North West Women in AGriculture (WAGs) workshops for women on and off land

Sally Balmain has the floor at the first Loomberah workshop.

Sally Balmain has the floor at the first Loomberah workshop.

A SERIES of workshops has started in the north-west to build the skills, confidence and networks of women in agriculture.

Workshop facilitators Naomi Hobson, Sally Balmain and Kate Pearce.

Workshop facilitators Naomi Hobson, Sally Balmain and Kate Pearce.

North West Women in AGriculture (WAGs) will be held every second month in North Star, Narrabri, Loomberah and Walgett.

And it’s not just for women on the farm, according to one of the organisers.

Local Land Services officer Sally Balmain said the inaugural Loomberah event on Wednesday attracted about 20 women, including some health professionals and teachers.

“They were hoping to gain a little more knowledge of the field their kids and parents are coming from,” Miss Balmain said.

“We also had a lot of ladies whose partners are involved in agriculture and they’re interested in hearing more so they can understand the field they’re working in.

“[The diversity is] good ... we’re hoping it’ll be a real support network for people.”

Miss Balmain and colleagues Kate Pearce and Naomi Hobson are facilitating the events.

They will run for two years with internal funding and the support of the Tamworth regional and Northern Slopes landcare associations.

HOW THEY GOT STARTED

“This started because we got a bit of feedback from women interested in a women’s group,” Miss Balmain said.

“We were also finding that at broader events running, a lot of women were asking us questions afterwards; they didn’t feel comfortable asking in front of everybody.”

Miss Balmain said the response had has been “really overwhelming, fantastically positive”.

“You often come up with ideas that you think will be really good and you end up with crickets, but this has been really great,” she said.

“Definitely the feedback from this initial round of meetings – from ladies that haven’t been able to make it and ladies that have been able to attend – everyone seems really excited about it and we’re really excited about it.

“We think it’ll be a really good opportunity for women to learn a bit and make some networks with a mix of on-farm women and professional women in the groups.”

Miss Balmain said the workshop dates and times would be based on people’s needs, as would the topics.

Some of the requests were livestock fat scoring, animal health and nutrition, pastures, feed budgeting, pasture and weed identification, soil health and safe chemical use.

There was also interest in farm business topics such as software packages, effective time management, on-farm biosecurity plans and OH&S.

  • Call Sally Balmain on 5776 7009 or sally.balmain@lls.nsw.gov.au for more information or to register for the next workshop.