She’s happier in a tractor than in an office and now Myalup’s Lauren Patane is preparing to share her love of horticulture with the nation after being named WA’s Rural Ambassador. Ms Patane, 25, was one of five Statewide ambassadors from different agricultural societies vying for the honour at the Royal Agricultural Society of WA’s Councillors Lounge on Sunday, September 24. The fourth-generation farmer was chosen as the South West representative after being nominated by the Brunswick Agricultural Society and becoming its first State finalist in 20 years. She will now go on to represent WA at the National Rural Ambassador contest next year, with hopes to boost the profile of horticulture both within and outside of the agricultural industry. “When you talk about agriculture, most people think cattle, crop or sheep,” Ms Patane, who has spent the past five years on her family’s farm, said. “As a rural ambassador, I can bring a different perspective to the issues and challenges faced in the industry. “I really want to raise the profile of horticulture within the agricultural industry and educate the public about where their food comes from — we don’t use shovels and hessian bags to harvest potatoes anymore.” Ms Patane was selected from a field of five finalists, including Wagin Agricultural Society’s finalist Chloe Blight. Ms Patane is the operations manager at the family business Patane Produce at Myalup, continuing the rich horticultural legacy of her great-grandfather, Alfio Patane, who migrated to Australia from Italy in 1924. In its current incarnation, just 50km from the original Alfio’s first farm in Donnybrook, Patane Produce is a family-owned and run business in the Myalup horticultural strip. They grow carrots, onions, broccoli and potatoes, with established export chains to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Further closing the supply loop, the produce not up to supermarket standards feeds the family’s 300 head of cattle — a hormone-free herd of European and Angus steers run under the banner of Patane Farms. Ms Patane is making her own mark in a business and industry that would have — in a different time — been reserved only for her brothers. As a teenager working on the farm in her spare time, Ms Patane completed her ATAR at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar before completing a bachelor of science at the University of WA. Ms Patane credits her parents, Penny and Michael, for giving her the confidence to succeed. “I remember when I came home from school and on the holidays and stuff, I was sort of always more in the office, I always put up a fight because I didn’t want to be in the office,” she said. “They (my parents) have always been quite good. Now I’m out about all the time and I still have to do some office work stuff. Like this morning I was in a tractor and now I’m on a forklift. I’m quite lucky like that.” But she believes any women interested in getting into horticulture should just “jump straight into it” and know they would find themselves within a network of other women — and a lot of men — happy to help them find their way. The annual title of rural ambassador is bestowed on a young rural adult aged between 20 and 30 with a passion for living and working in rural communities. The national competition starts with the appointment of up to 12 rural ambassadors per State, who then compete for the title of State or Territory rural ambassador. Those winners then go on to compete against other winners for the national title.