Farmer fir­ing up next gen­er­a­tion’s en­thu­si­asm for the land

Townsville Bulletin - - LIFESTYLE - NA­DINE O’NEILL

BELINDA Wil­liams of Bowen’s Stack­leroth Farms be­lieves pro­duc­tion hor­ti­cul­ture must cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of young peo­ple to pros­per.

To that end, she’s work­ing with the Bowen PCYC to de­liver Greener Fu­tures, a pro­gram tai­lored for high school stu­dents to gain prac­ti­cal hands- on ex­pe­ri­ence through hor­ti­cul­ture projects.

She pro­vides the land, re­sources and ex­per­tise. She also in­tro­duces the stu­dents to oth­ers in the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try.

She says that opens stu­dents’ eyes to the broader spec­trum of what the in­dus­try en­tails and its prospects.

Ms Wil­liams has also taken on a high school stu­dent as a trainee who will com­plete a Cer­tifi­cate in Hor­ti­cul­ture II over the next 12 to 18 months.

Bowen State High School stu­dent Stevi- Leigh Vico is com­plet­ing her train­ing through Ru­ral Train­ing Queens­land, while study­ing at school, and work­ing along­side Ms Wil­liams.

Stevi- Leigh has a fire in her belly for the in­dus­try and Ms Wil­liams plans on nur­tur­ing that fire to launch Stevi- Leigh into a ca­reer in agri­cul­ture.

With Greener Fu­tures now in its sec­ond year, Ms Wil­liams is see­ing pos­i­tive re­sults.

“If we are to con­trib­ute in a mean­ing­ful way to the pro­duc­tiv­ity in­creases re­quired to feed a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, we need to make the skills, knowl­edge, oc­cu­pa­tions, and peo­ple who make up the food sup­ply chain, a na­tional pri­or­ity,” Ms Wil­liams said.

“We need to re­think how we at­tract, ed­u­cate and re­tain agri­cul­tural staff to avoid the pre­dicted ex­o­dus of valu­able hu­man re­sources.”

Belinda Wil­liams with trainee Stevi- Leigh Vico.

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