The International Day of Rural Women celebrates the vital role played by rural women in climate action. This year’s theme is Rural women and girls building resilience.

AUSVEG acknowledges the role that women play in our agricultural and horticultural industries, and we thank them for their dedication, commitment, passion and ongoing contribution.

You don’t have to look far to find all the incredible women working in horticulture, with many demonstrating outstanding ability and success in their chosen field.

Each year, AUSVEG hands out the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture award at Hort Connections. This award recognises a leading female member of the Australian horticulture industry who has demonstrated outstanding ability and success in her chosen field. This year’s award winner was Victorian vegetable grower Catherine Velisha, who you can read more about here.

Bridging the gap

A team of inspiring female leaders at a South Australian organic farm is also setting the pace for gender equality. The employees at Eldridge Fresh Organics at Murray Bridge are using International Day of Rural Women to encourage others to take a leap of faith and consider forging a career in the sector.

Fourth generation farmer and Business Support Manager, Chelsea Eldridge enjoyed a hands-on role in the successful local business while she was growing up and started working full time at Eldridge Fresh Organics after leaving school in 2019.

“I’ve grown up eating organic produce and it’s something I that I am passionate about. When the opportunity came up to work in the family business, I jumped at it because I love being part of a growing industry and helping people understand why organic produce is the best,” Chelsea says.

“I think International Day of Rural Women is an opportunity to acknowledge how women bring new and different perspectives to the organic industry and broader sector. My experience has shown that the organic farmers and sellers have been mostly men, and it would be great to see women of all ages and cultural backgrounds also become part of the industry and fulfill their own career dreams.”

Production manager Sandtina Martin has been with the business for four years after spending more than a decade as a chef, before a career change took her to the coal face of organic food production.

“I love working in the sector and I find it incredibly satisfying to know where our food comes from. It’s also the perfect career to challenge myself each day and break down the stereotypes of what roles women should do – and while a few eyebrows might have been raised when I first started driving trucks and forklifts it’s now accepted as the norm,” Sandtina says.

Employee Jess McCulloch has quickly risen through the ranks after starting her first job at Eldridge in 2018 as a picker and packer. The Production Supervisor now manages staff that originally trained her.

“When it comes to having a career, I believe women should do what they love – and I can honesty say that I love my job and the diversity it offers. It’s a resilient industry where you keep learning new things and I enjoy being part of a family business that embraces diversity and equality in the workplace at every opportunity,” Jess says.

The members of the Eldridge Fresh Organics team join thousands of other women working at the front line of agriculture, food security and nutrition, land, and managing natural resource management across Australia.