NEW HOME: Koala Farms WHS and QA manager Angelo Maggione said the “loveable” community of Gatton was a reason he stayed in the Valley after working as backpacker.
NEW HOME: Koala Farms WHS and QA manager Angelo Maggione said the “loveable” community of Gatton was a reason he stayed in the Valley after working as backpacker.

How a backpacker became Lockyer’s employee of the year

SIX years ago when Angelo Maggione arrived in Australia, he didn’t imagine his journey would lead him to find a home in Gatton, let alone recognition as the Valley’s best employee.

Koala Farms’ quality assurance manager arrived down under in 2013, on a working holiday.

After working in the Sydney produce markets, he was given a recommendation to head to Gatton and find vegetable grower Anthony Staatz, to complete his 88-days to secure a second-year visa.

Starting in 2014 as a farm labourer, he quickly moved to the nursery which he found suited him perfectly.

“It was really interesting, I loved that kind of field,” Angelo said.

His hard work and dedication made an impression, and on his planned last day at the Lake Clarendon business, he was asked to stay.

After a short break, he made the journey back to Koala Farms and completed a diploma in Agriculture to gain sponsorship for a work visa.

Since then, he hasn’t looked back and his work was recognised at the Lockyer Valley Business, Training and Apprenticeship Awards.

Angelo was awarded employee of the year, and said the recognition was a “great feeling”.

“It felt that pretty much all the effort from the last four years were paid off in one night,” he said.

A big part of his desire to stay at the business was the culture, and in particular the trust owner Anthony Staatz had in Angelo.

“What I loved in a nutshell is how he kept me motivated to work,” Angelo said.

“That’s what I was missing in my country – the motivation, that thing that keeps you going and let you wake up with a smile.

“The more that I was showing that I could do things the more responsibility I was getting.”

The “loveable” community in Gatton also went a long way to keeping Angelo in the region.

“They made me feel at home,” he said.

He hoped the award would help bridge what he felt was a divide between the backpacking community and locals the region.

“Backpackers area a really good resource for horticultural businesses, especially in this area where there is lot lack of employees,” he said.

“I’d love to get more connection between the local community and backpackers.”

Long-term, he hopes to one become a general manger of a farm – and also has his sights set on a retirement plan.

“My end goal is when I retire to have my own little farm and grow my own food in a totally sustainable, regenerative way,” he said.


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