I would like to make.

The new farmers - those who are tree changers, migrants, returning, or even simply start-ups – have very little support available from established associations. I believe that there is a very real opportunity for the industry to take hold of that niche and truly make a difference. I, for one, would like to be part of that charge.