Airlie Trescowthick, Deniliquin
As featured in the 2018 Country Web Annual.
What is your background?
I grew up on a mixed farming property just south of Holbrook in the southern Riverina with my parents and older brother. Holbrook is a highly productive area and I enjoyed the livestock side of the operation the most. It was an idyllic childhood full of beautiful memories—riding horses, paddock BBQs and paddy melon fights, warm Friday nights at the local pool, and making cubby houses around the garden. It brings back beautiful smells and feelings just thinking about it.
I now live with my fiancé on his mixed irrigation and livestock farm north of Deniliquin in the Riverina. I split my time between building and running Farm Table and working in and on the farming business.
What did you want to be when you left school? Has this changed?
The last few years of school and my first year of university coincided with some of the harshest times on farm for my parents (and countless others) during the millennium drought. As a result of this, and my competencies in other areas, I was never encouraged to consider a life on the land.
When I left school, I really had no clue as to what I wanted to do. I was always a generalist and enrolled myself in a double degree at the University of Melbourne.
I have always loved and appreciated my upbringing and life on the land, but I didn’t fully appreciate it until I was about 25, after my first three years working in a corporate environment. I knew I wasn’t on the right career path and I felt a draw back to the land— to be a part of the industry that I had grown up in and that I owed so much. I took steps to enter the industry by furthering my formal education in agriculture, working on our family property, and working in different roles within the ag sector.
Who has inspired and supported you and what has been their impact?
My dad is one of my biggest mentors. This was solidified after spending a year working by his side. He is a respected and hardworking farmer who runs an efficient and productive business. We have a relationship defined by mutual respect. His confidence has been a key driver in me feeling capable enough to work fulltime in farming and agribusiness.
Pip Job has also been an ongoing source of inspiration to me over the years. Her technical farming knowledge is so strong and she is a respected producer. But, beyond that, she brings clear vision and a measured approach to the bigger issues plaguing our industry. She has been a source of professional and personal support for me.
What have your experiences taught you?
Studying overseas in North America taught me the importance of family and home. I love the opportunity to get away and experience new things, but the country is where I am happiest and most fulfilled. Leaving full-time employment to develop Farm Table was an incredibly difficult decision. You sometimes feel a bit hopeless because your life is no longer validated by a twice-monthly pay check! It remains a challenge as building a service for farmers that overcomes key information challenges is a certainly a big task, but I’m incredibly passionate about the route I’ve taken and impact I will make.
What’s something about you that people don’t know?
My best friend in the whole world lives in Chicago. Greta is a city girl and I am a country girl, but there is no divide between us. Although we are poles apart with very different interests, we are each other’s greatest support.
What has been your biggest triumph?
To be honest, hopefully my biggest triumph is still ahead of me … Until I finish building Farm Table and provide a useful and time-saving service to Australia producers, I will not feel I have succeeded!
What would you say to your 18-year-old self knowing what you know now?
Be patient and be kind to yourself—it will all be OK in the end. Work hard, be open to opportunities that come your way, and don’t be scared to change course.
What does being a rural woman mean to you?
Living and working in surrounds that inspire and ground me is the most wonderful thing. I’m so proud to be a rural woman; we are strong, independent, family-oriented, values-driven, and innovative.
Where to next?
I’ve thrown everything into Farm Table with the hope that by the end of 2018 Australian producers can access an extremely useful free tool to assist them in their businesses. I hope this platform will continue to evolve and grow with Australian agriculture, connecting people and disseminating knowledge.
Farming is my ultimate passion and it’s what I want to grow with my partner to create a future for the children we’re yet to have. I’ll be focusing my energy on my partner’s farming business as well as my parents.