Meet Elly Polonowita who keeps finding her way back to her rural roots

Today’s guest post comes from Elly Polonowita who is following her career pathway into agriculture via a graduate program.

This is Elly’s story ……..

Who doesn’t like a little bit of ‘chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night and pair of jeans that fit just right’?

Hi, my name is Elly Polonowita. I am graduate research agronomist with Agriculture Victoria. My position is funded by GRDC and is an 18 month program. I am based in South West Victoria in the high rainfall zone. Throughout the program I will spend time with the department in Hamilton, a grower group – Southern Farming Systems and a private agronomy company – Gorst Rural.

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Hand sowing a Septoria Trial, Hamilton, 2017

Winding back the clock a couple of decades I was living on 40 acres of bush land near Daylesford. This is where my sole purpose in life was to look after my baby born.

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My dream job was to be an ice-cream truck driver. In year one I moved to go to school in Essendon. For me this was the city. Houses were so close together, shops were a 5 minute walk away and there was nothing but asphalt roads.

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In year 9 and 10 I completed a certificate II in Conservation and Land Management, it helped me learn more about the environment and grow my love of wanting to help the world in which we live. I had an interest in flora and fauna from a young age.

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From year 8 I participated in Pony Club, learning all kinds of skills. I always enjoyed jumping more than dressage, I found it to be more exciting. In year 10 and 11 I completed a certificate II in Equine Industry. I did this by distance education and did an intensive week up in Wangaratta. This was when I first came across Agriculture as a subject.

At the end of school, I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to take. Agriculture wasn’t originally my first choice, but I’ve never regretted studying it since. I couldn’t move out of home straight away so my options to do Agriculture were between University of Melbourne and Latrobe University. In 2014 I got offered a place at Melbourne in the agriculture degree. I did my first two years at the Parkville campus in the city and then moved to Dookie College, basically Melbourne Uni’s operational farm campus, so that I could get more hands on knowledge.

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Whilst I was at Dookie College I completed a Certificate IV in Wool Classing, got experience at the apple orchard, robotic dairy and some cropping.

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A quote that has inspired me throughout life after school is “You’ve got to be in it, to win it”. I started university in 2014 with the mind frame of taking every opportunity and experience that is offered to me. Not being from a farming family or anything to do with agriculture for that matter, I felt as though I needed to put myself out there, to learn more about the industry and the people in the industry. I bought memberships, attended events, volunteered, extended my professional network and participated in competitions such as Intercollegiate Meat Judging and AWI National Merino Challenge. Over the three years I participated in the Merino Challenge I improved markedly, going from never having touched a sheep to being able to characterise wool and giving it an AWEX ID. The first year I competed I met the famous rams Fred and Truffles, who travel around Australia.

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Fred and Truffles

I’ve always had a love for food and cooking, but never thought I would be able to make a profession out of it. One day I hope to grow my own produce and teach people how to cook it seasonally. Bringing my own paddock to plates of others.

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Homemade celebratory student dinners; eye fillet w/ pumpkin and pea purees, roasted tomatoes and blanched asparagus. 

I have a passion to teach people about where their food and fibre comes from, whilst also connecting rural and urban folks. We can all teach each other a thing or two, through our experiences and stories. No two people have had the exact same journey. Can’t wait to see you around the camp fire, I’ll provide the marshmallows.

Read Elly’s opinion piece in The Stock and Land here 

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