The first was being asked to be the keynote speaker at the La Trobe Uni VCE Business Forum in Bendigo, presenting to Year 11 business students. Part of my presentation was about our two businesses (Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens, our organic orchard, and Grow Great Fruit, our online business), and about the project I ran as the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award winner for Victoria in 2015, but it was also a great opportunity to share stories of some really inspirational young entrepreneurs that we’re connected with.
You’ve no doubt heard of the lovely Gung Hoe Growers, who run a market garden on our farm (and in fact share the writing of this blog with us). It was a joy to share their story of how (and why) they got started, their successes and failures, and to pass on their sage advice to the budding entrepreneurs in the audience, especially the advice not to be afraid to start even if you don’t know everything, and that you can do a LOT more than you think you can.
But it was also fun to share the story of some other young businesspeople such as Grace, who at the tender age of 20 started her own fashion label called “Bedroom The Label”. One year later she’s graduated out of the bedroom (where she literally started the business) into a studio in Collingwood (Melbourne), has taken on an intern, and has recently scored her first overseas orders. You can follow Grace’s meteoric progress through her Instagram account here.
I also shared Allie’s story, who is in the throes of starting his own tattoo business called “Stick With It Tattoo”. As Allie’s mum, I wasn’t hugely impressed when he bought a tattoo machine on eBay and started practising on himself, but a couple of years later I’m incredibly proud to see him enrol in a business course, negotiate the regulations required to open his own tattoo studio, and open his first business! You can follow his progress on Instagram here.
It was also pretty amazing to find myself being asked to present the keynote address at a business forum, but I can trace that directly back to having won the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award for Victoria in 2015, which gave me (amongst many other things) the experience and confidence to be able to take on this kind of challenge.
Which leads me to the other great thing that happened this week, which was attending the awards ceremony for this year’s Rural Women’s Award recipient on Wednesday this week.
This year’s winner is Kirsten Abernethy (that’s her on the right in the photo), who has planned a fabulous project to help women in the fishing industry to find their voice. Of course there was a field of incredible finalists as well, including Cath Jenkins (on the left). I very much look forward to watching Kirsten’s progress, and the professional and personal development that I know from experience will come from her involvement with the awards.
Just one of the many ongoing gifts from being involved in the RIRDC Awards is being part of the alumni, so it was lots of fun to head to the alumni lunch after the awards and catch up with old friends, meet new people, and leave re-inspired to continue to grow in my business and personal life, and to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way.
Last night we took a moment to pause and say grace. Grace to me is about being grateful for what we have in our life. Whether it be the food on our plate, the people in our life, or a sudden moment of wonder when you look up at the night sky. Grace. Every day I am grateful for so much. For the fact that I get to do what I love, work outdoors with the mighty Leanganook mountain keeping watch, and experience the changes of season through my skin and senses. I’m grateful for all those around us that believe in what we do and support us to keep on going even when our belief begins to wane.
And so, last night amidst the hectic and fruitful time that early autumn is at the patch, and with the most stunning setting of late afternoon orange rays through the golden grass and apricot trees, we gathered. It was the first seasonal feast that we have held at the patch and its purpose was to say thank you to some of the people that contributed both financially and in-kind to our crowd-funding campaign. The crowd-funding campaign has been amazing in many ways, but in the most basic, it has helped us to take the next step towards viability by expanding the size of our patch.
Thanks to the late and warm summer we are still drowning in produce. We set up a long table amidst the apricot orchard and with the help of friends and family cooked up a massive feast with all our produce. For us it was an opportunity to pause and give thanks to just a few of the people who have supported us along the way so far. It was a chance to feed and nourish others from the food and living that feeds and nourishes us, and, most simply, a moment to say grace.
Sas and Mel