Untold Education Project

The Invisible Farmer

Introduction

Use multi-modal story-telling to create new histories, new and exciting connections across generations and open up education opportunities for your students by tapping into the untold stories of women on the land in your area.

If you want to start a project in your school community:

How to use the resources 

Teachers can use these videos however they see fit to spark interest for students, show examples of how other schools have worked in the area or as prompts for their own teaching.

  1. You can watch each video as a stimulus for different element of the research process .
  2. Make connections in your own community with farmers. One school we worked with invited women from their community to attend an afternoon tea at the school and hear about the work the children wanted to do. From here they were able to organize visits to farms and individual interviews.
  3. The interview questions provided are taken from the Invisible Farmers research project and can be adapted for use by students in the classroom. We recommend brainstorming questions with students
  4. Explore the resources provided so students can do background research on farming in Australia.

Make sure you visit the Invisible Farmers website to be inspired by stories of women working on the land.

Videos

1. Introduction

2. Developing research questions - Brainstorming

Summary

  • What is the topic?
    • Who is a farmer?
    • What does this work involve?
  • What do we already know?
  • What do we need to know more about?
  • Research required before interview
    • Visit a local historical society

3. Background research - Getting into the field

Summary

  • How do museum tell stories?
  • What kinds of farms are there locally?
  • How can we use the web to inform our questions?
  • Now revise research questions 

4. Oral history

Summary 

Professor Al Thomson on oral history

Interview questions

For Interviewers

The purpose of these interview questions is to generate content that is rich, emotive and easily disseminated across our social media channels and various programs (in short and concise quotes/ blog posts / paragraphs).

The questions have been formulated with reference to our guiding principles – sustainability, connectivity, community and capability. The interviewer should familiarise themselves with these guiding principles and conduct the interview in an open and inviting way that allows the interviewee to identify what is most relevant in regards to their own farming experience. The focus should be geared towards the personal rather than the general and aim for a meaningful engagement with the farmer and her lived experience  - e.g. why she farms, what she values, how she builds connections with her community, what challenges she faces and how she rises to these challenges.

Throughout the interview the interviewer is encouraged to ask follow-up questions that focus on the past, present and future aspects of each question, and that hone in on the guiding principles of sustainability, connectivity, community and capability.

Prior to the interview the interviewee will be given a question list that provides them with the five questions, as well as some prompting descriptors that will help them to prepare their responses. They will also be asked to fill out some biographical details (this will save the interviewer from having to ask them during the interview). Example biographical details:

Your name:
Age (optional):
Industry:
Location:
Details about your farm: (e.g. size, special features):
Contact (including social media):

Example Questions

Provide Interviewees with the list of questions one week before interview.

Introduction

Our interview will be broken into five main questions, so you will have approximately 10 minutes to respond to each of these questions (I will be there to guide you and ask follow-up questions if necessary). Please familiarise yourself with these five questions and have a think about how you might like to respond:

1. Why do you farm?

This question is asking you to consider why you are involved with food/fibre/farming, how you came into this career and what motivates you to farm. Have a think about your own personal journey, and what the major motivating factors are that have inspired you to become involved in farming. This could be anything – it might be related to your childhood, your own personal beliefs and values, family reasons or perhaps even a major life turning point (or two!). It might be connected with the story of your farm, and the role that you and other women (including relatives, employees and Indigenous women) played in shaping it. Or it might be related to your connection to the land and environment, or to your local district. We are asking you to reflect on what led you on your pathway to be doing what you do now, what inspired you and what motivates you to keep going? Please feel welcome to bring up some key memories/anecdotes or stories that might help illustrate why you farm.

2. Describe the connections with your land, local community and the wider world?

This question is asking you to reflect on the connections that you have forged throughout your career as a farmer. How important has networking been to you and how connected are you with your own industry, your local community and/or the wider community? Please have a think about your most important connections and how these communications have been fostered (e.g. personal meet-ups, grassroots activities, online forums, Facebook groups or women’s networks such as CWA or Rural Women’s Network)? Also consider the kinds of connections that you have fostered, whether they be connections between rural/urban, farmer/consumer, agriculture/science or intergenerational connections. Finally, in what ways in which you are connected with the wider world beyond the farm – for example, how are you connected with consumers in the city, food producers in other industry groups, or overseas connections?

