National honour for Southern Cross University Farming Together leader

Published 16 October 2018
Lorraine Gordon Lorraine Gordon: National 2018 Rural Community Leader of the Year

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has honoured Southern Cross University’s Director of Strategic Projects, Lorraine Gordon, with a national farming award.

Ms Gordon, director of Southern Cross’s award-winning Farming Together program, has been named national 2018 Rural Community Leader of the Year in the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural awards.

Since 2016, Ms Gordon has created possibly Australia’s largest community of primary producers keen to boost their margins by forming cooperatives and collaborations.

In the last year, a total of 57 new agricultural cooperatives have been encouraged to form and register. That figure is still growing, representing possibly the biggest annual growth in agricultural cooperatives in Australian farming history. 

Since its inception, the Farming Together program has attracted 28,500 participants in 730 farming, fishing and forestry groups across the nation.

Ms Gordon has a team of 15 program staff drawn from three states working at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus, servicing people from industries as diverse as hemp farming in WA to mountain pepper growing in Tasmania, kangaroo harvesting in outback NSW to broadacre cropping in SA.­­­

Now she is using Farming Together’s momentum to launch the University’s newest national venture, the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance. “This will deliver cutting-edge research and on-the-ground services back to the primary producers of Australia,” she said. “This is agriculture’s exciting future.”

Ms Gordon is a beef cattle farmer from Ebor in Northern NSW, a world away from her city upbringing in Western Sydney. It was when she visited a farm at Coonamble for the first time at age 14, she knew she wanted to be a farmer.

“As we drove west on the bus and I watched the western sunsets and took a big breath of fresh air I knew I wanted to be on the land,” Ms Gordon said.

At age 21, after completing agricultural college, Ms Gordon faced the tragedy of losing a number of her immediate family. She was the only one qualified to assist her mother in taking on a 3000 ha beef cattle property at Ebor, so left the big smoke for the property with no fences to live alone in a small timber mill hut without electricity and water, and tracked down the cattle which had been roaming 55,000 ha of wilderness.

These days her company Moffat Falls Pty Ltd runs guided fly fishing and holiday cottages/cabins adjacent to New England National Park, as well as the Yaraandoo Eco Lodge and Function Centre. Ms Gordon has also worked across the sector in regional development and tourism.

She said: “Farming Together was birthed out of Southern Cross University and is now making its impact globally. A passion for my industry brought me here and that passion for all things Southern Cross will keep me here. It is a place I believe in. I find it very easy to sing the University’s praises, to articulate what it means to me and what its unique position in the world is.”

Ben Roche, Southern Cross University Vice President (Engagement), said that Lorraine was extremely passionate. She has a deep commitment to rural communities and understanding of the role agriculture plays, he said, adding: “The respect that Lorraine has earned with the Farming Together project is spelled-out in this national award. It honours not only Lorraine, her team and the support offered them by Southern Cross University, but the willingness of Australian farmers to engage with the program,” he said.

Lorraine accepted the award, sponsored by Market Check, at a ceremony in the Mural Hall of Parliament House. It is the ninth consecutive year of the awards, this year officially opened by the Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or scumedia@scu.edu.au