23 June 2008
Curtin University of Technology’s Growth Program student and olive and protea grower, Maggie Edmonds, has recently been named the Western Australian Rural Woman of the Year for 2008 and is also the runner-up for the national title.
Maggie has a long history of involvement in Western Australia’s agricultural industries, most notably in the protea flower, passionfruit and olive industries.
The owner of the Gingin Heritage Estate and the Get Stuffed Olive Company said that her passion for food, farming and the land stems from a long family line of farmers, including her farmer husband.
“I have always loved the outdoors, the land and getting my hands dirty. I can blame this on my husband and also the Irish side of my family who are also farmers,” Maggie said.
“I particularly love the olive harvest and watching the fruit being transformed into sunshine coloured olive oils. I look forward to bottling the oil and selling them with great pleasure.”
Maggie, the organiser of the State’s first and subsequent two olive festivals, was selected from seven state and territory winners. She received a bursary of $10,000 to help her achieve her vision of helping rural women achieve their dreams.
“I felt that I had a responsibility after winning the award to give something back to rural women. I hope to inspire more women to achieve their dreams,” Maggie said.
“There’s a huge need to support rural women. So many women burn with real desire but don’t have the financial means to fulfil them. I know this because I had very little money in the beginning but had a big dream and a great passion.”
With this pledge, Maggie used a portion of the $10,000 bursary to perfect her business skills and undertake a business improvement program at Curtin before she embarks on a study tour of South Africa.
Maggie is confident that the Growth Program, offered by the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Curtin, will equip her with all the skills to run her business to its maximum potential and help her relay these skills to other women.
“What I have enjoyed the most about the Program is the people that you meet and the breadth of businesses that they represent. Working with such a dynamic and diverse group of people has been a fantastic learning experience,” Maggie said.
“The Program has really taught me to look at the bigger picture and has really boosted my confidence in dealing with the financial side of things. I am also learning a lot from the business coach assigned to me which is a unique feature offered by the Program.
“The teaching staff have been wonderful and it is evident that their mission is to help the students.”
In her quest to inspire more women, Maggie will be speaking in Dalwallinu, Port Hedland, Esperance and Geraldton later this year before she establishes her own agricultural information centre to provide other producers with assistance and advice.
Since 1995, the Curtin Growth Programs have given owners of small to medium businesses, the practical business skills to effectively grow their company. This is achieved through a unique combination of workshops delivered by business professionals and mentoring by some of WA’s most experienced business coaches.
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award is designed to recognise and encourage the vital contribution women make to rural Australia.
Note to Editor: A photograph of Maggie is available on request
Modified: 26 June 2008