Award-winning farmer Kalyn Fletcher sees a bright future for agriculture in Australia’s north through the use of the family farm. 

Story + Photos Therese Hall

Kalyn Fletcher’s face lights up when she describes her attachment to Kununurra, in Western Australia’s east Kimberley. “This is a lifestyle that’s pretty hard to beat,” she says. Standing on the wide verandah of the house in which she grew up, the Ord Valley farmer looks over the fallow paddocks where she’ll be sowing seed for crops after the wet season. It’s the build-up and, as evening falls, the temperature eases off its sticky 44-degree Celsius high. But the heat doesn’t dampen Kalyn’s love for the north. “I don’t see discomfort, I see opportunity,” she says.

Kalyn was Western Australia’s 2016 winner of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award for her advocacy of tropical agriculture. She sees a bright future for the north within the country’s agricultural mix, particularly the role of the family farm. With her $10,000 bursary prize, Kalyn spent three weeks exploring agricultural districts in the Cerrado region of Brazil, travelling 3000 kilometres in the country’s north-east. “I selected the region for its latitude and altitude, as I wanted to study a region comparable to what we have here,” she says. Kalyn plans to share the knowledge she gained with northern growers and southern consumers. “My goal is to stimulate conversation about northern Australia,” she says. “I want to get people talking about it, then hopefully things will move into action.” 

This story excerpt is from Issue #112

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2017