“I feel lucky to live in the regions and have a career.”

Tash grew up on a farm in Cunderdin, where her family still farm today. Growing up in the regions was a great experience for her. Tash has a lot of fond memories of her childhood on their family farm. “Farming is a massive part of my life”. For most of her childhood, Tash spent a lot of time in the sheep yards, days off from school to help with shearing, and cold mornings on the motorbike before school getting the sheep in. Spending her last few years in Perth for high school.

Agriculture was always what Tash wanted to be in, and she says honestly, “I always thought I was just going to marry a farmer”. Reflecting now, she admitted when she started her studies in Agricultural Science that, she thought she would be able to do trials on her husband’s farm. Highlighting the changes in generational mindset, Tash is thankful her daughter, who is 6, says ‘I wants to be a farmer’. Tash then went on to do a PhD in Biotechnology, working as an academic across various regions and countries. “I loved the science behind agriculture, but I wanted to have a bigger impact outside the lab”. 

Tash founded Agristart when she saw a gap in the market, with the disconnect between technology start-ups and being able to connect with growers on farm. Bridging the gap, Agristart connects researchers, technology start-ups and corporates with Farmers to understand how farmers make decisions on farm, and what data they need to collect to make better decisions and improve the adoption of technology on farm. “I was living in Perth when I founded Agristart, and I realised when I started the business that I could run it from anywhere!” So Tash moved to one of the regional incubators in Vasse and has been based there for the last 3 years. 

She was heavily pregnant at the time of starting Agristart when she met her co-founder Peter. Tash states that it was refreshing to work with a man from a corporate background that didn’t make her feel irrelevant and unheard even though she was pregnant, which she had experienced by so many others. “We connected around gaps for innovation in Western Australia, taking what he had seen work in other regions was how the Harvest Acceleration program got started”. Agristart has run the program five times and helped over 60 businesses in Western Australia. 

Having spent a lot of time travelling, Tash says this has allowed her to have perspective. “In Western Australia, our farming style is fairly unique. I have been able to bring a global perspective and different techniques as well as being open to change”. Also, travelling has given her an appreciation for how innovative Western Australia farmers are dealing with their soil types. “I am passionate about sustainable farming, and I feel a lot of farmers feel pressure for organic and regenerative – A lot of farmers I know are already doing it. They just don’t label it”. 

Being a single mum, Tash says the flexibility of running her own business means when she has her kids, she can finish early and pick her kids up and spend quality time with them. Still, when she doesn’t have them, she can focus on putting the extra hours into the business to see it succeed. “I have three fantastic staff that allows me to do the things I want to do, including being part of boards.” Tash currently sits on a range of board and advisory roles, including Deputy Chair for Busselton Jetty Inc, GRDC Western Panel, South West Angels committee, Non-Executive Director for Carbon Conscious Investments Limited and Harvestaire. “I believe being a part of bigger organisations allows me to make connections, as well as to broaden my own perspective to be more successful in my own business”. 

As a RRR woman, Tash is motivated to stay in the region “I don’t think I could think of anything worse than moving back to the city”. Wanting to move back to the regions was always on the cards for Tash. Loving the community feel and open space, Tash says the environment just allows her to flourish. “I feel very lucky to live in the regions and have a career”. Her biggest piece of advice for regional women is to build confidence and build networks. “We get a lot of women who come through our regional incubator programs. Women seem to recognise that you can’t do everything on your own”. 

Tash admits it is not easy, and it is essential to realise this. For the future of RRR Women in the regions, Tash would like to see a future where more women feel empowered, particularly in some areas. “There is still a long way to go for women to have equality in the workplace and in the home”. Tash is also passionate about men being involved in some of these conversations around equality. “I want to see more cultural change for men”.