Lockey Valley farm nominated for major award
ONE of Queensland’s biggest farming operations is in the running to be named Australia’s best.
Rugby Farm, from Gatton in the Lockyer Valley, will this week carry the state’s hopes as a finalist in The Weekly Times Coles 2019 Farmer of the Year Awards.
Operated by brothers Matt and Dan Hood, the third-generation farming business plants the equivalent of three averaged-sized vegetable farms a week, produces 20 million packs of value-added product annually and employs more than 900 staff.
The Hoods are recognised for transforming a traditional “mum and dad” business into a professional corporate outfit that grows 6070 hectares of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, pumpkin and sweet corn in four geographical regions of Queensland and NSW. “If you put that into perspective, the average vegie farm is 100-odd acres (40.5 hectares) – we are planting three of them every week,” Matt said.
“It is a mammoth task; the logistics and the intensity of horticulture – no one knows unless you’re in the game – every single day.”
The Hoods have led on innovation for generations, first pioneering irrigated farming in the Lockyer Valley, and in more recent decades embracing technology such as drones and automated weed removers.
Six years ago they launched pre-cut vegetables in a ready-to-cook format.
In more recent years they have developed sweet potato and zucchini noodles, and root vegetable chips.
The Weekly Times Coles Farmer of the Year Awards, supported by The Sunday Mail, honour the best in agriculture and innovation.