International Women’s Day 2022 celebrates the theme #breakthebias and what better way to recognise this day than by catching up with a female farmer, one of many we are proud to have in Australia.
Steph Trethewey is not only a farmer, but the founder of Motherland Australia. She lives with her husband Sam and two children Elliot and Evie on their farm in Tasmania. Steph acknowledges it hasn’t been easy to come to terms with calling herself a “farmer” and we asked her why.
Describe your farm
My husband Sam and I run the Tasmanian Agricultural Company (Tas Ag Co) which produces regenerative wagyu cross beef. We currently run 1,500 head across our three farms, with a focus on rebuilding soil health, reintroducing biodiversity, and restoring natural ecosystems.
Tell us about your background
I grew up in Sydney, but my career as a television journalist took me all over the country. I was working for Channel 7 up in Central Queensland in 2013 when I met Sam. He was flown up to speak at an ag event in Rockhampton and I interviewed him for the 6 o’clock news.
“We got sick of the city rat race and wanted to create meaningful change.”
We lived in Brisbane and Melbourne together for a few years while I worked in media and comms, and Sam worked in the agribusiness and agtech sector. Eventually, we got sick of the city rat race and wanted to create meaningful change. Sam is a third generation Tassie farmer and a born entrepreneur. Given the climate change crisis, and cattle getting such a bad wrap, we wanted to create a unique beef product that has a net positive impact on the planet. So in 2019 when our son Elliot was six months old, we packed up our city life and moved here to bring Tas Ag Co to life!
You have only recently come to terms with calling yourself a farmer. What was your journey to get to this point?
There are still a lot of archaic stereotypes in our industry that should be dead and buried, especially when it comes to rural women. We attached a lot of romanticised beliefs to what it means to be a ‘farmer’. Let’s face it, they are usually male, and usually from a fourth, fifth, sixth generation farming family.
But what does a farmer today look like? Because it’s not a one size fits all cookie cutter role. I see myself as the new face of farming; a first generation female farmer and business owner who is thirsty to learn and eager to change the industry for the better.
“I see myself as the new face of farming; a first generation female farmer and business owner.”
I must admit, I have struggled with imposter syndrome and feel like I still need to get some more mud on my boots! But I’m learning.
What is an average day for you?
At the moment, I spend most of the day locked away in the office working on Motherland and Tas Ag Co. When it’s just me and the kids, I love getting out of the house and helping with farm jobs like moving or checking cattle or tagging along with Sam. Staying indoors with a three year old and a one year old drives me nuts!
What challenges have you faced?
Living where we work and working where we live can put a lot of strain on your family as the lines between your personal life and professional life are very blurred. For the past two years life has been very hectic and we’ve really struggled to find balance, like so many farming families. But Sam and I have recently put some boundaries in place to ensure that we take the time to look after ourselves, get off the farm where we can, and take a breather. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
What do you love about farming?
Everything! (Okay, except the bad seasons and the seven day a week work).
I love feeling connected to my food, I love being around nature, I love that I get to see my husband every day, and I love that my kids have this incredible backyard.
Find out more about Steph and her mission to connect rural mums on her website.