Ardmona man is star grower

By Country News

A trio of northern Victorians have been recognised for their work in the horticulture industry, taking out a number of Apple and Pear Australia’s 2018 awards last week.

APAL handed out a total of eight Awards for Excellence at Hort Connections’ Brisbane conference, with Ardmona-based orchardist Gerard Alampi named Grower of the Year for contribution across all aspects of fruit production including growing, environmental management, staff management and product quality.

A third-generation orchardist, Mr Alampi said he grew to love the family business, Prima Fresh, from a young age and had developed a vision to offer a consistent premium brand with a 12-month supply delivered through consolidation.

‘‘It was a surprise, I didn’t expect it, I’m very appreciative,’’ he said of the award.

‘‘I guess people see the commitment that everyone puts in and into the industry. It’s important to keep inspiring the younger generation and motivate them to come through the industry.

‘‘We don’t want the industry to decline and it’s important we work together to compete as a united front against other export markets.’’

Third-generation Shepparton East orchardist Nathan Barolli was recognised as a Rising Star of the industry for his work at Barolli Orchards.

Mr Barolli is involved in the family-owned business alongside his brother Dustin and parents Billy and Julie.

Their business has recently expanded to include pears, apples and plums and operates five orchards and two cool storage facilities in the Goulburn Valley; and another orchard and cool store in Batlow in NSW.

In total, the orchards account for 142ha and cool-stores of 12000 bins.

Mr Barolli was also nominated for the 2018 Hort Connections’ Young Grower of the Year Award at the event.

Agriculture Victoria researcher David Williams was recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his more than 40 years’ experience in the research, development and extension space of orchard pest management.