Announcing Australia’s Best Young Growers

A potato grower from Tasmania, a native herb supplier from South Australia, and a mixed crop farmer from Western Australia are among the shortlist nominees for the prestigious 2021 Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year award.

Celebrating fruit and vegetable producers aged 35 and under, the Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year Award will be presented at the National Awards for Excellence on 9 June.

The national award celebrates outstanding young growers who champion the horticulture industry’s success and show a commitment to innovation in an effort to define the next generation of future leaders.

The shortlisted nominees for the 2021 Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year award are:

Young Grower of the Year 2021 Nominees

Meet the nominees for the 2021 Young Grower of the Year award.

Anthony De Ieso, age 30, Adelaide, SA

Anthony De leso
Business Thorndon Park Produce
Expertise Growing vegetables!
Crop Focus Bunch Line vegetables
Methods Intense outdoor horticulture Commercial methods and others such as IPM

Caitlin Radford, age 22, Grower and Director, Moriarty TAS

Caitlin Radford
Business CO Agriculture Pty Ltd
Crop Focus Wheat, potatoes, carrots & fodder crops
Methods Bio fumigation, strip tilling & biodynamic
Young Grower Challenges The initial costs and opportunity of starting a farm on their own
In 5 years I'll be: Running my own farm with my partner, introducing some new technology and hopefully will have found a niche crop to grow

Kane Busch, age 33, Grower, Bairnsdale VIC

Kane Busch
Business Busch Organics
Crop Focus Celery, broccoli & cabbage
Methods Certified Organic farming using regenerative farming techniques
Young Grower Challenges Managing workload and labour shortages
In 5 years I'll be: Seeing the business have improved structures and strong markets to keep up with the strong growth

Renee Pye, age 26, Marketing and New Product Dev. Manager, Parilla SA

Renee Pye
Business Zerella Fresh
Crop Focus Potatoes, carrots, onions & cereal crops
Methods Conventional farming with IPM
Young Grower Challenges Availability of professional development through networking and face to face courses
In 5 years I'll be: Working on different farming techniques to help better the industry and discovering more sustainable produce packaging

Jake Shadbolt, age 26, Grower, Swan Hill VIC

Jake Shadbolt, age 26, Grower, Swan Hill VIC
Business Scotties Point Farms
Crop Focus Beetroot, Broccoli, Onions & Pumpkins
Methods Conventional Farming
Young Grower Challenges Finding people who are young and hard working
In 5 years I'll be: Married, with some children and fully running Scotties Point Farms in partnership with my brother

Marlon Motlop, age 31, Director and Farm Manager, Adelaide SA

Marlon Motlop
Business The Native Co./Quality Harvest
Crop Focus Australian native herbs, fruits & leafy greens
Methods Nutrient Filmi Technique, IPM, Protected Cropping, climate-controlled greenhouse
Young Grower Challenges Startup costs of creating a business and challenges to secure education and training due to funding
In 5 years I'll be: Educating the community to use Australian natives through school programs & creating opportunities for Indigenous Australians

Sam Spirili, age 29, Grower, Wandin North VIC

Sam Spirili
Business Spirli Strawberries
Crop Focus Strawberries
Methods Mostly conventional with a large focus around IPM. Recently moved into hydroponic
Young Grower Challenges Labour and working out how we can do things as efficiently and sustainably as possible
In 5 years I'll be: Still learning and finding new challenges to keep the industry moving forward

Jake Ryan, age 26, Grower, Manjimup WA

Jake Ryan
Business Three Ryans/Goodooga Farms
Crop Focus Cauliflower, Broccoli, Kale, White Cabbage, Red Cabbage & Cereal Crops
Methods Conventional and regenerative farming
Young Grower Challenges Convincing the older generation to give young growers a go and difficulty for young growers to get started in the industry
In 5 years I'll be: Trailling new ideas, in order to produce healthier and more nutrient-dense food and consulting to help farmers transition into regenerative farming

Justin Vanstone, Grower, Crowley Vale QLD

Justin Vanstone
Business Vanstone Produce
Crop Focus Spring onions, Silverbeet, Broccoli, Broccolini & Pumpkin
In 5 years I'll be: Exploring the possibility of exporting any of the products we currently grow and whether there is a market for them internationally.

