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Sophie’s rural reward: food all-rounder claims woman of year gong

STAND-OUT WOMAN: Mandagery Creek Australian Farmed Venison owner and Local is Lovely blogger Sophie Hansen has been presented with the NSW-ACT Rural Women’s Award to develop a new online program to help primary producers. Photo: SETH BUCHANANORANGE food writer and venison farmer Sophie Hansen is hoping to help other producers through an online course after winning the 2016 NSW-ACT Rural Women’s Award on Tuesday.
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Mrs Hansen has been writing an online food blog Local is Lovely for the past four years, runs Mandagery Creek Australian Farmed Venison with her husband, is raising two school-aged children and helps with catering jobs.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the award encourages rural women to complete projects in an area of their passion and includes life coaching and mentoring, as well as a $10,000 bursary for the winner to put towards their project.

Mrs Hansen said she would put the money towards starting an online farming and food-based course called My Open Kitchen, which teaches primary producers to use social media to boost their profile and business through activities such as posting photos of their produce.

“There’s a huge interest in food, people are buying food magazines and watching cooking shows, I think it’s a great time for farmers to jump on that,” she said.

Along with the bursary, the award gives Mrs Hansen the opportunity to participate in the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ course and she will compete for the national Rural Women’s Award on October 12 at Parliament House in Canberra.

Mrs Hansen says My Open Kitchen is about embracing social media to gain new opportunities by taking photos, collating pages, navigating social media and forming support networks to gain exposure and grow their businesses.

Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Minister for Primary Industries, Land and Water Niall Blair presented Mrs Hansen with her award on Tuesday night.

“Distance has not stopped Mrs Hansen creating a dynamic online community, showcasing the best produce of the Central West and the people behind it,” Mr Grant said.

“She is an extremely talented woman whose ambition to help others grow their businesses is both inspiring and generous.

“Her project My Open Kitchen will empower others to embrace social media to gain new opportunities and reap long-term benefits to their farming businesses and rural communities.”

Other finalists were Fiona Mead from Narrabri, Aimee Snowden from Tocumwal and Hannah Wandel from Kingston ACT.

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