Perkes takes out award

Tablelands Advertiser - - LIFESTYLE - Bron­wyn Wheatcroft

A BIG­GER crop is part of the fu­ture plans for 2017 win­ner of the Char­lie Nas­tasi Hor­ti­cul­tural Farmer of the Year Award.

Co­bra Hill Or­chards owner Matthew Perkes was awarded Farmer of the Year at the Mareeba Dis­trict Fruit and Veg­etable Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion 2017 an­nual in­dus­try din­ner last Fri­day.

He took out the prize, beat­ing three other farm­ers, and is now aim­ing to im­prove his busi­ness and crop by plant­ing 1000 more trees in the next year.

The Shep­ard av­o­cado and lime grower said it hasn’t been easy get­ting to where he is but cred­ited his fresh eyes in the farm­ing in­dus­try and his wife’s farm­ing back­ground.

“I was pretty wrapt to win the award. Know­ing the fam­ily and know­ing how pres­ti­gious they are in the farm­ing in­dus­try, it is an hon­our to win this award,” he said

“I was up against a lot of big farm­ers out there that can do a lot of things so it was pretty good to take it out.”

The tradie turned farmer was Cairns Ap­pren­tice of the Year in 1998 and has now been shap­ing his own farm for 13 years.

“You can’t beat the farm­ing life­style,” he said.

“It is a lot of work and a lot of time. You get noth­ing for your first four or five years, just a lot of work but as you are build­ing you get more in­volved and in­vested in your farm.

“You can’t just turn up Mon­day to Fri­day, it is a sev­en­day a week job, but once you have it run­ning smoothly it will work for you.”

Mr Perkes said he will con­tinue to build Co­bra Hill Or­chards but it would all de­pend on the up­com­ing wet sea­son and water re­stric­tions whether he ex­pands or not.

He said farm­ers’ big­gest prob­lem right now is water.

”There is a lot of land in the re­gion that could be used and vi­able for fu­ture crops if there was more water,” he said.

“But, it will all de­pend on water se­cu­rity and rain­fall.”

Mr Perkes said he hoped to con­tinue to build his farm and thanked his wife, Ju­lia Perkes and her fam­ily for shar­ing their knowl­edge about farm­ing over the years.

Pic­ture: Bron­wyn Wheatcroft

Co­bra Hill Or­chards owner Matthew Perkes is the 2017 Char­lie Nas­tasi Hor­ti­cul­tural Farmer of the Year Award win­ner in Mareeba.

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