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Blackwood Valley vigneron named WA’s 2009 Rural Woman of the Year

Kirsten Skraha, of Wild Orchid Wines, in Western Australia’s Blackwood Valley region, has won this year’s WA RIRDC Rural Women’s Award.

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award celebrates rural women and their contribution to primary industries. It gives rural women the chance to discover their strengths and build their capacity to contribute to primary industries and rural Australia.

Kirsten has been actively involved in Blackwood Valley’s viticulture industry, having served as secretary of the Blackwood Valley Wine Industry Association for three years. As well as helping to run her husband’s family’s mixed enterprise farm, which includes 17.5ha of winegrapes, Kirsten also coordinates a national, award-winning environmental management systems program at the Blackwood Basin Group. The project helps farmers identify, prioritise and manage environmental issues on their properties and provides recognition for environmental stewardship, which Kirsten sees as vital to the social, economic and environmental health of our rural communities.

“I am interested in helping to establish further adoption of environmental practices and management within the viticulture industry that will lead to better production efficiencies and quality produce,” she said.

Despite growing up in Perth, Kirsten has spent the last five years in Boyup Brook and says she has developed a strong passion for rural communities.

“Moving to the south west and being part of such a tight-knit community filled with amazing people has been inspirational to say the very least,” she said.

“I am extremely honoured to have received this award and to be representing rural women of WA. I am looking forward to meeting many more rural women as part of the award, and encouraging them to gain recognition for the valuable contributions they make to our communities.

“In the long term, I have a vision for sustainable environmental management and sustainable communities.” she concluded.

As part of her award, Kirsten hopes to visit other producers, particularly within the viticulture industry, who are implementing good management practices or adopting innovative practices to see how the changes they’ve made can be more widely applied. She then plans to communicate these to producers within the southwest through a planning workshop and case studies.

Kirsten will head to Canberra in late March for the national selection of RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Winner.

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