Mandarin Madelines with Mandarin Curd

My home town is one of Queensland’s main citrus growing regions. In fact, the town is the “Orange Capital of Queensland! In fact there is a ‘Big Orange’ tourist attraction on the way into Gayndah where you can buy fruit during picking season and other local wares.

My parents are beef producers, not citrus growers, but I love supporting the local citrus farmers whenever I go home to visit my parents by purchasing boxes of oranges and mandarins to bring back & share with my friends and family. My parents also bring down lots of citrus whenever they visit too & last time they brought a box of mandarins with them!

While I love supporting the citrus farmers, I am a bit of a fussy mandarin eater. In fact, some might consider it painful how I eat a mandarin! Miss Six loves them however & Miss Three will drink the juice.

I decided that to get some use out of them that I would adapt a recipe from Rachel Khoo’s first book “The Little Paris Kitchen”.

Floundering on the sea on non-connectivity

I spend a lot of my time on the internet. Much of my work revolves around pages such as Twitter or Facebook where I try to share stories for farmers & consumers, along with catching up with friends. Simple things like researching places to visit for a tour group that I organised for work. Paying bills and keeping bookwork up to date. Keeping documents in the one location so that I can access or share them whenever I need to.

Most people in suburban areas would find doing these actions an easy, hassle-free task. Watching  the latest episode of your favourite sitcom on Netflix, no worries right! Live stream iTunes radio all day while you work, awesome, bring it on!

However, for many in rural & regional Australia it is a real challenge. One that holds them back from reaching their full potential in both business & in their personal lives. It is not an issue just in Australia either. Many of my rural counterparts in the US face the same battles and challenges in their daily lives.

It is not only the lack of reliable internet available, it is also the amount (or lack of) of data available to rural customers that is the issue. 25GB seems like a lot of data until you need to download programs required to run your business, upload 50 documents to the cloud so that they can be accessed by others in your team, regularly post updates to social media or pay your bills. I can’t even imagine doing all this and trying to educate your children via School of the Air or distance education.

Our whole lives are based around the internet these days, and for good reason. It has allowed us opportunities to build stronger businesses, share our stories & keep in contact with our loved ones.

My productive office, connected to internet through my phone as our home mobile broadband gets shaped after 10 or so days (25gb).

However, the internet is critical for the future of agriculture as it is where the next round of farm productivity gains are to be made.

Over the past 10, 25, 50 & even 100 years we have seen huge gains in yields in both crop & livestock industries thanks to better breeding, greater understanding of soils, better agronomy. Whilst gains will still be made in these areas, the digital era will allow fine tuning of all of these areas. Decisions will be made on very specific, location based information & with very little effort on behalf of the farmer.

Whilst our urban counterparts are enjoying NBN, cable or ADSL2, in rural areas we have a limited selection of mobile broadband or satellite connections, all of which are way oversubscribed leading to slow, unreliable connections that chew through data due to the constant reloading of pages or downloads.

How can we get past these troubles? How do we get decision makers to get real about making real efforts to increase services? It is something that has been weighing on my mind of late, here are some of my suggestions:

1. Encourage Start-ups in the internet access space

Surely someone out there has a great idea to provide internet access to rural communities. For a country to have all their internet hopes pinned on just one organisation to roll-out services with little to no innovation is insane. Go crazy & see what else might be out there to get the ball rolling!

2. Look outside the square
According to this news article, the USDA provides funding to internet service providers to ensure small farming communities can access high-speed internet. The USDA gets it. They understand that to keep their rural industries competitive they need to make investments in such technology. Get with the program Australia!
What else can be done to provide internet to small communities? There is talk of drones being used to provide interim internet to small rural communities in the US. Whilst not the best for aerial applicators – I shudder to think of the consequences during summer – it is a great start. why not utilise local grain handling facilities? Think of how great these could be – they provide internet to the surrounding farms & could be wifi hotspots too if they are a closed facility.

3. Get. It. Done.
Come on already. Yes, we all understand that it does take time to roll out these services. But it is extremely frustrating for a rural person to see NBN being rolled out in large towns & cities whilst they are being forgotten. I do hear the NBN are putting on extra staff. Show us how much quicker the services will be rolled out in rural areas!

I’m sure with further thought I could come up with more ideas & links. But I’d love to hear what you all think could get this job done!

Till next time, Meg

2015 Goal – Agvocate!

I took part in a Twitter conversation today. It changed my outlook on what my goals are for 2015!

The American AgChat Foundation hold a weekly Twitter conversation using #agchat. Today’s conversation was on 2015 Agvocacy Goals/Resolutions. I usually don’t get to join in on the Australian version called #AgChatOZ, as it is on at the same time as dinner here at the zoo! For me, the #AgChat convo is on at a more reasonable 11am to 1pm fo me here in Australia. Well, reasonable if it is not school holidays!

