11 Apr Richard Cole – Pigs ‘Bridging the Divide’
Richard Cole of ‘Lachlandale’ West of Forbes has been a devoted contender at The Sydney Royal Easter Show for many years. Along with his wife, Heather, and work experience students from Brisbane Waters, he brings his pigs and steers here to compete. This year, he says, is the best they’ve ever had.
“Amongst other awards we’ve won Champion Junior Boar of Show, Reserve Champion Senior Sow of Show, and Best Berkshire Exhibitor of Show.”
The Show is important for the Coles to create a reputation of excellence for their Berkshire Pig Stud ‘Riverglen.’
“As a result of our time at The Show, we do get a lot of orders from our stock and it’s a great way to get your business out there.”
Richard with his Junior Champion Boar in Show
Richard and Heather have their eggs in many baskets with a working dairy and beef cattle operation on their property, alongside their pig stud. Richard believes that now more than ever is a great time to be involved in agriculture especially for young people.
“Now is the first time in my life that I’ve seen all commodity prices good. I think the world is starting to be aware that we need food and we are a huge food bowl compared to a lot of other countries in the world. I think this will happen in our favour.”
For Richard and Heather, agricultural education is important, particularly for those in metropolitan areas. Fifteen years ago the Coles began taking on work experience students from the Central Coast school Brisbane Boys High agriculture program.
“It is our duty to give willing students from metropolitan areas exposure to real agriculture. We take these students around the farm, to livestock sales and other events. To see the look on their faces is fantastic. If only half those students come back wanting to work in agriculture, we’ve done nothing else but teach them where their food has come from and what farmers do.”
Richard says he answers a lot of questions from spectators at The Show with a lot coming from people unaware of where their food comes from.
“About three years ago, we were getting the pigs judged when a forty-year-old man starting asking me question from over the fence. He asked what they were judged on and I told him that along with conformation and structure they were judged on meat. He pointed to the pig and said “What? There’s meat in there?” I then had to tell him that his bacon and ham comes from a pig – I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Richard with his Reserve Senior Champion Sow in Show
Richard says more needs to be done to educate people on agricultural industries. He believes a lot of education comes from seeing agriculture first hand and this is one reason why agricultural events such as The Sydney Easter Show are great for bridging the divide between city and country.