3. What is the most important challenge (or cluster of challenges) facing you and your farm today, and what actions are you taking to tackle these challenges?

This question is asking you to consider the most important issues or concerns that you have relating to your own farming experience, your industry or farming more generally. Think about the major challenges and issues that come to mind, and tell us what most worries or concerns you. When did this issue first become important to you, and why? Perhaps an earlier life event made you aware of the issue, or perhaps it has only just become important to you? We are interested in hearing your views on how this issue might be addressed, and whether you are personally doing anything to tackle it. The sorts of things that might arise include (but are not limited to): climate change, rural decline, gender, politics, education, sustainability, salinity, food shortages, consumer awareness, farming laws and practices, farm succession planning, globalisation. We are also keen to hear how you think this issue might play out into the future, and what you think might happen with this issue in the coming decades.

4. What has been a highlight (or highlights) of your own personal role and experience in farming/agriculture?

This question is asking you to reflect on your personal journey in farming and what comes to mind as being a highlight. Have a think about your own contributions and experiences on the farm and what stands out to you as being a major achievement, learning experience, celebration or turning point. This might be related to the development of new skills, leadership experience, on-farm or off-farm developments that impacted significantly on your farm, or a personal milestone related to your farming endeavours. We are asking you to tell us about what you have celebrated or felt most proud of when reflecting on your experience. What did it tell you about the farm and yourself*? (*Needs workshopping)????

5. Object/symbolism based question – choose an object that symbolises your personal connection to farming

This question requires you to choose an object/item that symbolises your connection to farming, and your identity as a farming woman. Please choose an item that reflects your personal connection to farming. This item might be related to an important memory, a connection to the landscape, a story about your own journey, or an innate feeling that you have about farming*. (*Needs workshopping)????

Photographs

The photographs will consist of some landscape images showing you in your natural farm setting, a few head and shoulders images and an image of you holding your special object. We can discuss locations for these photos before I arrive (please have a think about the most picturesque setting that best shows off your farm/produce), and you are welcome to contact me if you have any questions about the process beyond what we have already discussed over the phone. I will explain the intended uses of the photographs in further detail when we meet, and you will be given some paperwork and consent forms to sign, which I will also be able to explain in person when we meet.

Curriculum links

Levels 5 and 6 Cross disciplinary learning outcomes

Geography

Geographical Concepts and Skills

  • Describe and explain the diverse characteristics of places in different locations from local to global scales (VCGGC085)
  • Identify and describe locations and describe and explain spatial distributions and patterns (VCGGC086)
  • Describe and explain interconnections within places and between places, and the effects of these interconnections (VCGGC087)

Data and information

  • Collect and record relevant geographical data and information from the field and secondary sources, using ethical protocols (VCGGC088)

Geographical Knowledge

  • Influence of people, including the influence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, on the environmental characteristics of Australian places(VCGGK094)
  • Impacts of bushfires or floods on environments and communities, and how people can respond (VCGGK095)
  • Environmental and human influences on the location and characteristics of places and the management of spaces within them (VCGGK096)
  • Factors that influence people’s awareness and opinion of places (VCGGK097)

Civics and Citizenship Content Descriptions

  • Investigate how people with shared beliefs and values work together to achieve their goals and plan for action (VCCCC016)

Critical and Creative Thinking

  • Examine how different kinds of questions can be used to identify and clarify information, ideas and possibilities (VCCCTQ021)
  • Identify and form links and patterns from multiple information sources to generate non-routine ideas and possibilities (VCCCTQ023)
  • Consider the importance of giving reasons and evidence and how the strength of these can be evaluated (VCCCTR025)
  • Consider when analogies might be used in expressing a point of view and how they should be expressed and evaluated (VCCCTR026)
  • Investigate how ideas and problems can be disaggregated into smaller elements or ideas, how criteria can be used to identify gaps in existing knowledge, and assess and test ideas and proposals (VCCCTM031)

