Ahead of this year’s Awards for Excellence, we had a talk with previous winner, Mark Trzaskoma, about the significance of the awards.
Tell us about yourself, Mark.
I live in Warragul, West Gippsland, Victoria, where I am the production manager for Battunga Orchards. We are a vertically integrated company that currently produces apples and pears on around 100 hectares, situated in Warragul and Hoddles Creek in the Yarra Valley.
Which award did you win?
I won the 2016 Grower of the Year award.
What did you receive the award for?
I won for my innovative and practical approach to adopting and adapting new orchard designs and in doing so, lifting orchard productivity, pack out and profitability. I’ve also been open and willing to share my ideas and practices with other industry members.
What did receiving the award mean to you?
It was humbling to win the award when there were so many worthy people in the room. It’s also an honour to be recognised by your peers. I found that winning the award boosted my drive to make continual improvements at Battunga Orchards.
Do you know who nominated you?
I believe I was nominated by Phil Butler, from E.E Muir and Sons Pty Ltd.
You’re very passionate about the work that you do. What do you love about working in the apple and pear industry?
I love working in apples and pears because it presents many varying challenges that keep things interesting. I believe that the industry has huge scope for improvement and having the opportunity to play a part in improving the operations of Battunga Orchards is extremely satisfying. Technological advancements will soon be available for use in the industry, which is also exciting.
I find the apple and pear industry to be fairly open, with many growers willing to share their knowledge and experience with others and this makes the industry a pleasure to operate in.
Did your award make it to the poolroom?
The trophy is now at home in my study and my certificate is on the wall of my office!
What would you say to someone considering nominating a peer?
Go ahead and nominate them! There is nothing to be shy about and unsuccessful nominations aren’t made public so there is really nothing to lose.
Grower of the Year award nominees are judged according to the following criteria:
- Is outstanding across all aspects of fruit production including growing, environmental management, staff management and product quality.
- Is innovative, challenges convention and implements efficient practices (such as integrated pest management, minimises wastage, water conservation, precision horticulture, technology advances and value-adding to product).
- Actively contributes to the broader industry (such as participating in international study tours, industry committees, forums, conferences and field days).
Nominations close April 3. Good luck to all 2018 nominees!