Horticulture

Shepparton East orchardist nominated for award

By Alana Christensen

For Barolli Orchards’ Nathan Barolli, being nominated for the 2018 Young Grower of the Year Award is a humbling experience.

Not one for accolades, he admits he was a bit surprised to hear he had been ‘‘dobbed in’’ for his work at the Shepparton East orchard.

The family business was started by his parents Billy and Julie in 1980, and Nathan and his brother Dustin now help to run it. It produces about 150000 bins of fruit a season.

Maintaining 150ha of pears, apples and stone fruits on its Shepparton East property, the family also has further orchards in the NSW town of Batlow.

Although he initially went to university to study business, Mr Barolli said joining the family business was a natural progression.

‘‘My head was always just going ‘what’s going on at the farm?’; I was more worried about what was happening at the orchard than what was going on at university,’’ he said.

The orchard employs up to 100 people in the peak of the season and as many as 30 people in the off-season, mainly in the packing shed.

While always looking to innovate within the business, Mr Barolli said the huge investment needed could be difficult to swallow, especially as prices for pears and apples continued to cause pain for producers.

‘‘(The prices) are a bit of a disaster,’’ Mr Barolli said.

‘‘It’s common, and we know it goes up and down, but it’s pretty disappointing.

‘‘Some years are good. You can’t be too negative, you’ve just got to keep on trying.’’

With the results of the Young Grower of the Year Award to be announced at the 2018 National Awards for Excellence gala dinner in Brisbane on Wednesday, Mr Barolli said he would make the trip north to attend the evening.

The national award, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience and AUSVEG, honours young growers aged 35 and under in the Australian horticulture industry who demonstrate a high level of commitment to innovation and enhancing the agriculture profession.

AUSVEG chief executive officer James Whiteside welcomed the award and said the Australian horticulture industry needed more young people involved.

‘‘It’s important that we continue to recognise the achievements of young growers, such as our 10 2018 nominees, to ensure we foster the next generation of leaders,’’ Mr Whiteside said.