Introducing Lisa Claessen – Teacher of Agriculture and Hospitality, QLD.
I was born in Melbourne, to a country born father and a city raised mother. I don’t know where it all began, but all I can tell you is I have had a lifelong desire to be involved in farming and agriculture.
As a child I spent many a holiday helping out on a sheep station in country Victoria and wishing I lived on a farm!
I also spent much time in my youth travelling throughout our amazing country, discovering out of the way places and meeting the most incredible characters of the countryside and bush along the way. Over the years I have involved myself in all sorts of agricultural activities; there are so many I have wanted to experience and appreciate.
Teaching about Agriculture and Food have allowed me to combine two of my greatest passions and hopefully engage students with what I believe are two of the most fundamental elements that sustain lives and therefore our communities as a whole.
For me, teaching has allowed me to interface with so many different types of people, from farming and non – farming backgrounds. We all wear clothes and eat, and so teaching about food, fibre and where it all begins seems such a natural progression.
Discovering the medium of social media through concepts such as Twitter and Facebook have made my passion for farming and foods extend beyond a student audience, to engaging with farmers and consumers.
I hold an incredible admiration for those in Agriculture and my challenge is to build common threads between those that produce and those that consume the finished product.
After meeting so many amazing farming folk throughout my career, I felt compelled to honour them by telling their stories in a blog. They are usually people just quietly getting on with the job of farming; to me they are people to truly admire and be thankful for. The Australian Year of the Farmer has been a most fitting time to begin.
It seems that farming in this country is often presented with challenges, and the tenacity of the folk that operate under these, have my full admiration.
As a country we face the challenge of being able to keep up with the latest in research and development in order to produce as much as we can from diminishing farm land that is threatened by salinity, water shortages and the effects of climate change. The opportunities for export will hopefully increase, as the demand in many developing countries for animal proteins exists, a market that we can successfully produce for.
The “divide” between rural and urban areas also brings challenges of its own, and consumers sometimes have unrealistic expectations of Primary Industries based upon the desire for competitive produce and little knowledge of the challenges that farmers often face. Add to that issues such as the duopoly that exists with our supermarkets, where prices do not necessarily correspond with the true cost to produce an item such as milk or vegetables. We are losing farmers at a time when we can least afford to.
4. Message to Canberra
I want to see a greater level of connection between the farmer and the consumer. Somehow we seem to have got the whole concept back to front.
Without farming we simply cannot function. We rely on these folk for some of our most basic needs, yet often farmers are accused of being whingers. If you gave me a billboard, I’d probably write something I heard of recently –
“Never complain about a farmer with your mouth full; we just can’t eat without them”.
Twitter – @LClaessen
Blog – Telling Tales – Stories of Food and Farming http://lisaclaessen.wordpress.com/
Lisa’s story is the tenth (10th) in my quest to feature 52 farming stories in 52 weeks as a part of our celebrations of Australian Year of the Farmer.