2017 was an amazing year for Goombungee farmer Liz Couchman. The first generation farmer has many talents to her name along with some outstanding achievements. Last year Liz was awarded both the Oakey and Darling Downs rural ambassador awards. An experience she values and learnt a lot from.

Liz describes the Oakey rural ambassador competition as a fantastic national competition for young people interested in agriculture. It sure was an eventful one to say the least. Liz learnt so much from how to rob a bee hive and harvest her own honey, to delivering piglets, foals and calves and also having to hand raise a few as well. She learnt how to teach a calf to drink from a bucket and how to get a steer to stand in a show ring. What makes a cake a winner and to grow her first crop. Changed a distributor in her little old tractor, butchered her own meat and just when you thought she was done Liz also made her own bacon. She says it wouldn’t have been possible without the great people from around her community and beyond who taught her all she now knows. Liz also confessed it was a lot of trial and error and a lot of YouTube viewing. "I have attended many local shows and events around the region and met many inspirational people. Everyone loved what they did, their animals, their produce and their equipment. It highlighted to me the integral role of the show movement throughout the communities across the region in a way I had not seen it before."

Competing at the Toowoomba show was definitely a highlight, being able to see some of the best the Darling Downs had to offer. Liz was genuinely shocked to be named Darling Downs Rural Ambassador for 2017. In her head all she could think was “I’m just a girl who moved from Brisbane to the country when we bought a pet pig, with a crazy dream to become a farmer”. Proving with hard work and determination woman can achieve anything!

Liz had the opportunity to attend The Ekka, Royal Queensland Show, as one of the state finalists. This was a whirl wind experience where she met other like minded and passionate individuals from across the state. They got to experience a tour of the port of Brisbane and super butcher not to mention a behind the scenes look through The Ekka. “It was inspiring to hear the other entrants speak about their respective industries and regions, if these are the kind of people who will influence the future of the agriculture industry, there are exciting times ahead”

In 2013 together with her husband Liz purchased a 35 hectare farm in Goombungee, in order to live their dream of living on the land. They packed up lives in suburban Brisbane and moved to the country, both as ‘First Generation Farmers’. They learned everything as they went from whomever would teach them.

Their mission since 2013 has been to convert lifestyle property into a profitable ethical farm. Liz knows even though their block may be small in comparison to others she believes the future of food production will include both large and small innovative farms.

Liz says “we have a ‘pet to plate’ philosophy, trying to give our livestock a happy and as natural life as possible.” With a passion for pigs and since buying their first pig “Milly” 6 years ago when they still lived in suburban Brisbane they have built up a small menagerie including saddleback pigs, cows, sheep, goats, and poultry. All their livestock live free range on pasture, allowed to wallow, forage and dig where they please. Liz is passionate about free-range practices and is also continuing to research and trial techniques to find the harmonious balance of productivity and animal welfare.

Liz says “our dream is to live the country lifestyle while raising happy fulfilled livestock, on a pasture rotation system and be lucky enough to make enough money for us both to call “farming” our full time profession”. Liz is also drone pilot as well as an ag drone application researcher and test pilot. So implementing new technologies such as drones for fence checks, herding sheep etc by designing her own prototypes and testing them on farm is extremely rewarding for her. Liz says “this allows us to rapidly gather data for instant decision making and also take out some of the riskier jobs on farm. We also want to be able to use digital platforms to connect and learn from others, we believe this won't distance us from the skills and traditions from the past but allow us to build upon them by integrating new technologies such as drones and allow the sharing of this knowledge with others.”

Liz we can tell that you are a proud ‘Agwoman’ and believe this quote from you sums it up very well! “We love our little patch of heaven in our small tight-knit rural community, we can’t imagine ever returning to the hustle and bustle of the city now we have started our farming adventure”

Congratulations on all your achievements and all the best going forward we are sure we will be hearing a lot more from you.