Design Technologies

Food and fibre production

  • Investigate how and why food and fibre are produced in managed environments (VCDSTC035)

Economics and Business

The Business Environment

  • Identify the reasons businesses exist and investigate the different ways they produce and distribute goods and services (VCEBB006)

Work and Work Futures

  • Explore the nature and meaning of work and why individuals choose to participate in work (VCEBW007)
  • Investigate the influences on the ways people work and explore factors affecting work now and into the future (VCEBW008)

Enterprising Behaviours and Capabilities

  • Investigate the nature and explain the importance of enterprising behaviours and capabilities (VCEBN009)

English

Literacy

  • Show how ideas and points of view in texts are conveyed through the use of vocabulary, including idiomatic expressions, objective and subjective language, and that these can change according to context (VCELY317)

Interpreting, analysing, evaluating

  • Navigate and read imaginative, informative and persuasive texts by interpreting structural features, including tables of content, glossaries, chapters, headings and subheadings and applying appropriate text processing strategies, including monitoring meaning, skimming and scanning (VCELY318)
  • Use comprehension strategies to analyse information, integrating and linking ideas from a variety of print and digital sources (VCELY319)

Creating texts

  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive print and multimodal texts, choosing text structures, language features, images and sound appropriate to purpose and audience (VCELY329)

Interacting with others

  • Clarify understanding of content as it unfolds in formal and informal situations, connecting ideas to students’ own experiences, and present and justify a point of view or recount an experience using interaction skills (VCELY337)
  • Participate in informal debates and plan, rehearse and deliver presentations for defined audiences and purposes incorporating accurate and sequenced content and multimodal elements (VCELY33)

Intercultural Capability

Cultural Diversity

  • Identify barriers to and means of reaching understandings within and between culturally diverse groups (VCICCD011)
  • Examine and discuss the variety of ways in which people understand and appreciate differing cultural values and perspectives, and the things which promote or inhibit effective engagement with diverse cultural groups (VCICCD012)

Media Arts

Explore and Represent Ideas

  • Explore representations, characterisations and viewpoints of people in their community, using stories, structure, settings, and genre conventions in images, sounds and text (VCAMAE029)

Media Arts Practices

  • Develop skills with media technologies to shape space, time, colour, movement and lighting, within images, sounds or text when telling stories (VCAMAM030)

Present and Perform

  • Plan, produce and present media artworks for specific audiences and purposes using responsible media practice (VCAMAP031)

Personal and Social Capability

Relationships and diversity

  • Explore and discuss behaviours that demonstrate sensitivity to individual, social and cultural differences (VCPSCSO029)
  • Define and recognise examples of stereotypes, discrimination and prejudice and discuss how they impact on the individual (VCPSCSO030)
  • Describe the characteristics of respectful relationships and suggest ways that respectful relationships can be achieved (VCPSCSO031)

Collaboration

  • Identify the characteristics of an effective team and develop descriptions for particular roles including leadership, and describe both their own and their team’s performance when undertaking various roles (VCPSCSO032)
  • Describe the various causes of conflict and evaluate possible strategies to address conflict (VCPSCSO033)

Additional resources

Museum resources

Use the search terms ‘women on farms’, ‘invisible farmer’

Culture Victoria:

Victorian Collections:

ABC Open:

Australian context

Australia wide stats, tables and infographics:

ABS has tables to download for value of agricultural commodities by area:

ABS Tablebuilder is a great source for more detailed stats but you need to get a log in. Very worth it if you need access to census data (you can create your own tables easily)

Victorian agriculture

Agriculture Victoria 

Regional Development Victoria portal whereby you can select a region and get some statistical overview, but it is not very detailed for agriculture: 

Back to top

Connect with Museums Victoria

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest news about our exhibitions, special events, programs and offers.