APAL congratulates the team at Ceravolo Orchards, South Australia, who on Friday were awarded the Weekly Times Coles 2016 Horticulture Farmer of the Year award.
The Ceravolo Family were announced winners of the horticulture category at a gala event at the RACV Club, Melbourne, ahead of two other horticulture category finalists – Victorian capsicum grower LaSpina and Coastal Hydroponics, Queensland. They received $5,000 prize money.
The overall Farmer of the Year Award 2016 was won by Queensland beef farmers David and Prue Bondfield.
“We were so surprised when we won,” exclaims Joyce. “We were up against some other great businesses that appear a little ‘more exciting’ than apples.
“It’s great to receive any kind of recognition as it makes the public more aware of apple farming – which really can be ‘sexy’. Any positive publicity for the industry is a great result.”
Joyce, 27 has a chemical engineering degree and after working in the mining and dairy sectors joined her family at their juice processing plant Ashton Valley Fresh when she realised food production was her calling. She’s very passionate about encouraging the younger generation into orcharding roles.
“It’s so important to entice more young people to the industry and we really are fast-paced, innovative and moving forward, there are some really exciting things happening in our orchard and also the wider industry.”
There always seems to be something happening at Ceravolo Orchards. Currently excavation work is commencing for a new premium beverage hub at their Nairne property – which has been delayed due to the deluge of rain recently experienced in the Adelaide Hills. Here they will house a cidery, winery, distillery, brewery and production shed.
“The set-up will allow visitors to the property to see the beverage production process from start to finish and we’ll have a cellar door offering various dining experiences – including being able to take a picnic into the orchard to enjoy among the trees,” Joyce explains.
The Ceravolos are constantly improving their technology practices to maintain competitiveness and adopt new technologies such as introducing fruit probes that attach to hanging fruit to monitor growth, fertigation and irrigation requirements; two compact defect sorters in the packing shed; scannable watch bands worn by packers to keep produce traceable and every staff member accountable; and their fully automated juicing plant. In addition to apples, they also grow pears, cherries and strawberries.
As they were interviewed by the Weekly Times during 2016 the Ceravolos were automatically nominated for the award. “We underwent a comprehensive phone interview with the journalist from the Weekly Times in October, the article was published in December and we were announced as finalists in January,” Joyce explains.
The future for Ceravolos orchard is the next generation which is why they’re constantly moving and progressing and have been so open to adopting new, innovative technologies and business practices.