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Behind the Scenes with Sarah Pearson

(25 January 2018)

Meet Sarah Pearson, our Sales and Operations Manager, one of the newest recruits here at Abundant Seeds and a rising star who epitomises everything that we stand for; a passion for Australian agriculture and supporting Australian farmers in the role that they play in the global community.

Sarah is the fifth generation of her family to live on their sheep and cattle farm in Armidale - her 87-year-old grandfather still lives at the homestead - so is a farmer's daughter born and bred and has the land in her blood.

What was it like to grow up on the land?

"There was no stress as a farm kid; the freedom was just incredible." she remembers. "You weren't allowed inside when it was daylight and you learnt an appreciation for work at an early age. I went to work with my dad to be able to spend time with him as it was a 24-hour job and all about the work when you have a farm to look after."

"My mum was a city girl and in the late 70s it was probably pretty controversial that she married a farmer's son. However, mum is where I get my tenacity and adaptability from and she's a force to be reckoned with. My dad would often turn off his two-way radio when he was busy, so one night she called the local radio show - as she knew that he would be listening to it - and told them to tell him to stop ploughing the paddock and to come in for dinner!"

"There was no time to be bored. We were always doing something and there were always chores to be done; firewood to be chopped and animals to be fed. I had a real appreciation for working animals and the role that they played; you just didn't get your dinner until the animals were fed."

The rain dictated everything, and the mood of the house would shift according to the weather. We were in the middle of a decade of drought when I was growing up, so I was very aware of the importance of rain and its impact. My family didn't hide hardship from us as children, and although I never went without, I knew very early on how hard my parents worked to provide for me and I understood the lifecycle.

Growing up on the farm taught me about hard work as well as the importance of teamwork; at times both my mother and father worked off farm as well as running our farm, so they managed the business and our family together. I learned responsibility and respect, but my childhood was safe, free and happy. I was lucky enough to have two siblings and so wherever we were we made our own fun. "

What did you want to be when you grew up?

"I actually wanted to be a chef after I finished my HSC and left school, but I didn't manage to secure an apprenticeship. It was meant to be though; hospitality is more savage than farming and it meant that I could still be involved in food but for enjoyment rather than a job.

I realised pretty quickly that my true calling was agriculture and after a few years of working for Tourism and Hospitality for TAFE New England, I knew that I was missing agriculture and the land and decided to go to university.

There were a lot of agronomy and plant-based modules in my course. As my knowledge was very animal based, I decided to take a casual summer job up in Goondiwindi, bug checking for a local agronomist; further opportunities to develop my career in agriculture presented themselves whilst I was there, and I ended up staying for six years."

What attracted you to Abundant Seeds?

Abundant Is a really unique company; when it comes to breeding vegetable seeds for Australia (and the world) by Australians, we are the only company doing that and I love that. With the global demand for quality food and for more transparency with food production - which will only increase in the future - and which is something that I consider as a consumer, it was really appealing to be involved in that moving forward.

Coming from a farming background I am passionate about Australian agriculture and supporting Australian farmers. I believe that our agricultural industry is one of the best in the world, and our farmers are at the centre of that. I love hearing and seeing the passion, enthusiasm and innovation that they have for producing high quality commodities and want to ensure that we as plant breeders support that and are able to provide them with new varieties that are competitive in the market. I could go on for hours about how I feel about agriculture in our country, but I won't get on my soap box!"

So how are you finding city life, and will you return to the land one day?

"Well it's the first city that I've ever lived in, so it's been quite the learning curve since moving to Sydney. I've had to learn - silly as it might seem - things like how to catch a bus and how to pay for car parking. It's like being a foreigner in a strange land!

The best bits are that there is always something happening and the access to great food; you can get dumplings delivered to your door! And the beauty of seeing the water, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House on my commute into the office which is still pretty surreal. And so exciting!

Will I go back to my family's land? Maybe. If the opportunity presented itself, it would be something I would have to consider, however my goal is to forge my own path. My future will always be in agriculture and contributing to the advancement of agriculture in Australia would give me huge amounts of personal satisfaction"

Contact Sarah at s.pearson@abundantproduce.com to find out about the varieties that are being developed.

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