12 May 2023, AU: Whether they’re a pineapple grower in the Glasshouse Mountains, a fruit grower in Victoria’s Yarra Valley or producing organic vegetables in Golden Grove, horticulture’s high achievers in the Corteva Agriscience 2023 Young Grower of the Year Award have one thing in common – a passion to produce the best food possible.
The award honours Australia’s best young fruit and vegetable producers who are embracing new challenges through innovation and technology, with the winner to be announced at the Hort Connections Gala Dinner on June 7 in Adelaide, as part of the National Awards for Excellence.
Each young grower nominated for the award is a champion for horticulture, demonstrates a commitment to the industry and their community, and understands the importance of sustainability to ensure food security and industry longevity.
The nominees for the 2023 Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year Award are:
- Robert Arvier, West Pine Ag, Penguin, Tasmania
- Dominic and Joe Boratto, Boratto Farms, Bacchus Marsh, Victoria
- Mitch Brimblecombe, Moira Farming, Forest Hill, Queensland
- Jarryd Dolling, Dolling Produce, Keppoch, South Australia
- Luigi Mondello, Gawler River Produce, Ward Belt, South Australia
- Joe Napoleone, Red Rich Fruits, Coldstream, Victoria
- Sam Pike, Sandy Creek Pineapple Company, Glasshouse Mountains, Queensland
- Daniel Quattrochi, Monika’s Organics, Golden Grove, South Australia
Sam Pike is a fourth-generation farmer and chairs the industry body, Australian Pineapples. Sam’s family balance the environmental sensitivities of farming in a catchment that feeds into the Great Barrier Reef and are collaborating with the Department of Environment and Science to trial a bioreactor to remove nitrates from water flows.
Sam says it’s extremely important to give young growers credit for what they’re doing, to attract others into the industry.
“There’s a perception that farming isn’t a highly skilled job but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.
“You’ve got to be a manager, accountant, mechanic, scientist, salesperson and more on the farm.”
Joe Napoleone would agree. A qualified solicitor, he’s the fifth generation of the family to work in Red Rich Fruits, which has packing houses in three states and the Northern Territory, and markets apples, pears, stone fruit, lemons, mandarins and mangoes.
“We’re embracing technology to improve the quality and processing of our fruit,” he said.
“We use apps in the orchard to track costs through to the packing shed and software to monitor packouts, sales and stock traceability.
“Our next project is growing a new apple variety, Cosmic Crisp®. We’ve secured the rights to grow and market the apple in Australia and the first commercial crop will be ready in 2024.”
A stone fruit’s throw from Joe, the Boratto brothers at Bacchus Marsh are excited to both be nominated for Young Grower of the Year.
Dominic and Joe work together growing baby spinach, wild rocket, coloured lettuce and brassicas, and grow marigolds around their crops to encourage beneficial insects to clean up pests.
Both say the biggest challenge for young growers is getting the opportunity to start, especially if they’re not in a family business.
In South Australia, vegetable grower Daniel Quattrochi of Monika’s Organics is a fourth-generation market gardener who has been riding on tractors since his feet could reach the pedals. When Daniel was 12 his father passed away and he became a partner in the business with his mother, Monika.
Monika’s was the first certified organic farm in South Australia to partner directly with major supermarkets Woolworths and Coles. Their key challenges are rising production costs for diesel, fertiliser and electricity.
He says awards like Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year are important for the industry.
“These events and awards keep our industry united,” he said.
“We’re all in the same boat with similar challenges and this kind of recognition helps us keep going. There’s a promising future and loads of opportunity in the industry.”
Corteva Agriscience Marketing Manager, Nick Koch, said the company is proud to continue its support of the award and the next generation of leaders in horticulture.
“The calibre of nominees is outstanding,” Mr Koch said.
“We want to support and reward rising talent and their communities to build a stronger, more innovative, and sustainable industry.”
The nominees will be attending the industry’s premier conference, Hort Connections, from June 5-7 in Adelaide, South Australia.
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