It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to our guest blogger Andrew Dallimore
There are plenty of dreamers out there. I can’t tell you how many of our city friends say how lucky we are to be living on the land but never take the plunge. Andrew Dallimore is not one of them.
This young man is a dreamer, thinker and doer rolled into one. In the name of encouraging students to be ambitious, achieve their goals, and overcome challenges, he set up a charity and cycled from Adelaide to Melbourne (see more at http://thegentlewaydotorg.wordpress.com/about-2/). Now, in the name of his future family and community, Andrew’s applying those very same principles to his own life.
After meeting Andrew on his “pilgrimage”, I couldn’t resist recommending him to Lynne for Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champions. After all, his journey exemplified everything the YFC program stands for: the living story of how passion can create pathways towards a truly enviable life in agriculture.
This is Andrew’s story (and as you will see he has a great sense of humour) ……
“There are two types of eaters at the table: The quick, and the hungry!” – Anonymous.
My name is Andrew Dallimore, and I had a great childhood growing up on the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula in SA. It was an area that was rich with farms, almond groves, beaches, and golden bales of hay. I went Myponga Primary School, which was surrounded by low rolling hills and dairy farms.
Andrew Dallimore hungry for a career in agriculture
It was the kind of school where you had a decent chance of having to chase the cows off the footy oval, or of landing face first in a cowpat (which I did)! I spent a quite a bit of time just watching the cows over the fence, and collecting bugs with friends. Cow poo attracts some awesome bugs…
Later I was able to take up agriculture studies in high school and rear my own animals after hours. This included a steer by the name of Whiskey. Whiskey was muscular, sturdy, and spectacular. At least he was, right up until the point I led him around the arena at the Royal Adelaide Show, and he mounted the poor kid’s steer in front of me. I was about 400kg too light to hold Whiskey back! With my cheeks glowing from embarrassment, and my mouth streaming apologies, we all had a good laugh about it, along with the crowd.
Despite the Whiskey incident, I have always felt the pull of the land, and more so now that I’m studying the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Melbourne. As a vet student I am able to engage with agricultural communities in a way I never thought was possible.
Through our farm placements, I have met some incredible farming families. There were kids with thousands of dollars saved up from selling cow poo; or from rearing sick animals for busy farmers; or driving at the age of eight to the farm gate.
This summer I’ve been tracking down dairy farmers to discover their pathways to farming (i.e.: what opportunity had they been shown to become a part of the industry?). I feel drawn to dairy, both as a future vet and as a future farmer. This is because of the people (and cows of course).
Dairy farmers are tough, dedicated, and generous beyond measure. Without knowing me from a bar of soap, these people have welcomed me into their homes and helped me find my own way into the dairy industry by telling me their stories.
Thanks to them, I now have a weekend milking job in Warragul (Cows! Woohoo!) while I study my butt off to learn all I can to be a good vet. Thanks to them, and some wonderful friends and family, I have found what I truly value and want from life.
Recently, a dairy farmer named Marian Macdonald asked me what my dream is.
Giving my dreams some serious thought
Essentially I hope to own and run my own rural veterinary practice; help run a dairy farm; heavily invest in the community I live with; and most importantly, raise a strong, healthy, intelligent, and generous family on the land.
Hearing and reading about people’s pathways to dairy farming has made me realise something incredible. Dairy farming isn’t just a way of life; it is life itself. It is survival by learning, adapting, producing, recycling, cooperating, and teaching on a day-to-day basis.
It is working with spectacular animals to feed the world sustainably, and support Australia. It is about raising a strong, healthy, intelligent, and generous family with humane ethics and values. There are few causes in our country that are greater than these.
To put it more simply, my dream is agriculture, and I’d like to share the opportunities I am being shown.
The saying at the beginning of my post has been with me since childhood.
As a kid I thought that it meant I had to wield a fork to save my plate of Mum’s roast from Scott my older brother. In my late teens, I thought it meant I should go for opportunities, lest I miss out. Yet, as a man(-child), it took on a whole new meaning.
There are many reasons why people grasp opportunities when they are in reach, but there are far far faaaaaar more reasons why people don’t. One of the biggest and often the easiest to address is when people simply don’t know that an opportunity exists. There may be a table full of delicious food in front of them, but all they can see is their empty plate and they go hungry.
Australia – a cornucopia full of opportunities
In a country as rich in agriculture as ours, we are failing generations of young Australians by not showing them the opportunities that exist. We are failing to show how wonderful and adventurous a life in ag can be. We are failing to educate, explain, and enthuse kids about this industry (see 2013 YFC Andrew D’Arcy’s blog post about jobs in ag). Yet all they need are some clear pathways, support, and a little inspiration.
This is why I want to be a Young Farming Champion. As I said, there are two types of eaters at the table, but I don’t think that anyone should go hungry. There are banquets of opportunity in agriculture, but kids just don’t know about them or how amazing these are.
In modern Australia there is no excuse for starving people of opportunity, and that includes one of an incredible life in agriculture.
Some reflections from me
I must admit I shed a few tears reading this and isn’t it extra sad the dairy industry’s governing body is yet to join wool, cotton, red meat and grains in supporting the Young Farming Champions program. Surely Dairy Australia young people like Andrew are exactly the talent you should be investing in