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Corteva Agriscience™ is proud to announce the winner of the 2018 Hort Connections Young Grower of the Year Award.

Victorian mushroom producer Chris McLoghlin of The Organic Mushroom Farm has taken out this year’s prestigious AUSVEG Young Grower of the Year Award. Read more about Chris and the talented group of nominees below.

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Our innovative products, such as Success Neo insecticide, Transform insecticide with Isoclast Active and Prodigy insecticide, are the culmination of years of ongoing research designed to selectively remove insect pests to promote the establishment of beneficial insects and help growers build healthy and sustainable agricultural ecosystems.

Find out more at corteva.com.au

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Success Sprouts for Young Victorian Mushroom Grower

Victorian mushroom producer Chris McLoghlin of The Organic Mushroom Farm has taken out this year’s prestigious AUSVEG Young Grower of the Year Award.

The award, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience™, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, was announced at the Gala Dinner at the 2018 Hort Connections Conference held in Brisbane on Wednesday 20th June, 2018.

Chris is the founder and director of The Organic Mushroom Farm which markets the Mycelia Organics brand of mushrooms through independent grocers and the major retailers nationally. The Farm is the largest certified organic mushroom farming company in Australia.

Mushrooms grown include: white button, cups, and field mushrooms as well as brown crimni, swiss brown cups, and portabella mushrooms.

Chris has worked in organic fresh produce and grocery supply chains and distribution, has founded online retail and hospitality businesses, and consulted for and worked in several start-ups – both food and technology related. He has been a Director and co-Chair of the Organic Federation of Australia since Sept 2015 and a member of the Australian Organic Industry Working Group executive committee.

Nick Koch, Marketing Manager for Horticulture & Insecticides for Corteva Agriscience™ said:

“We were delighted to present Chris with the Young Grower of the Year Award for 2018. His commitment and dedication to organic farming is inspiring.  Working with his team and local community he is supplying organic mushrooms to happy customers across Australia,” he said.

“Chris is a passionate advocate of organic primary production, supply chain & industry development and is a great example of a young person leading the charge for innovation which will help our next generation of growers to prosper.”

“We are pleased that our industry recognises and celebrates the achievements of outstanding young growers such as Chris.”

“I would also like to congratulate the nine shortlisted nominees in this category: Andres Cruz – Butler Market Gardens – VIC; Chris Pham – Nexgen Produce – NT; Daniel Hammond – Bulmer Farms – VIC; Daniel Quattrochi – Monika’s Organics – SA; Jake Shadbolt – Scotties Point Farm – VIC; Mitch East – Willarra Gold – WA; Nathan Barolli – Barolli Orchards – VIC; Olivia Ryan – McCain’s – VIC; Steph Corrigan – Corrigans Produce Farms – VIC.”

“The wide range of fruit and vegetables that these young growers are producing is just phenomenal – from baby leaf; baby broccoli; potatoes; kale; apples and pears and mushrooms.”

AUSVEG, the industry representative body for the Australian vegetable and potato industries, manages the 2018 National Awards for Excellence, including the Young Grower of the Year Award.

Meet the Young Grower of the Year Award nominees.

  • Andres Cruz, Butler Market Gardens, VIC
  • Chris McLoghlin, The Organic Mushroom Farm, VIC
  • Chris Pham, Nexgen Produce, NT
  • Daniel Hammond, Bulmer Farms, VIC
  • Daniel Quattrochi, Monika’s Organics, SA
  • Jake Shadbolt, Scotties Point Farm ,VIC
  • Mitch East, Willarra Gold, WA
  • Nathan Barolli, Barolli Orchards, VIC
  • Olivia Ryan, McCain’s, VIC
  • Steph Corrigan, Corrigans Produce Farms, VIC

Get to know the future stars of the Australian horticulture industry.

Chris McLoghlin
Age 33, Melbourne VIC

  • Business The Organic Mushroom Farm
  • Expertise Director
  • Crop Focus Mushrooms
  • Methods Certified Organic

What is your current focus on the farm?

Increasing efficiencies and increasing profits through technology.

 

How do you feel about being nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award?

I’m very grateful to be one of the ten Young Grower of the Year nominees for 2018.

 

Why do you think it is important to honour young growers?

It can be difficult to get young people into the industry, for them to make farming their career of choice. Awards like this raise the industry’s profile and show what younger growers are doing.

 

What are the major challenges to young growers?

Succession and family farm legacy planning is really important. As is supporting entry points for younger people to join the industry. The industry has work to do around both of these challenges.

 

How are you using IPM?

We have a controlled environment to keep pests out. Being unable to use the most regular chemical and fungicide tools in our Certified Organic operation, we rely on physical barriers, and fastidious hygiene from staff. We keep the surrounding environments very well manicured to discourage potential scarids and other bugs from getting comfortable in the long grasses!

