Dawson Valley Free Range

Dawson Valley Free Range

Monday, September 21, 2015

Farm Interships and Farm Holidays

Well, we have come to a point in our business that we have been concerned about for a while. We no longer have an endless supply of Backpacker helpers coming to work on our farm.

We have been fortunate over the last few years to meet some really lovely young people who have come into our lives for short periods and have won a piece of our heart. If an overseas tourist is in Australia on a working holiday visa  and they spend 3 months working in regional and remote Australia, they are eligible to apply for a second year working holiday visa. We have had many people come to us for this reason. We have offered them accommodation and food in return for their labour and the signing off on their visa form. We have gained so much more than simply labour! We have gain some (hopefully) life long relationships, we have had the joy of having young people sharing our home and our lifestyle, we have had the pleasure of seeing these young people go from "townies" to country kids in a few short months. We hope that we have taught them a little about how important good food is to the health of their bodies and minds and that they will go on to influence others.

Some of our helpers have come from a life in the city at university or work, where they have had little or no exposure to animals, dirt and dust and physically hard work! They have learnt to drive quads, tractors and even cars. They have learnt to care for sick or injured animals. They have learnt to put up with the dust and heat of summer and the cold, windy days of winter. Even though most of them come from places where there is snow, they still find it cold on a winters morning getting up to feed the pigs. They have mentally and physically challenged themselves. They have worked without complaint alongside us and sometimes they have been quite long days.

Most of them have come to us as they had heard stories of people being mistreated when fruit picking, or they just didn't really want to do that sort of work and thought it would be better to work for nothing and be looked after than work very hard and not be treated well. We even complained on their behalf to the media hoping that things would change in the fruit/vegie picking industry and they would be treated better. The only result was that the government decided that voluntary labour should no longer be accepted as eligible for the second year visa application. This is going to affect a lot of farmers. Most of the farmers that use this form of labour, do it so that they can keep their cost of production down. Producing sustainable or organic food is a lot more labour intensive than conventional food and it therefore costs more to produce. It is very difficult for us to compete with the Colesworth model but unfortunately we do

We have worked on an Internship / Farm Holiday program to enable us to encourage people to come to our farm to help us out. We will exchange their labour for a great learning experience and some really good food and accommodation. If you could share this post and the website, I would greatly appreciate it.

As I was finishing this post, Edmund walked in with the mail. There was a parcel from two of our recent helpers - Loum and Marie (these are gifts from their home regions in France). This is what they sent us and so I suppose that shows how much people enjoy their time with us. These two girls were very special, (as are all our helpers) and it just makes me sad to think that we may not have the pleasure of sharing our life with others.

Please have a look at our website and share it with anyone that you think might be interested in taking up one of our options for a cultural exchange! We've called it Farm Internship Australia. This experience is aimed at people wanting to complete an internship with us, have a tree change learning experience, or a working farm holiday. I do use the word holiday loosely, because it won't be a holiday, people will come here to work.


  1. Sorry Lucy,

    We do the same here with our Cattle herd and backpackers and are looking to expand into a similar pork production setup. I have some bad news however that backpackers are going to be even harder to find now. Volunteer work is no longer (as of the beginning of this month) able to qualify for 2nd WHV signoff. Payslips are now required complying with minimum wage and all usual entitlements and workplace conditions.



  2. It's just such a short sighted reaction! I do t see why they couldn't continue to allow voluntary labour. We don't force people to stay. I think that would be called kidnapping!