Love changes everything for one born-again farmer
EARLY mornings and weekends full of backbreaking work were more than enough to turn one teenager off farming for good.
Growing up on property on Gatton-Esk Rd and helping out on her father’s hobby farm, Raneece Lerch did not know what she wanted to do for a career – but she knew it was not farming.
“I had two older brothers and dad would make us go down to the farm and pick cabbages or pick pumpkins or watermelons,” she said.
“Being a teenager, I hated it. It was hard work. I never wanted to be a farmer and I remember saying one day that I would never marry a farmer.”
Then she met and fell in love with Andrew Lerch, of Lerch Farms.
Today she is the packaging manager at Lerch Farms and said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love it … I think I just like being outside and being busy,” she said.
“It’s rewarding when you see, from growing and packing, how much hard work has gone into it to get to that point.”
But her voluntary foray into horticulture did not begin when she married Andrew.
“Going out of school, it’s hard to find a job when you’re young,” she said.
“I was looking for a job in admin but they were always after experience and I didn’t have much experience.”
She began working at a packing shed in Gatton before transferring fully to work on Lerch Farms.
Raneece said she enjoyed her responsibility and said her role on the farm involved a number of tasks.
“I supervise the workers, get them going, make sure they’re doing the job properly, dispatch, load and unload trucks and make sure everything gets everywhere on time,” she said.
There is never a shortage of things to be done.
While she is based on a 45-hectare property in Laidley, Lerch Farms spans four properties across Blenheim, Laidley Heights, Lake Clarendon and Cambooya.
The property is finishing up its crop of brassicas for the season, including broccoli and cauliflower as well as a crop of beetroot.
Hotter months comprise a much-deemed downtime for the team, allowing everyone time to recover.
Even so, the Lerch’s try to make sure they’re producing something, to make sure their workers are able to continue making a living.
“We have been talking about growing pumpkins over the summer,” Raneece said.
“Last year we grew pumpkins just to keep our workers busy – so they’re not completely out of work.”