WAY TO GROW
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.