ON THE outskirts of the Bega Valley lies a property run by the well-known Apps family, Ron Apps and his three sons, two grandsons and most recently, a granddaughter.
The successful dairy farm contributes milk to the Bega Cheese Company, however, it was mental hardships, a love story and a strong passion for agriculture that saw 22-year-old Ebony Apps take on the dairy industry and the family farm.
Dairyfarmer Ebony Martin, Corridgeree, Bega, shelved her career at the local pharmacy to help out on the family farm and hasn't looked back since, taking a step into the agricultural world, strongly encouraged by her father.
“I grew up on a family-run dairy farm, so I feel it is only natural to have some interest in the dairy industry, I have always enjoyed helping out and being hands on,” Mrs Martin said.
“As a child I always spent any spare moment with dad on the farm, even those 'sick days' off school were mostly spent around the dairy doing anything I could to help.”
Mrs Martin encourages young women to get involved in agriculture and overcome hardship by following their passion.
After getting married in April, she and husband Brad now live on the family farm, not far from the new 50-head rotary dairy.
“When our new dairy was up and running in August 2016, the farm needed an extra set of hands and thankfully they are mine, it's an honour to be able to work as a fourth generation dairy farmer,” she said.
Currently milking between 420 and 430 cows on the 50-cow rotary dairy, new technologies such as automatic cup removal, automatic iodine spray, automatic drafting gates and a computerised system monitoring the cows entering and leaving the dairy make things easier.
“It makes milking cows so much easier and more enjoyable, with the technology throughout,” she said.
Mrs Martin’s passion for the dairy industry and ability to inspire young women in the agricultural field and being a powerful voice for women in rural communities led her to be nominated for The Land’s Showgirl competition.
“After being Bega Showgirl 2017 and competing at zone level against nine other young women who all had their own stories and passion for a larger variety of agriculture then just dairy farming it was a huge eye opener.”
While Mrs Martin was competing in the Showgirl competition she was also planning her wedding and monitoring the farm at the same time.
“Meeting with so many like-minded and passionate young women makes you want to do more and achieve more for your own line of agriculture and learn more about the larger-scale agriculture in Australia.”
The Apps family has seen fame throughout its time in the Bega Valley, Ron Apps, sons and grandsons featured on a Bega Cheese television commercial and their pictures hang at the local cheese factory.
The family has purchased more land and expanded its operation further across the river.
“Working on the farm is like living the dream, I love the variety of tasks that I undertake each day and being outside,” she said.
“Being on the farm doesn't feel like a 'job', I see it as being lucky enough to wake up each day to do what I love, which makes early mornings 100 per cent worth it.”
She believes working beside her father and brother on Corridgeree – opposite the Apps main dairy Yarranung – has strengthened both the father-daughter bond and her passion for the industry.
“When you go to work and your employer and fellow staff are your family it makes fitting in, being comfortable and happy just that bit easier,” she said.
Mrs Martin’s passion for their property and the South Coast saw her get married on the family property overlooking the dairy enterprise.
“Brad and I met in high school, when he was in year 12 and I was in year nine, it was there we kicked off our friendship," she said.
“When Brad finished school and went on to do an electrical apprenticeship with Bega Cheese, I guess we got caught up in our own lives and lost contact a bit.
“But two years later we found ourselves regrouping after regularly seeing each other at the gym and from there on we got closer and turned our friendship into a relationship, now here we are married.”
Mrs Martin puts her success and ability to find herself in the industry she is in down to her husband.
“It's not hard to feel loved and welcomed by Brad, he has always been such a kind, thoughtful and caring person to everyone he meets,” she said.
“After suffering with depression for many years it was Brad’s bright and bubbly personality that helped me come out of that.”
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