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Local farmers with national goals

Emerging exporter award winners Rob and Krista Watkins.

WALKAMIN locals Krista and Robert Watkins have recently returned from Brisbane following the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards.

The husband and wife’s business, Natural Evolution, was recognised as a prominent up-and-coming business and received the accolade for emerging exporter.

The company was also a finalist in this year’s sustainability category, which they won back in 2016.

Natural Evolution uses wasted fruit and vegetables and turns them into food protein powders and other natural products produced here on the tablelands.

Their innovative work has pioneered a new industry for agriculture with explosive outcomes, even attracting international visitors for their unique technology and products.

Being a local farmer, founder and Head of Innovation Robert Watkins never forgets his roots; banding together with local farmers and buying their otherwise unused and discarded bananas has helped grow the strength of the local agriculture community.

Mr Watkins was ecstatic about this award and what it meant to his company.

“It’s great to be recognised for the hard work and effort in getting this project from an idea to the international stage in just two years,” he said.

“We are grateful for the support and are always striving to better agriculture.

“We feel that maybe this is why we won this prestigious award.”

Natural Evolution has now finished designing and running a new dryer technology along with a new specialised company that is dedicated to the recovery of farm resources and turning that into product.

Along with interests in growing the agriculture business in the Far North as a whole, the Watkins’ now also have their sights set on crops including everything from mushrooms to broccoli, potato, beetroot and many more.

Natural Evolution’s start was a rocky one but with support from the State and Federal Governments, it has grown into the powerhouse superfood supplier we see today.

“People laughed at us when we came up with the idea for the product,” Mr Watkins said.

“We started this from an idea that was fuelled by our passion and that enabled it to succeed.

“We would like to thank the people that believe in us, including our customers, friends, other local farmers and the great team working at Natural Evolution.”

Mr and Mrs Watkins have also been entered into the National Ernst and Young EY Entrepreneur competition as well as being national finalists for the Disruption Award in Sydney at the end of the month.

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