Mitchel East, age 28, Owner/Manager, Manjimup WA

mitchel-east
Business Willarra Gold
Crop Focus Passionfruit, Avocados
Methods Regenerative/Biological
Young Grower Challenges Continuing to farm into the future with a changing natural environment. Meeting the demands of regulation and the market as it shifts to an environmental and ethical focus towards food production and consumption.
In 5 years I'll be: Still farming, but on my own land with my partner. Developing agritourism and expanding our processing facility to utilise unsalable fresh food so we can build resilience in our land and our business. 

Matthew Griggs, age 32, General Manager, Lucaston, TAS

Matthew Griggs
Business Lucaston Park Orchards
Crop Focus Cherries, Apples, raspberries, plum, quince
Methods Conventional Farming, IPM
Young Grower Challenges

High cost of entry to the agriculture industry. Finding quality managment teams and harvest crews to support young growers.

In 5 years I'll be: I see myself leading a highly motivated multi-skilled team who share the common goal of producing the best possible fruit at a competitive price!  

Xavier Toohey, age 36, Grower, Wallace VIC

xavier toohey
Business Xavier Toohey
Crop Focus Potatoes, canola, wheat, lucerne, hay, lambs and cattle
Methods Conventional – but we’re always trying new things.
Young Grower Challenges

Getting a start, that's the hardest thing. Pests and diseases, commodity prices and labour are also huge issues.

In 5 years I'll be Still on the farm, hopefully a little less in debt and in the position to have a bit more family time.

Christina Kelman, age 26, Grower, Wallacia NSW

Christina Kelman
Business Rita’s Farm
Crop Focus Leafy greens, legumes, citrus, root vegetables and fruit-bearing crops including tomato, zucchini, capsicum and eggplant
Methods Certified organic

Jase Dobra, Grower, Gingin, WA

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Business: Loose Leaf Lettuce Company

Tasmanian nominee, 22-year-old Caitlin Radford, works on her family’s multi-generational farm. She said she’s thrilled to have made the award shortlist and plans to make the most of the opportunities that come with being a Young Grower nominee.

“I feel incredibly humbled and proud to be nominated for the 2021 Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year award,” Caitlin said.

“I’m excited as it will be my first Hort Connections. We’re making the journey to Brisbane to get as much out of the experience as possible. I really look forward to meeting and networking with the other finalists.”

Marlon Motlop, 31-year-old Director and Farm Manager of The Native Co in Adelaide, is also delighted to be nominated. He hopes the recognition will be an opportunity to bring awareness to the native food industry.

“Being nominated is a huge achievement and great recognition for a lot of hard work,” Marlon said.

“My driving force is to shine a light on the world’s oldest surviving flavours and inject them into the new world, creating opportunities for the community throughout Australia to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and ancient farming.”

Third-generation Manjimup grower, 26-year-old Jake Ryan, is also shortlisted. He said the nomination was unexpected and that the national awards were essential for the industry development.

“I was surprised at first, but I’m very grateful and excited to be nominated,” Jake said.

“It’s important to honour young growers to keep inspiring them to be creative with their approaches to current issues. It also helps to show older generations that there may be different solutions to current or old issues and sometimes change is needed.”

For Nick Koch, Corteva Agriscience Marketing Manager, the 2021 Young Grower nominees showcase the wealth of talent in Australian horticulture.

“Corteva Agriscience is delighted to continue our sponsorship of the Young Grower of the Year Award and play a role in the career progression of the leaders of tomorrow,” Nick said.

“Congratulations to all the nominees. They are the best and the brightest young growers in Australia today and demonstrate the incredible depth of talent in the industry.

“We welcome each nominee into the Young Grower Alumni and look forward to getting to know them all before we announce the overall winner at the National Awards for Excellence in Brisbane on Wednesday 9 June.”

AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said the Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year award is a strongly contested and important category.

“Corteva Agriscience’s ongoing support of Australia’s young growers is a terrific illustration of industry leadership. We need to recognise the leaders of the future and celebrate the ability, innovation and enthusiasm of young people who have chosen a career in horticulture,” James said.