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‘Tractoring’ for Women – the ladies get behind the wheel

Melissa Smith

In the picturesque Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula, where rural living meets the demands of farm life, a new initiative has been born. At the heart of this endeavour is Belle Baker and Patrick O’Driscoll (affectionately known as Pod), co-founders of the Tractoring For Women Program.

“Tractoring” famously coined by Jeremy Clarkson on his show Clarkson’s Farm, became a funny catch phrase for many families who live off the land. “I’m off to do some tractoring” became a household joke for my family and for Belle and Patrick too as they embraced the term for their award-winning program.

With a shared passion to develop a sense of empowerment and safety among women in agriculture, their inspiration didn’t solely stem from the statistics revealing that tractors are involved in 20 per cent of fatal accidents on farms in 2022, but also from the voices of female clients seeking guidance and understanding in tractor operation.

As they witnessed new farmers move onto small acreages in their region, Belle and Patrick recognised the need for a program that would demystify tractors and empower women to confidently take part in day to day tasks on their farms. The Tractoring For Women initiative was born out of a commitment to break down gender barriers and dispel the notion that “tractoring” is mostly a male domain.

By breaking down these barriers, the program increases women’s self-assurance, and not just in tractor operation, as new found confidence is discovered by participants in other areas too. “That’s the best bit,” said Belle “after learning how to drive a tractor, they began thinking about what other things they can achieve.”

Tractoring for Women founders, Belle Baker and Pod O’Driscoll

Some women, myself included, find themselves hitched to a farmer. Without a clue about agriculture and even less idea about the machinery in the implement sheds, the thought of jumping into a tractor and taking it for a spin can be a little overwhelming. Being taught by your significant other can bring it’s own unique challenges too! So for those who want to learn and feel confident taking part in farm jobs, this program is the perfect opportunity.

Tractoring for Women, an Award-Winning Program

The inaugural Tractoring For Women event, held on May 11 last year, was a smash hit, prompting a demand for future sessions. The success of the program was recognised by the prestigious 2023 SafeWork SA Augusta Zadow Award, testament to Belle and Patrick’s dedication to improving workplace safety within agriculture.

In addition to the group sessions, Belle and Patrick introduced ‘One-On-One Tractoring For Women’ training, a personalised experience designed to cater to individual needs. This session allows women to spend time with Belle, an experienced trainer, to gain hands-on experience and boost confidence in tractor operation.

Looking ahead, Belle and Patrick envision Tractoring for Women as a National program. Their focus will stretch beyond the boundaries of the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu, aiming to revolutionise how women across Australia engage with tractors and agricultural practices. The program not only imparts essential operational skills but also aims to create a community where women feel empowered, confident, and capable of contributing to the agricultural landscape, even when it’s not their primary job. And in good news for the Clare Valley, Tractoring For Women is heading north, with a session scheduled for late February, as well as another at their home base in the Adelaide Hills.

While Tractoring For Women takes centre stage, Belle and Patrick continue to offer a huge range of services through their business, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Farm Services, including farm maintenance, property management, farm skills training, stock pregnancy scanning, and invaluable farm advice. Their commitment to cultivating confidence and safety extends far beyond the tractor, encompassing a holistic approach to supporting farmers in their agricultural endeavours.

As the success of their pilot program unfolds, their dream of empowering women in rural areas across Australia is steadily becoming a reality. With support from future partnerships Belle and Pod hope to spread their unique, specialised program far and wide.

To find out more about Tractoring For Women, click here.



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