Inter-generational farmers don’t make much noise about what they’ve been doing or how they’ve gone about it. They just get on with it. And that seems to be the way Jasmine Preston is living her life as the 5th Generation in her farming family. The first Prestons – Jasmine’s Great, Great Grandparents – originally settled at Hydes Creek. Later moving over to the Promised Land, the family ran cattle, a dairy farm and a banana plantation. Along the way they also “had a go at growing most things”.
Their work ethic was solid and their generosity of time, knowledge & spirit extended its reach well into the community without hesitation. Jasmine’s grandparents Athol & Sylvia, now in their ’80’s, are still working, stripping and selling Banana Leaf – not for the faint hearted! (Now that will have to be another story – ed.)
It’s clear these qualities also run deep in Jasmine’s veins. We chatted to her as she launches into the long-term challenge of wrangling a property of her own into shape – back where it all started at Hydes Creek – whilst working in the rural produce industry and raising her boys, and taking things ‘one day at a time’…
What’s your relationship to the Bellingen Shire?
I’m the 5th generation in the Preston family to be here in the Bellingen Shire. I was born in Bellingen Hospital and have always lived here.
Where would you say you get your strong work-ethic from?
My whole family has a great work ethic! And though I didn’t always have it, I do now – and it came from them.
How long have you worked in the area of rural/farming produce & equipment and what attracted you to the job?
I’ve worked in the rural produce industry since June 2015. I’ve always liked farming, animals and gardening since I was a kid. So it’s a perfect fit for me.
What do you like best about your work?
The best part of my work is all of it! I really enjoy helping people and don’t see that as ‘work’ at all. If I can’t help I try my best to get an answer for them.
Many people say you give great customer service and are very knowledgeable. Is this all on-the-job knowledge or did you know a lot from your farming upbringing?
Nearly everything I know I’ve learnt from listening and asking questions. When I started working I didn’t know much at all! I just asked questions, whether it was a customer, a fellow employee or someone else.
You’re raising 2 boys and working full time, and you’ve recently bought a farm. Can you tell us what inspired you to take on such a commitment? What are the plans on the land?
Kids, work, life – it can all get hard at times… like really hard. But I have a great family who have always been there to support me and I wouldn’t have been able to do half the things I do without them.
I grew up on a farm and I loved it. I wanted my boys to have the same things as I did and so that’s what we are currently trying to do. It’s really that simple. That being said, there’s no doubt that having a property is hard work, but I hope one day to be able to produce most things on our farm for our family.
We must ask… did your grand-uncle Ivan Preston teach you a thing or two about chopping wood?
Wood chop has been part of our family for as long as I can remember! I recall helping when I was a kid, in the lead-up to the Show – getting the blocks trimmed and ready. As for actually chopping wood – well I can swing an axe if I have to!
Who is your inspiration?
My mum, dad and grandparents are my everything. They are the ones who inspire me to do and be the person I am today and no words can ever express the gratitude I have for them.
What do you say to newcomers to farming or anyone working a patch of land, who are looking for advice on what to focus their efforts on?
Soil is so important for us to grow our food and feed our animals. So it all starts with your soil, then you can build on that.
What was the best advice you ever got?
The best advice I think I’ve ever had is to take one day at a time. Slow and steady wins the race.
What do you do to wind down?
I love gardening, although you wouldn’t be able to tell at the moment! But every chance I get I’m out potting, digging or rearranging my plants.
Your favourite local grown fruit or veg and why?
Watermelon! It’s a big thing – literally and figuratively. I have very fond memories as a kid of helping dad harvest this huge fruit, carting them out to a trailer and selling them to passers-by. And of course eating them until we couldn’t eat any more.