Kim Storey and Cassie Gates are on a mission to change the perception of those within the agriculture industry, by producing a book that combines real photos and stories of Australian farmers and their families. Cassie spoke to Vegetables Australia about their project, What Does a Farmer Look Like?

Fast facts

Name: Kim Storey and Cassie Gates
Location: Eugowra, NSW
Works: What Does A Farmer Look Like?
Role: Photographer and graphic designer

So…. What does a farmer look like?

That is a question that photographer Kim Storey pondered one day in a conversation on social networking site, Twitter, in mid-2016.

Kim had noticed how a majority of farmers are represented when it comes to a simple Google search. She typed in “What does a farmer look like?” and pictures of old, bearded men with overalls and pitchforks appeared on the screen. Her mission then was to produce a book that would encourage farmers to realise that they are different to the stereotype.

The photographer then joined forces with her graphic designer friend, Cassie Gates. For the past few months, the two women from Eugowra, New South Wales, have visited a range of farmers around Australia in a bid to profile and share what they look like with the rest of the world.

The result of their work will be a coffee table book entitled What Does a Farmer Look Like? which the women aim to complete by December 2017.

"We just wanted to show that farming is a great life for a lot of people and there are happy people out there doing something that they love."

Telling tales

As the graphic designer, Cassie attends and directs the self-funded photo shoots when she can, and it will be her job to design the end product.

Cassie explained what the project’s objectives are, and at the top of the list was to hear farmers’ stories.

“We tend to only hear negative stories in the media, such as those about droughts and the problems associated with them,” she said.

“We just wanted to show that farming is a great life for a lot of people and there are happy people out there doing something that they love.

“We’re writing the stories ourselves. We interview each farmer when we visit them and keep in touch with them as well – obviously things change over time. It’s developing a bit of a community with the farmers we’ve visited already.”

Cassie expressed her amazement at the people she has met, and admires their passion for the land.

“I’ve learnt that a lot of farmers are open to diversification in their farming. I think it’s amazing to be able to do various things on your property. The farmers are keen to learn new things themselves; they want new ideas on how to be successful and produce great products.

“I’m loving meeting all these great people. They’re just passionate about what they do.”

Farmer feedback

Since Kim’s Twitter conversation in mid-2016, the concept of what a farmer looks like has grown rapidly.

“There has been a lot of interest – everyone is keen to find out about other farmers and what they’re doing. It has always been assumed that farming is for the older generations, but there is a lot of new, young blood coming through with new ideas,” Cassie said.

Interest in the project is reflected in the numbers. Kim and Cassie are featuring at least 100 farmers in the book and there are plans for a second edition. It may also lead to an international venture, but this is a long-term thought.

“We won’t go too big just yet. We just have to get the first book done,” Cassie said.

Getting involved

At the time of writing, Kim was in Western Australia taking photos at vegetable growing operations. Other vegetable growers are encouraged to contact Kim and Cassie via their Facebook page should they wish to be featured in What Does a Farmer Look Like?

“Drop us a message and let us know what your farm is and we’ll get back to you if we’re in the area. We’re travelling around all of Australia, so it’s not defined by any area,” Cassie said.

“If there are any producers out there that grow products that aren’t common or are specialised, we’d love to hear from them. We want to show that we can produce our food in Australia and that we don’t need to source it from overseas. The idea is to go Australian!”

This profile first appeared in the leading magazine for the Australian potato industry, Vegetables Australia. If you’d like to subscribe to receive a new edition of Vegetables Australia in your mailbox every two months, use our online subscription form!

Photography credit: What Does A Farmer Look Like?