Today we meet Annicka Brosnan a girl from the country who moved to the city to study a dual degree of Science and Arts, majoring in biomedical science, Spanish and geography. only to find her heart was in agriculture
Dexter, a pure bred dorper, and me after he wandered into the farm office looking for food
Hi my name is Annicka Brosnan. Have you ever woken up knowing something wasn’t quite right, something was niggling away in your mind? Welcome to everyday of my life three years ago. I was studying at the University of Queensland, a duel degree of Science and Arts, majoring in biomedical science, Spanish and geography. I was enjoying it, but still it didn’t feel right, I was tossing around ideas: medicine, vet, marine biology? Nothing was fitting however, not until I had a geography module all about agriculture. I loved it. For the first time getting up for 8am lectures on a Monday morning was no longer a struggle. Like any 18 year old that has had an epiphany, I rang my mum. I rambled, non-‐stop for about 15 minutes before my mum finally interrupted and asked ‘What are you trying to say Annicka?’ and with absolute certainty I declared that I wanted to study agriculture.
The strange part of this anecdote is that I’m from a farming background. I have lived my whole life on the same 6 acres, a hydroponic lettuce farm. My maternal grandparents own a winery, and my paternal grandparents have a typical Western Queensland merino turned cropping, dorper and cattle property.
Riding Teddy, our 20 year old Australian Stock Horse
Whenever I was on a property it always felt like home. I loved helping out whether it was lamb marking, grape squashing or stick picking. There is a catch though, the reason why I never considered agriculture despite all this was not once did anyone encourage it as a career path. Not a single career advisor suggested it, there wasn’t a single motivational speaker from the agricultural community at my school and it just wasn’t on my radar.
So where am I now? I’m in my second year of Rural Science at the University of New England, studying externally and working on my family lettuce farm. I’m completely loving it and learning about the in and outs of the family business is fascinating. Our family business consists of three farms, a hydroponic lettuce farm, a free-‐range egg farm and a seasonal fruit and vegetable ground grown farm. Combined with locally grown tomatoes and mushrooms we supply around 250 cafes, restaurants and establishments in Toowoomba, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. We also do around 15 farmers markets. On weekends I often work on one of our stalls, I love connecting with our customers and being able to say, yes this is fresh and a good quality product, how do I know this, because one of my brothers picked it the day before.
Planting out on our farm in Toowoomba
During the week, I work as an office manager. I often talk to chefs and restaurant owners about our produce: about what is working for them, where they see the market going and products they would be interested in buying. Part of this includes handling complaints and from these I have learnt the most. Talking to dad and our agronomist, we are able to trace back and identify insects, diseases or fertilizer shortages/overuse causing damage and hence showing up in the restaurants. With this knowledge we are then able to create a management plan and address the issue.
Lulu, a merino cross and my first poddy lamb, she turns 11 this winter
So where do I want to go from here? Everywhere! I feel the opportunities in the agricultural sector are endless and I’m just at the very beginning of an exciting career. As interesting as I find horticulture my true passions lie with animal and wool production. Over the years I have amassed my personal herd of 14 poddy lambs and a mini herd of 4 horses. I hope I will find my way into this sector of agriculture sometime in the future. Alongside wherever my career take me I would love to encourage more city kids and even kids from agricultural backgrounds like me to become involved in the agricultural sector and release the potential it has for the future and its dynamic nature. There are so many local, national and international opportunities out there whether it be in research, precision agriculture, education, business or even law.
Working in agriculture no longer means returning to the family place for life, it’s more innovative and exciting than ever. In a world of choice who knows what the younger generation could excel at and who knows where I could end up? Maybe I’ll end up in education or maybe I’ll end up mustering in the NT and disappear into the red.