 

What’s your favourite beneficial bug? And why?

There’s actually an array of bacteria in our casing soil (peat moss), that precipitate the fruiting of the mushroom organism. Part of what we do in managing the growing environment is mimicking conditions that would occur after rain and storms – which is the ideal environment for this bacteria, and subsequently our mushrooms to thrive.

 

Are you attending Hort Connections conference? Have you been before? What are you looking forward to?

Yes I will attend Hort Connections. I’ve been before and it’s good to see the different parts of the supply chain. I’m looking forward to seeing what the latest is at in terms of what is going on across the industry.

Daniel Hammond
Age 34, Bairnsdale, VIC

  • Business Bulmer Farms
  • Expertise Horticulture
  • Crop Focus Salad lines and baby broccoli
  • Methods Balanced

How do you feel about being nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award?

I’m honoured and proud to be nominated for this award at a national level.

 

Why do you think it is important to honour young growers?

For a strong and sustainable industry, we need to attract and retain high quality young people into horticulture.  The vegetable industry is a great one and should be an attractive career choice for young people.  I believe the awards on a whole help to build on the image of the industry.

 

What are the major challenges to young growers?

Time, capital, opportunity and risk.  It can be difficult to create a good opportunity as a young grower in the industry and then very challenging to balance the associated time, risks and costs.

 

How are you using IPM?

Our growing practices aim to maintain and build healthy soils and in turn healthy plants. I believe this reduces the pressure from pests and diseases. Improving irrigation techniques, cover cropping, crop rotations and variety selection have been a few areas we have worked on.

 

What’s your favourite beneficial bug? And why?

Lady birds. We find that aphids also find our fresh vegetable enjoyable to eat.

 

Have you ever sought advice from an agronomist for your farm? If so why? Who is your agronomist? If not, would you consider it in the future?

We work with a couple of off farm Agronomists and also have our own full time Agronomist employed at Bulmer Farms.  Stuart Grigg Ag-Hort Consulting has been working with Bulmer Farms for many years.  We also utilise the services of Noel Jansz at Elders Bairnsdale.

 

Are you attending Hort Connections conference? Have you been before? What are you looking forward to?

I’ll be attending the Hort connections conference.  When I’ve been in the past I’ve got a lot out of meeting new and existing people from within the industry.  I’m certainly looking forward to the networking.

Olivia Ryan
Age 22, Ballarat, VIC

  • Business McCain Foods Limited
  • Expertise Agronomist
  • Crop Focus Potatoes
  • Favourite Beneficial Bug Ladybird and Hoverfly - they eat a LOT of bad bugs

How do you feel about being nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award?

I’m very surprised and delighted to be nominated.

 

Why do you think it is important to honour young growers?

The next generation of Australian growers needs to come through. There are a lot of older growers, and often the younger family members aren’t coming back to the farms. Awards like the Young Grower of the Year help recognise the contributions of young growers to keep the industry moving forward.

 

What are the major challenges to young growers?

One of the biggest current challenges for the industry is variety development. Sustainability, water use and succession planning are also extremely important.

 

How are you using IPM?

As an agronomist, we have field days with growers and discuss IPM strategies. We encourage growers not to spray every time they see a bug as Australia has a lot of good bugs. Growers need to be sure they are targeting the right bugs. Farmers often use broad spectrum insecticide which can cost less and be less effective than softer chemistry and or alternative methods.

 

Are you attending Hort Connections conference? Have you been before? What are you looking forward to?

Yes, I’m hoping to attend the Hort Connections conference. I haven’t attended before but it looks like a great event. A good chance to see what’s happening across the industry and meet new people. It looks interesting and I want to learn whatever I can.

Daniel Quattrocchi
Age 28, Adelaide, SA

  • Business Monika's Organics
  • Expertise Manager - All Operations
  • Crop Focus Bunch Lines
  • Methods Certified Organic

How do you feel about being nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award?

Excited and a little bit surprised to be up there with some of the big names in the industry.

 

Why do you think it is important to honour young growers?

To encourage young growers to stay in the industry and become leaders.

 

What are the major challenges to young growers?

Not enough young people are staying in the industry – competing with higher paying jobs eg mining.

Jake Shadbolt
Age 23, Swan Hill, VIC

  • Business Scotties Point Farms
  • Expertise Vegetable Production
  • Crop Focus Onions, Broccoli and Beetroot
  • Methods Conventional

How do you feel about being nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award?

Feel very honoured to be nominated. It’s an award I have always aspired to be nominated for since being part of the family business. It definitely has come as a surprise to be nominated so early into my agricultural career, but I am more than happy to be nominated.


