When Rabobank asked me to deliver a keynote to 1600 Australian and New Zealand employees on day two of their Farm2Fork/Grow2Gether Summit on Sydney Harbour, I said yes immediately. What an opportunity. But I have to admit I was quietly having a freakout. What do 1600 people even look like in a room?!
When I arrived to give my delivery, my nerves disappeared. The room was buzzing. And from having a relationship with various Rabobank staff over the years through their continued support of George the Farmer, I can genuinely put this down to the fantastic culture within the organisation. There was such a warm feeling in the room.
I was introduced to the stage by Rabobank's client council manager, Yvette Loyson. At George the Farmer, our vision is a world where all kids connect to the earth, food and farm. Yvette explained how our vision aligns perfectly with the Rabo Community Fund's themes of increasing ag literacy and decreasing the rural/urban divide.
As a cooperative, Rabobank has a rich history of community engagement and always looks to make an impact across the communities in which clients live. Many of Rabobank clients lead the Rabo Community Fund's priorities.
The Rabobank community fund and client councils are supporting us in sharing our story and raising our profile to attend events such as the Darwin Royal Show and, last year, supply almost 200 book packs to primary schools in Australia and New Zealand.
This partnership will increase the ag literacy of thousands of kids while inspiring them to consider careers in agriculture. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share the George the Farmer story and my vision and goals for the future.
I was fortunate to be joined at the Summit by my husband, Justin, my niece Ella, and her partner, Bentley. Ella is responsible for our social media marketing, liaising with our wholesale stockists, and being part of the family farm, so it was fantastic to share the experience with her.
The Summit provided a platform for several game changers within the agricultural sector to showcase their vision for the future of feeding the world with key themes surrounding efficiency, sustainability, ag tech, and innovation. The George the Farmer team was proud to attend amongst primary producers, agri leaders, entrepreneurs, Australian and New Zealand Rabobank staff, and Client Councils.
Our highlights from the two-day symposium included the following:
- Hearing Young Farmer of the Year, Brad Egan's inspirational story about how he's used data to confirm his gut feeling about changes required on farm — and as a result — saving the farm for future generations. And then drinking beer made from barley grown on his farm afterwards!
- A quote shared, "If we don't make agriculture sexy, there will be no next generation of agriculture" - CEO of PepsiCo.
- Listening to New Zealand vegetable grower Jay Clarke's story about how they've grown their family business, the challenges they're facing and how their farm is much more than just a business — they provide educational scholarships to their employees, donate surplus food to those in need and celebrate diversity within their organisation. My husband Justin and I also had a great conversation with him later in the day.
- Reconnecting with many people after a long hiatus and making many new friends from Australia and New Zealand.
After a 4-year hiatus, Rabobank's 2-day Farm2Fork (F2F) and Grow2Gether Summit returned with a bang.