A sprinkle of magic

Newbie Dungog farmer Janne Ryan is trying to reconcile fighting climate change
with running a cattle farm.

Janne Ryan is a storyteller and a passionate curator of ideas. A journalist with over 35 years’ experience she has worked for the ABC, the Australian Financial Review, and The Australian. She is a co-founder of TEDxSydney, an ever-growing event platform for the propagation of Australian ideas, creativity and innovation; of Arrow Collective, a not-for-profit organisation that provides seed funding for art projects in partnership with Sydney Opera House, and of Sparkkle Space, a website showcasing creatives in architecture and design.

Yet here she is, on the porch of a charming but slightly worn 1940s farmhouse outside of Dungog, overlooking a 1,000-acre farm that runs 300 heads of cattle. Janne and her sister Lyndie, who calls herself the silent partner, took over after their father Peter passed away in late 2019. They are both committed to continuing the family’s long legacy of farming in the Dungog area.

Questions aplenty

Bubbly and bursting with energy, Janne avidly dissects every possible angle of an argument with gusto, quick to challenge premises and to reality-test widely held beliefs. Digging deep is engrained in her DNA after decades as a journo. Turning the tables and interviewing her is a head spinning tour de force as she is nimbly hopping from the future of energy production (“Surely, renewable electricity has to be a no-brainer.”) and the advent of stem cell meat (“I might be one of the last generations to move cattle around the paddocks.”) to the significance of native frogs, the importance of local supply chains and the praise she has won for her beef from the likes of renowned Sydney chef Simon Sandell who worked with Matt Moran.

She describes herself as a passionate supporter of decisive action against climate change, calling Atlassian co-founder and environmental activist Mike Cannon-Brookes “my hero.”

So how will she run this farm in a way that pays the bills while staying true to her convictions? When describing her approach to farming she keeps referring to her TedX days: “I know it sounds corny, but TedX changed my life – it made me realise that dreams can come true and that I was really interested in the transformation of the world.

“I discovered that as much as you may have big ideas in your fantasy world, there is beauty in day-to-day momentum, in doing something every single day, no matter how small. That’s how the big things eventually get done.

Read more about Janne and her passion in the Spring issue of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography courtesy of Janne Ryan