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On the Land

7 November, 2021

Nominees unveiled in FNQ Farmer of the Year award

Three innovative far north Queensland farmers are in contention to win the prestigious 2021 Charlie Nastasi Horticultural Farmer of the Year Award

Mark Taylor.

RAYMOND Courtice, of Ontario Mangoes, Dimbulah; Mark Taylor, of Irresistible Orchards, Paddys Green; and Shaun and Debbie Jackson, of Daintree Fresh, Lakeland will find out whether they will get the gong at a dinner to be held on 19 November. 

FNQ Growers chair Joe Moro said the three nominees were remarkable examples of the diversity of the region’s horticulture industry.

He said the nominees were among the next generation of horticultural farmers in the region and had made significant contributions to horticulture. 

“The award was established in honour of Biboohra mango grower and industry innovator, the late Charlie Nastasi who was well known for his innovation and leadership,” Mr Moro said.

“Each one of our nominees this year have used innovation and leadership in varying degrees to shape and develop successful careers in horticulture farming.” 

A partner in Ontario Mangoes at Dimbulah where they grow Calypso mangoes and citrus, Raymond’s achievements include being the first Queensland mango grower to send fruit to Western Australia (development of protocol for whole-of industry); establishing a state of-the-art packhouse; and the establishment of a quarantine facility to assist with providing seasonal labour to Mareeba-Dimbulah region. 

Mark Taylor leads the family’s mixed horticulture enterprise based at Paddy’s Green, on the outskirts of Mareeba. A diesel fitter by trade, he started farming will little knowledge of tree crops and now grows lychees, limes and avocados. 

His achievements include crop diversification using pomegranates, a new crop not grown commercially on the Tablelands and only grown in a few places in Queensland; farm expansion to secure long-term viability in farming; and farm modernisation to achieve significant cost savings on inputs such as electricity and water. 

Shaun and Debbie Jackson’s farm at Lakeland grows pumpkins, papaya, passionfruit and lady finger bananas. The couple are relative newcomers to farming, having forged successful careers in the corporate world before moving to Lakeland in 2015.

Their achievements include crop development, including a new variety of pumpkin for export and domestic markets and leptospermum plants which produce Manuka honey; embracing soil nutrition; and using business knowledge and experience to implement a farm system which promotes economic sustainability.

The winner will be announced at a growers dinner on 19 November at the Mareeba United Football Club.

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