The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - SHAUN Mc­MANUS

A DER­WENT Val­ley fruit grower is the pick of the bunch, tak­ing out the Fruit Grow­ers Tas­ma­nia Young Grower of the Year.

James Cle­ments, of Gran­ton, man­ages Wandin Val­ley Farms’ Rosegar­land site, which looks af­ter 60ha of cherry trees rang­ing in age from one year to about 20 years old.

Mr Cle­ments, 41, grew up in the Huon Val­ley be­fore mov­ing to the Der­went Val­ley about eight years ago, and he has man­aged the Rosegar­land farm for about four and a half years.

“I’ve al­ways worked in agri­cul­ture, in green­houses or or­chards, and I moved to the Der­went Val­ley ... just be­cause the Der­went Val­ley is ex­pand­ing as a big hor­ti­cul­ture area, whereas the Huon is prob­a­bly de­clin­ing a bit,” Mr Cle­ments said.

He was named the Young Grower of the Year late last month, and be­lieves the work he did de­vel­op­ing a new 25ha cherry block played a big role in win­ning the award.

“We had been look­ing around for a suit­able block for a while, we man­aged to find one lit­er­ally across the road,” Mr Cle­ments said.

“It was a sheep farm, so there was a lot of clear­ing of fences, knock­ing out of old trees, and fill­ing in a few dams and then con­struc­tion of roads.

“We put a lot of ef­fort into sur­vey­ing the block so that we got all the drainage and water sys­tems right from day one, and then did a lot of work lay­ing it out with GPS trac­tors to get all the rows gun-bar­rel straight.”

The 25ha block was planted last year, and Mr Cle­ments hopes to see the pro­ject through un­til the first heavy crop, which is ex­pected in 2021 or 2022.

He said it was an hon­our to win the award.

“To be re­garded at the same level in the in­dus­try as some very ex­pe­ri­enced, suc­cess­ful or­chardists is quite a com­pli­ment,” he said.

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