Josie Jackson

Farmer, businesswoman, passionate revegetator

Josie runs a native tree revegetation business in the South East, manages the stock side of the family farm and organises and hosts horse schools.

She and her husband have been named national Tree Farmers of the Year and won a Landcare award for their revegetation work.

Josie has served on the SA branch of Greening Australia and a range of advisory groups and organisations focusing on the environment and sustainable farming.

I studied farm management at Roseworthy Agricultural College and gained a diploma when I was about 20. Years later I completed a TAFE Forestry Technology Certificate.

After graduating from Roseworthy, I worked as a jillaroo on a cattle station south of Alice Springs, then travelled and worked on farms in England for a year. I married soon after and, in 1983, we came to Willalooka in the South East to farm sheep and cattle.

It was good stock country but most of the native vegetation had been cleared and it was devoid of shelter for lambing ewes in winter. I'd lie awake at night worrying about them, so I started planting native trees, initially under the Trees for Life scheme.

I found hand-planting seedlings too slow, so we started experimenting with direct seeding native seeds and my husband developed a multi-purpose machine I could tow behind a quad bike. I also trialled planting hardwood timber seedlings for forestry on our erosion-prone sand hills. My techniques drew some strange comments from traditional foresters, but they worked.

I've been planting trees ever since. Perfecting our direct seeding methods changed the whole scale of the operation – and it snowballed. People looked over the fence, word spread, and it grew to be a significant off-farm business. All the seed I sow is indigenous to each area and I collect most of it myself, or with the help of casual labour.

I think agriculture is the best career for a woman who wants to bring up children in a healthy environment. My children were always with me – planting trees, drafting sheep, feeding calves…

My smartest move was taking the direct seeding revegetation business off-farm. It helped us financially when farming was tough and has given lasting benefit and enjoyment to countless farming families throughout the region.

I've learned that if you want to get a message across, lead by example. Don't preach. And remember that good luck is spelled W-O-R-K.

Quote: "With our clean and green image, I think South Australian agriculture is on the cusp of something great, especially with respect to good, long-term prospects for exports."


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