View all news

Farming for food, community and environment

Student standing in paddock with two horses


Cloe Jager
19 March 2024

Walking through the grass on her rural property in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Jackie Morrison has a vision for her farm: healthy soil, flourishing rainforest and a booming honey business. But the fruits of her labour won’t be seen in her lifetime. As a regenerative agriculture student, Jackie is farming for the future.

“You want your soil to be better for the next generation and then the generation after that,” Jackie says, giving one of her pigs an affectionate scratch as it snuffles at her feet.

The swine are managed through free-range rotational grazing, with crops planted behind the pig pen that provide food for them while improving the health of the soil. It’s just one example of how Jackie is incorporating her learnings in Regenerative Agriculture into the management of her farm.

“We integrate between the chickens, pigs and cattle for the best and most sustainable way to use that soil,” Jackie says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re farming nectar for bees or pecans, pigs or cattle, all you’re really farming is the biology in your soil.”

Despite not having a farming background, Jackie is not afraid to get her hands dirty. After witnessing how her trail ride business in northern Queensland was damaging the land, she decided to learn more about sustainable farming practices through the Southern Cross University Bachelor of Science, specialising in Regenerative Agriculture.

The degree has had a transformative impact on Jackie’s future, with one university assignment paving the way for her to travel the world learning from global leaders in beekeeping. As part of an assessment, she wrote a grant application and submitted her assignment to Nuffield Farming Scholarships, a charity that aims to foster positive change in farming and food.

Through the scholarship, Jackie has travelled to the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Fiji with plans to visit Europe in 2024.

“Meeting beekeepers, and seeing everything from natural beekeeping to some of the world’s biggest commercial queen breeders and how they manage mites has been the best experience. There is nothing like standing with them in an apiary and asking about their set-up and how they operate,” Jackie said.

“What bigger purpose in life is there than feeding people and doing it in a way that’s good for your community and the environment?”

Student leaning against gate with cows in background

Jackie is integrating what she has learned into her own beekeeping business. Alongside her husband, she has recently acquired the business Ballina Honey.

“The way that we will be managing our bees going forward will be based on what I’m learning with the Nuffield Scholarship around integrated pest management,” she said.

“There isn’t a single person that does not eat food pollinated by European honeybees. They’re such an integral part of the food system.”

Jackie looks out at the saplings of the rainforest she has planted at the bottom of her McLeans Ridges property. Much like the young trees, her plans for the farm continue to flourish and grow.

“We won’t see our big goals achieved in our lifetime. It will be something that our kids and their kids enjoy most,” says Jackie. “But I want this to be a place where we can pass on good quality knowledge to other beekeepers, pig farmers, pecan farmers and farmers in general.

“I think it’s important as a farm to be a part of your community and also provide environmental services. Our rainforest will provide habitat and clean water for the Wilsons River.

“What bigger purpose in life is there than feeding people and doing it in a way that’s good for your community and the environment?”

Learn more about studying Regenerative Agriculture.

Media contact