Writer helps drought affected farmers

AUTHOR and photographer Kathy Mexted has joined Matt Preston, Maggie Beer, Matt Moran and many other well-known chefs and writers to contribute to a cookbook that raises money for drought-affected farmers in Australia.

‘Farmer – The Cookbook’ will be available for early March and all proceeds will assist Australian farmers experiencing one of the toughest droughts this century.
The book contains recipes from world renowned chefs as well as personal stories from farmers around Australia.

Ms Mexted, who lives on a farm near Hanging Rock, said she approached the editor Jody Vassallo to see how she could help.“Jody said she needed a story to go with certain recipes – she needed a rice farmer, a wheat farmer and a really good story,” Ms Mexted said.

Ms Mexted grew up in Finley, NSW, an area where families are heavily reliant on farming income.

“I still feel a connection to that area, so I rang some of my contacts who put me in touch with some incredible people,” she said.

Ms Mexted wrote about inspirational farmers – Anna Jewel a rice farmer from Finley, Courtney Young and Ian Congdon who own a flour mill in Berrigan and Gillian Leeds from Jerilderie, a woman in her 70s who was a pioneer in the cattle industry.

Editor Ms Vassallo told the North Central Review the cookbook idea came to her when she was having trouble finding feed for her sheep on her Central Tilba property in NSW.

“I thought to myself – if this is what it’s like for me and my sheep, I can’t imagine what it’s like in even worse areas in Australia,” Ms Vassallo said.

“A huge team of writers, chefs, photographers, food stylists, food editors, proof readers, marketing and public relations people and designers all got behind the project.

“We didn’t want it to be a tale of woe – the farmers were clear about that, they’re stoic people and they wanted to share their life,” she said.

Ms Vassallo said Ms Mexted was incredibly generous to contribute to the project.
“Kathy was so incredible, she drove out and interviewed people and all of that was for free,” she said.

“Her heart was in it from the start.
“Kathy’s standard of work has been so incredible – she found three beautiful stories that have added so much to the book and she’s produced wonderful photos to accompany her stories.”

So far the project has raised $37,150 with cookbooks selling for $40 each.
“We’ve made it affordable and when people donate to the cause – they get something back which is special,” Ms Vassallo said.