I also took part in the last 20 minutes of the #BlogChat Twitter conversation earlier this week. Again, this got me thinking about restarting my blog this year.

I had been thinking a lot in recent days about my role in agriculture now that we are no longer farmers. My role as Executive Officer for the Grains Research Foundation is part of my plan, but how else can I share my passion for Agriculture?

Taking part in these two conversations has helped me reevaluate where I sit in the world of Agriculture. I might no longer be able to tell our farming story, but I can share the story of other farmers.

To keep me motivated I would love it if Australian Farmers could share their blog with me. If you don’t have a blog, then you can still share your story by writing a small article sharing your farming story.

Finally, if you are another Ag Blogger who struggles with consistency, then how about we team up to keep each other on track?

Here is to an Agvocacy type of year !

2015 Goal? #Agvocacy! Sunflower
2015 Goal? #Agvocacy!

My Three Words for 2014

I have been doing a lot of reading on many topics over the last two or three weeks for a work project that I started in December last year.  One of the many interesting articles I came across was on Chris Brogan’s personal website entitled “My Three Words for 2014″.  I have struggled in the past to maintain any goals I set myself for the year like running, not eating chocolate (ha ha, would never make a crazy goal like that!).  So this form of ‘goal’ setting has been an epiphany for me.  Instead of setting a goal, you select three words that reflect where you would like to focus your whole life in the coming year.

Meg’s Guiding Words for 2014

Meg Kummerow's three words to focus 2014
Meg Kummerow’s three words to focus 2014

My three words for 2014 are:

  • Broaden
  • Challenge
  • Inspire

These cover both my personal life and work life & help keep me focused when I get distracted throughout the week.  For instance, in my personal life, challenge might mean that I want to challenge myself to keep up a fitness regime, but in my work like it might mean that I want to challenge others to think outside their current way of thinking or doing activities on their farm.

Going Forward

Each year you create a new set of Three Words to focus yourself on for the next 12 months.  To be completely honest, I’m not looking forward to having to think of three new words for 2015 as this years words are so meaningful to me at this point, however as the year progresses I’m sure that my focus will change somewhat & three new words will be a welcome change.

What do you think of the three words idea and if you choose to use them I’d love to know what yours are!

Meggsiek

New Blog, New Focus, (nearly a) New Year.

2013. This year has really been a year of ups & downs for us and it certainly has been & gone very quickly!  Earlier this year Clinton’s parents sold the farm after nearly 80 years of it being in their family.  It was certainly a trying time, but we really believe that everything happens for a reason & we are very happy & fortunate to be where we are now.

The past 3 weeks for me has been really exciting for me with a new role & new focus for the future.  I am now an Independent Director of the Grains Research Foundation Ltd and will be doing some exciting work with them & the younger generation of grain farmers in Queensland.  This is on top of the work I do with the Australian Sunflower Association.  It feels great to be doing some work that I am passionate about again!

I’ll have some more updates on both our family & work life soon, however for now I had better go & get my house in some kind of order after a few busy days!

Assignment Photos–Part 3

Ok, I’m trying to use these old assignment photos to keep myself motivated for my current assignments!  I am finding it a little bit hard to find the time however to get out & about with the camera at the moment due to the new little addition to our family Emma Louise!  Big sister Georgie loves her lots & we do too!  I’ll get some up-to-date shots of her in the next few days to put up here, but for now here are some of the photos from my third assignment with UR Creative.  Wow, looking back at these shots reminds me of just how long ago I actually took them!  Georgie looks VERY young, it would have to be coming up nearly two years ago actually – I really need to get myself organised & finish this course!

WBL C1A3

Assignment Photos– Part 2

Well, it was quite some time ago now, but I have completed the first course of my photographic studies with UR Creative.  Much water has passed under the bridge since then, with lots of happenings on the family & farm fronts as well as for my business – Future Focused Business Solutions.

I’ll have some photos of of what’s been happening around here in coming posts, but for now here are some of the images from my second assignment.

WBL C1A2

Photos from the farm

We have luckily made it to the 24th January with no floods thus far!  Although the weather is changing by the minute so who knows what might happen this week.

I am finally getting back into my photography after many months off.  And I am LOVING IT! I was still doing some shooting here & there, but in the past week I have been really good & have been getting out & about with my camera here on the farm.  Most of my photos are of Georgie – but she doesn’t mind at the moment & some shots have actually been at her insistence!  She will often go & grab my camera, give it to me & say ‘Let’s go outside Mummy!’.

Below are some images that I have taken over the past 12 months, post flood!