Grower of year had ‘no idea’ of nom­i­na­tion

Lock­yer let­tuce grower wins ma­jor award

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Front Page - Ali Kuchel

IT’S no sur­prise An­thony Staatz is an ex­cep­tional farmer.

He’s the fifth gen­er­a­tion of his fam­ily to farm in the Lock­yer Val­ley and now pri­mar­ily grows let­tuce va­ri­eties for the Aus­tralian con­sumer.

But farm­ing goes be­yond plant­ing a crop and pro­duc­ing let­tuce, baby cos and baby spinach – it’s in­no­va­tion and com­mit­ment to farm­ing that’s the key to suc­cess.

Let­tuce makes up about 70% of what’s grown by Mr Staatz and his team.

They sup­ply Coles su­per­mar­kets with 40% of their lettuces be­tween May and Novem­ber.

Mr Staatz’s ded­i­ca­tion to hor­ti­cul­ture has proven note­wor­thy as he was awarded AUSVEG’s Grower of the Year last Wed­nes­day in Ade­laide.

The award com­mends out­stand­ing achieve­ment across all as­pects of veg­etable and potato pro­duc­tion, in­clud­ing grow­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, staff man­age­ment and qual­ity of pro­duce.

Un­sure of how he was nom­i­nated, Mr Staatz said he was very hon­oured to re­ceive the award.

“I’m very proud that we won it,” Mr Staatz said.

“It lifts the pro­file for hor­ti­cul­ture on a na­tional sense (and) it puts the Lock­yer Val­ley in con­text of be­ing one of the bet­ter grow­ing re­gions.”

It’s the first time Mr Staatz has been named Grower of the Year.

His vic­tory keeps the award in Queens­land for the fourth con­sec­u­tive year.

This year alone, in­no­va­tive changes to Koala Farms have in­cluded ad­vance­ments in the nurs­ery, which in­cluded pro­tec­tive crop­ping, al­low­ing the roof of the nurs­ery to open and close de­pend­ing on the weather.

They’ve in­vested into soil health and us­ing com­post to get the best out of the crops and in­tro­duced new hu­man re­sources prac­tices to fur­ther lead­er­ship and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The Grower of the Year award is the high­est ac­co­lade for mem­bers of the in­dus­try, and AUSVEG CEO James White­side said to reach such a level of recog­ni­tion was an im­pres­sive achieve­ment.

“An­thony is con­stantly look­ing for new tech­nolo­gies and prac­tices to adopt on-farm in an ef­fort to in­crease ef­fi­cien­cies and im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity of his farm­ing meth­ods,” Mr White­side said.

❝pro­file It lifts the for hor­ti­cul­ture on a na­tional sense... — An­thony Staatz

PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL

GREAT GROWER: Let­tuce farmer An­thony Staatz has been named the AUSVEG Grower of the Year.

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