WARRACKNABEAL environmental educator Jeanie Clark spent 2014 talking to farming families around the world.
She wanted to create an online collection of first-hand accounts from farming families about their operation, as part of the International Year of Family Farming.
Mrs Clark said she first came up with the idea in November 2013.
‘‘I saw 2014 was the International Year of Family Farming. I thought I would like to teach students about family farming in the Wimmera,’’ she said.
‘‘So I searched for resources and found there was nothing.’’
Mrs Clark then approached the World Rural Forum and asked if she could create a resource.
From there she started a website and called for stories from farmers.
‘‘It was a challenge to find people who wanted to share their story,’’ she said.
‘‘I sent out an incredible number of emails and made personal requests – with a couple hundred going unanswered.
‘‘I also went to the Wimmera Machinery Field Days and spoke to people who I knew were part of a family farm – I ended up with two stories from that, but I spoke to about 15 people.’’
Mrs Clark said many people were not aware of the criteria for family farming.
‘‘The United Nations definition of a family farm is when the family eats some of the food it grows,’’ she said.
‘‘The smallest family farm I’ve come across was a family that grows two tubs of mint on its verandah.
‘‘The biggest are broadacre farmers.’’
Mrs Clark said the best part of her research was telling people they were classified as a farmer.
‘‘Some people never regarded themselves as a farmer – one of those people was my mum,’’ she said.
‘‘Part of the United Nations definition is that family farming is important for our future – that’s the most exciting thing I get to tell the people involved and it’s great to see their reactions.’’
Mrs Clark’s collection includes farms in the Wimmera along with farms throughout Victoria and Australia, France, Canada and Samoa.
Mrs Clark will continue her project in 2015, which is the International Year of Soils.
‘‘I told the World Rural Forum that this would not be a one-year event, so I am continuing it, aiming to raise people’s appreciation of soils,’’ she said.
‘‘Without soil, there would not be food, so hopefully the project will get bigger and better in 2015.’’
Mrs Clark encouraged anyone who was part of a family farm to get in touch with her.
She said people could go to familyfarms.enviroed4all.com.au to find out more and read stories of other family farms.