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Tony and Marja Jarvis

Tony and Marja Jarvis

Elmstead, Cudgewa, Victoria

The Jarvis family

Tony's great grandfather selected the central part of the property in the 1860s. One of his eldest sons selected an adjacent piece of land that Ken, Tony's father went on to buy in the 1960s. At 82 his father still helps out on the farm although he and his wife retired about 6-8 years ago.

Tony and Marja have since formed a partnership in the business. They have four children − Dillon, Jessica, Kerstin and Zoe, who is not pictured.

Originally the farm was mixed but as machinery has got bigger everything has become more specialised. The main enterprise is now predominantly beef comprising 250 breeding cows. They used to run a few sheep for wool and, sometimes, fat lambs. They also have a small grass seed enterprise cropping seed off 50-100 acres every year and two tourist units which are rented out during the year. Tony's brother also has a small agro-forestry unit of 12 hectares. Apart from the challenges of the terms of trade and the price of land, weeds, especially blackberry in the marginal country, are going to get a lot worse unless a biological method of control is found. A lot of the machinery work on the farm is done by contractors, including hay and harvest, weed spraying and fencing.

Tony has a strong involvement with the local Landcare group and a close affinity to the land he works which has developed from over 21 years working on the property.  During a recent drought the stress was very extreme, bringing both Marja and Tony closer together. Having the choice to walk away from the property and their relationship was never a consideration. They both love the lifestyle and wouldn't want to move anywhere else.

Audio and transcript

Tony Jarvis

audio_w15 Listen to Tony's story (MP3 file 692kb)
Duration: 1 minute, 28 seconds

When my great grandfather selected and grandfather ran the farm, it was originally a mixed farm as all the farms in this area were. They had small dairies, probably fattened a few pigs, ran a few cattle and fattened them and did all sorts of things.

As machinery and enterprises have gotten bigger, everything's become more specialised.

At present the main industry is beef. We run about 250 breeding cows, we also have a small grass seed enterprise where we crop between 50 and 100 acres for grass seeds each year. Some years [are] more successful than others.

Challenges, I mean in terms of trade, I don't think are getting any better. Prices versus costs are continuing to get worse and the price of land is, I think by comparison to what you can make of it, getting higher and higher.

So the prospect of younger people coming on to the land is getting less and less certain, which is affecting rural communities, 'cos part of being on the farm is usually also being in your local fire brigade, being on the football club, committees and doing all of those sort of things. And that's all part of rural communities and that is the part in particular that is going to struggle I think into the next 20-40 years.

Gallery slideshow

Below you can view a slideshow of the Jarvis family and their property.