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A Legendairy opportunity 

Gippsland girl, Jessica Stewart, is trading the green pastures of the Macalister Irrigation District for the ice and snow of Canada in winter.

The youngest daughter of the Legendairy Stewart family of Stratford, near Sale, Jessica will be spending five months with a family outside Ottawa in the country’s south east.

It’s a path already taken by her father Iain, who spent two years in Denmark and seven months on a Canadian dairy farm, where the mercury dropped to minus 35 degrees and a rope was needed to navigate the path from the house to the barn.

Iain is hopeful that Jessica’s adventure through the World Exchange Program will be just as challenging and exciting as his experience with the same program more than 20 years ago.

“I finished my apprenticeship, worked on this farm for eighteen months and then spent a couple of years away,” he said.

“It was brilliant. I’m 100 per cent happy that I did it. It changed my view towards the dairy industry in Australia.”

Jessica, who hasn’t yet decided if she wants a career as a dairy farmer, said the prospect of being away from home from September to the end of January is both daunting and exciting. 
  
“Most likely I’ll get on the plane, sit down and think ‘what the hell have I got myself into?’” the 16-year-old said.

“I’ve travelled before with Mum to visit her family in England, so I’m used to the long flight. I think I’ll be good.”

The Year 10 Gippsland Grammar student is hoping to visit Ontario dairy farms, which are all barn systems due to the freezing winters in the region.  

Back at home, Jessica does her share of work in the dairy shed and is on duty during the busy calving season.

“I pretty much understand the basics of what you have to do on the dairy farm, it’s probably more the financial and employment side that I would have to learn,” she said.

Iain, who is a GippsDairy board member, won’t be pushing Jessica to stay on the farm when she leaves school and is hoping that travel will broaden her view of the world beyond Gippsland. 

“Spending time in Canada and Denmark opened my eyes up to the rest of the world,” he said.

“I wasn’t just locked into Australia anymore, I could see how the rest of the world was operating.”

Legendairy farming families like the Stewarts are helping to sustain Australia’s $4 billion dairy industry. For more Legendairy stories, head to legendairy.com.au

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