An innovative Tasmanian berry grower has been recognised as part of the country’s most prestigious agricultural awards programs.
Andrew Terry, who farms at Exton has been presented with this year’s Award for Excellence in Diversification as part of the national Farmer of the Year competition.
After purchasing an 81ha property at Exton with his wide Stephanie, Mr Terry decided to diversify into berry production in 2014.He soon had 4ha of berries in the ground at Exton and had also purchased a 6ha berry business from the Dornauf family at Elizabeth Town.
Nowadays, Mr Terry produces a diverse mix of premium quality strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries along with processing potatoes, poppies, pyrethrum and about 200 head of beef cattle a year.
Nominated for the award by his father, Mr Terry said it was shock to win.
“Dad put me up for it and I didn’t even know what award it was,” he said. Mr Terry said being able to meet like-minded producers from across the country was a highlight of the experience.
“That was awesome and the big thing for me,” he said “The group they pulled together was really interesting.
”After starting out with strawberries and raspberries, Mr Terry has now diversified into blackberries and will also soon add blue berry production to the mix.
“Some people are heavy on raspberries or strawberries, but we’re pretty well spread on all three and now we’re adding the blueberries,” he said.
“I guess I look back at that and think well I guess I am a bit of a diversifier, but it’s about spreading the risk.”
Mr Terry said talking to other competitors this year had highlighted the opportunities for diversification in Tasmania due to its climate. The issues of getting and retaining labour also had a common thread among other competitors.
“Talking and meeting those people was really interesting and I got some good ideas off some of them,” he said. With this season’s berry production now wrapped up, Mr Terry said planning for next season is now under way. That includes moving tunnels as well as planting a pruning.
Mr Terry said lessons had been learnt around sourcing labour for the industry this year, so hopefully as the COVID vaccines role out it may help borders to areas like the Pacific Islands open up sooner.
He said the Federal Government’s announcement of a three year visa program for agricultural workers from South East Asia was also welcome.