Today is International Day of Rural Women and we’re celebrating it by shining the light on Tinamba farmer and agricultural entrepreneur Nicole Saunders.
Nicole and her husband Brendan moved from New Zealand five years ago to find the grass was greener, and the water was in abundance in the Macalister Irrigation District when they bought a 700-cow dairy and leased another 500-cow dairy farm.
Nicole believes the great soils, reliable rainfall and water security make the Macalister Irrigation District one of the best places in Australia to farm.
As well as supplying whole milk, the couple have recently embarked on a new café and strawberry picking venture to help them diversify their business and respond to the needs of local families.
Called The Berry Dairy, Nicole said their new business will give people a place to bring the family and enjoy delicious local produce and learn about farming firsthand.
“I saw a gap in the market for berry picking and a fun, safe and relaxing place for mums to meet and enjoy a nice drink, bite to eat or ice-cream with their friends and family,” she said.
The Berry Dairy is due to open in the coming weeks and has a kid’s playground, petting zoo, café, ice-creamery and plans to offer educational tours for schools in the future.
Nicole, who initially didn’t see herself continuing the family tradition of working on a dairy farm, said she was proud to be part of the agricultural sector.
"I’m not just milking cows. I consider myself a businesswoman, because the role involves negotiating deals, managing accounts, and leading a team of people,” she said.
“When you look at what you're achieving on a day-to-day basis, it's awesome.”
Nicole’s advice for other women thinking of working in the agriculture is to identify your strengths and apply them to the parts of the business where they will have the biggest impact.
“Managing business administration, our team, and business strategy are where my strengths lie. Other areas like irrigation and pasture management, fixing machinery or plant breakdowns I leave to others,” she said.
Nicole wants to make an impact in the farming sector and show other young people farming can be a rewarding, viable and profitable career path.
“I want to make sure my kids are inspired to farm and leave a legacy the next generation can be proud of.”
Nicole is a remarkable rural businesswoman who, alongside her husband is actively contributing to the success and culture of our agriculture landscape. Her journey represents the spirit, resilience and passion of our rural women here in Australia who are playing vital roles in shaping our agricultural future.
Rural Women’s Day is an international day to celebrate all women living in remote, rural areas and to recognise their contributions to rural development and agriculture.