Celebrate Rural Women! “Cath Jenkins”

A big shift

Cath Jenkins is an independent consultant, on the board of Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and owns a family farm in South Purrumbete that has undergone some major shifts in the last few years.

“In the last two years we’ve changed the operation from dairy into a livestock grazing enterprise. And in the last 12 months we’ve started a free-range eggs business.”

Cath describes the changes as trying to “do the best thing by the environment and the natural assets.”

“By thinking of the longer term, we have tried to have a bit of a holistic view and think about how the different parts of the natural system fit together.”

She said the decision to diversify and consider more regenerative practices came from “thinking about how we might want to operate so it’s more sustainable on the on the natural assets in the long run, but also on us as well.”

The mental and physical health of her family is something that she really values, “you’ve got to have time to enjoy what you’re doing, not just go, go, go all the time.”

Cath and her husband Adam have four children who all help out around the farm and she says they “couldn’t do it without their help”

However, the shift to more sustainable practices take time. “We’ve got great plans and are chipping away at things as we go, but to really be regenerative, it’s got to be sustainable economically, as well as for the natural resources and the people doing it.”

“So, when I say regenerative, I mean we are trying to improve the place by increasing soil carbon and soil microbial activity.”

Something else that Cath values highly is the family’s “sense of adventure to keep trying new things and continually improving.”

These values are something she makes sure to “talk about regularly, every 6 months or so. Especially when making decisions we go back to ‘Why are we here?’, ‘What’s important to us?’”

And for our future farmers Cath says “just do it!”

“There’s lots of different ways to try it before you buy it, so to speak, and you don’t have to buy it. The sector has industry roles in companies, private sector, public sector, there’s something for everyone.”