With International Women’s day on the 8th of March there is no better time to showcase the hard work and dedication our female farmers put into the food we eat every day. We recently caught up with Tammy Litzow from Black Crow Organics in the Lockyer Valley in Queensland. Tammy and her family supply us with a vast array of fresh produce including Potatoes, Celery, Cabbage and Cauliflower to name but a few. Read our interview with Tammy below:
1) When did you start farming or Did you grow up on a farm?
I have been a farmer my whole life, growing up on a farm. I remember helping my grandfather out on the farm. By the age of 3 I was sitting with him driving the tractor. Dave and I are the 4th generation of farmers and we love every minute of it.
2) What brought you into farming?
I worked in retail for 10 years but also worked on a farm on my days off. I got married to Dave who was a farmer. I decided to work full time on the farm once we got married, it was an easy decision, I just love being outside in the fresh air.
3) Are there any female leaders in the industry you aspired to be like?
In the Lockyer Valley there are lots of women in farming and seeing other women in different roles in the industry allowed me to see the various avenues I could take. Many of them do office work or others like me are farmers and do all outside picking/grading/packing and selling and the office jobs.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing females in Agriculture in 2018 and how do you feel they can be overcome and improved?
There is still very much the stigma that women should be at home or in the office, I think a change in this perspective is a big challenge to be overcome as it shouldn’t cause women to be fearful of getting out there and doing the hard work if that’s what they love.
4) What would you say have been the biggest changes you’ve implemented on your own farm since you’ve been farming here? Do they correspond with what you think the biggest changes have been in the industry during that time?
The biggest changes we have made have been in purchasing new machinery to pick and pack produce. Many technological advances have been made recently that allow much more efficient preparation of produce, making it much quicker and less labour intensive.
5) Has this change been viewed as more of a business for you, a lifestyle choice or a combination of both?
It’s BOTH…… of course… Its really important to me to grow and supply a quality produce to my customers and have quality time with my daughters as well.
6) As the division between large and small farms has grown, how has your operation adjusted?
We started off as a small farm and have grown over the years due to increased demand for our products. These days you need to be big enough to support and bring up a family. To me that is the most important.
7 ) How do you see your role as a Woman in the farming community?
I am on the Lockyer Valley Grower Inc. as a committee member. I am one of 3 women in this group and having a voice not only in my business has allowed me to contribute ideas and solutions to the challenges agriculture faces in our area.
8) What crops do you grow? What’s your main crop and why that particular one?
We grow potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, pumpkin and grain corn. Our main crop is potatoes. This is something we are good at and is a crop I grew up with growing on my grandfather farm. We grow a few varieties Dutch cream, Nicola, Desiree, Kiplfer and Sebago.
9) What has been your most consistent crop in terms of making a good profit?
Every year is different. Mother nature can either make or break you crop and your potential profit. It seems to be getting harder to make a profit as in farming as in the organic industry we rely on many different farmhands to do a lot of weeding, cultivating etc therefore wages are the biggest killer.
10) Have you taken any steps to make your farm even more environmentally friendly than organic standards?
We have many dams on our farm full of fish and birds along with open green spaces for insects to breed naturally. This is a benefit long term for our bug control.
11 ) Have you seen a change in your land since you first started farming?
Yes the soil is more fertile and the farming practices we use has increased the microbes in the soil.
12) How do you feel about the local/organic food movement?
Locally organics are very small in this region as it is very much conventional. But though talking to different people in other towns/cities people really want to know how their food is grown and where it is from. This will only be of greater importance with all the media hype regarding organics.
13) What advice would you give to any young female greenhorns interested in getting into farming?
It’s a tough life. If you are passionate about living a clean green life…. JUMP IN AND GO FOR IT!!!!! I love it and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Life is what you make of it…….
Tammy, thank you so much for this interview, it has been really inspiring chatting to you and here is hoping female leaders such as yourself inspire the next generation to take up a trowel
What about you? What are the women you see everyday doing that inspires you to chase your dreams?