Why do you think it is important to honour young growers?

I think it’s really important to acknowledge the next generation of growers who are willing to give things a crack. It’s not always the most rewarding industry, with challenges along the way that I know we all face so I think it’s great to be recognised for your efforts, and I hope that from this, it encourages more people to become involved.

 

What are the major challenges to young growers?

I definitely think that succession and a general passion for farming is lacking across the industry. Unfortunately, passion isn’t something you can be trained in or purchase, it has to be discovered and I think that when that happens, that’s where the magic is. It’s such an exciting lifestyle to live, I love it, and I can only hope that more people like myself aren’t caught up in just growing vegetables and making money, but to strive for excellence and influence in everything we do.

 

Have you ever sought advice from an agronomist for your farm?

Yes. We use E.E Muir and Sons. Steve Lorimer does a fantastic job working with us for all our agronomy needs. So, a big thankyou to him and his team in Swan Hill.

 

Are you attending Hort Connections conference? Have you been before? What are you looking forward to?

This is my first time to Hort Connections. I’m pretty excited to see what all the show and shine is about. It’s an awesome industry which I think should be celebrated!

Stephanie Corrigan
Age 28, Clyde, VIC

  • Business Corrigan Produce Farms
  • Expertise Farming
  • Crop Focus Baby Cos, Celery, Kale, Leeks, Silverbeet, Celeriac, Pak Choy, Onions
  • Methods Integrated Pest Management
  • Favourite Beneficial Bug Lady Bugs - They're cute!

What is your current focus on the farm?

I am just about to start reviewing and hopefully changing some of our celery varieties and their planting time slots. Currently I’m trying to increase our planting teams efficiency and organization.

 

How do you feel about being nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award?

I was quite surprised as I didn’t feel I was dignified enough in the industry to receive any acknowledgement.

 

Why do you think it is important to honour young growers?

To motivate and encourage their future in the industry.

 

What are the major challenges for young growers?

For young farmers I think finding a work/life balance is going to be very important to help keep them on farm.

 

How are you implementing IPM on your farm?

We have implemented IPM for many years. We check our crops regularly and spray only when needed. We use chemical that are as IPM friendly as possible.

 

What’s your favourite beneficial bug? And why?

Lady bugs – they are cute

 

Have you ever sought advice from an agronomist for your farm?

Yes, we have agronomist check our farm weekly.

Mitchell East
Age 25, Manjimup, WA

  • Business Willarra Gold
  • Expertise Farmer/Grower
  • Crop Focus Tropical Fruits, Vegetable Production
  • Methods Permaculture and IPM - We work with what we’ve got with soil health and nutrition. We work to the strengths of the area and the environment.
  • Current Focus Expansion and Research

What is your favourite beneficial bug?

Bees – I am a hobby bee keeper. They are fascinating creatures and they play a huge part in food production. They are essential to the environment.

 

How do you feel about being nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award?

Genuinely surprised! It was unexpected that I would be recognised in this way. When I got the email, I thought they might have got me mixed up. That it could have been a mistake and I still don’t know who nominated me!

 

Why do you think it is important to honour young growers?

These awards can spark interest among other young people in the industry, helping showcase the good prospects and leadership opportunities in horticulture for the younger generation”. It’s a good encouragement for young people to continue to involve themselves in a growing and innovative industry.

 

What are the major challenges to young growers?

For young growers climate change is going to create major challenges for what has been moderately predictable growing conditions. The industry will need to develop more ambitious techniques to cope with harsher weather events and overall less rainfall. Hothouses will play an important role in the future of food production as water and chemical use can be limited, as well as controllable growing conditions which will speed up growing times and lengthen growing seasons to 12 months a year.

 

How are you using IPM

Creating a strong foundation for plant health is critical, healthy plant are less susceptible to pests and it can make it easier to manage pests if they become an issue. There are definitely harsher and lighter IPM options. We tend to go with the lighter options. Approaches vary dependent on the pest and we always vary depending on the case.

 

Have you ever sought advice from an agronomist for your farm?

Yes definitely. We liaise with agronomists regularly. We use private agronomist for avocados who gives us a year long, forecast based on soil and leaf analysis. This helps us build up an understanding of what the plant needs over time.
We’ve also been dealing with an agronomist for the last two years for our passionfruit.  I have learned a lot over this time and this extra knowledge means that I don’t have to ask so many questions and can be a lot more confident in my decisions.

 

Are you attending Hort Connections conference? Have you been before? What are you looking forward to?

Yes. I went to the Hort Connections conference last year and am going again this year. The Gala Dinner was the highlight last year. Farming is fairly solitary work, so events like Hort Connections are great opportunities to exchange ideas with like-minded people, network with interesting people and make new contacts.

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