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Ideas and Inspiration - rural women's network meeting.

Ideas and inspiration were centre stage at the inaugural meeting of the Women in Productive Pastures network held in Bathurst last week.

Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) hosted the event which attracted a diverse gathering of women involved in agriculture, including tree changers in their 50s and 60s launching into the rural sector for the first time, partners in established family farming operations, young women looking to make stronger connections with the rural sector, and women who were sole traders growing prime lambs, cattle and niche agricultural enterprises.

"The room was brimming with smart, articulate, inquisitive women reaching out for ideas and networks," said LLS Senior Land Services Pastures Officer, Clare Edwards.

Clare organised the event to bring together like minded women interested in investigating productive agricultural landscapes, enterprises and potential industries.

"We had more than 20 women of all ages cram into a room at the Bathurst City Community Club, and their enthusiasm was infectious," said Clare.

The 2014 Rural Woman of the Year, Pip Job, was guest speaker on the day.  Pip's thought provoking presentation on the social challenges facing the rural sector gave the participants plenty to discuss at their first meeting.

Pip recounted the difficulties she had encountered in the past as part of Little River Landcare in engaging women in field days and events.  However she said times were changing with rural women gaining the confidence and the courage to get more involved in business decisions and taking on a more public role in the agricultural sector.

Gemma Green from Mandurama is part of a family farming operation, while also running her own separate small business, and she came along to the event at the suggestion of her bank manager. 

"For me it was a great networking opportunity.  It's very useful to share ideas and to be inspired by successful women like Pip Job," said Gemma.

Prime lamb producer, Sally Playfair, has been operating as a sole trader at Springside for more than 20 years, and came along to the Network meeting looking for practical knowledge about agriculture and pastures.

"Because I've always worked full time, I never had the opportunity to take part in farming groups or field days," said Sally, who has in the past run the farm on her own as well as working in a day job in town.

However Sally has now taken the leap into full time agriculture, and is taking advantage of a more flexible time schedule to get involved in more rural events and activities.

"I feel guilty that I'm having such a great time," said Sally about her new lifestyle as a full time farmer.

At the end of the first meeting of the new Women in Productive Pastures and Landscapes Network group, participants voted to continue for 12 months.

Network facilitator, Clare Edwards, says Central Tablelands LLS is looking forward to supporting the new network in strengthening their skills, knowledge and engagement in productive and sustainable agriculture.

"The aim is to hold another meeting prior to Christmas, and we're planning activities out in the paddock that our new members have expressed an interest in," said Clare.

For more information about the Women in Productive Pastures and Landscapes network phone the Bathurst LLS office on:  02 6333 2300, or contact LLS Senior Land Services Pastures Officer Clare Edwards on mobile: 0428 435 615 or email: clare.edwards@lls.nsw.gov.au

Media contact: Kylie Krause on 0439 608370