Anthony De Ieso
Regional Winner | Community & People category
Anthony De Ieso is a vegetable grower at Thorndon Park Produce and a 2020 Growth Awards Regional Winner in the Community & People category. Read on to learn more about Anthony.
What’s the one thing you have done in your career you are most proud of?
The establishment of the Feed the Need program last year is the thing I am most proud of. This is an education program which helps university students get their foot in the door of the industry. It allows them to get their hands dirty and learn a little bit about what I do as a grower. We then set up the opportunity for them to meet industry representatives and a chance to network. At the end of the day, the crops that are grown under the Feed the Need program are given to the charity Foodbank. It is a program that shares the knowledge I have gained, with young people who are coming up in the industry and may not have had the opportunity to learn this.
How will you share what you learn with others in the industry?
I am pretty active on social media and have a small but dedicated industry following. I have a YouTube channel where I share knowledge from our farm and information from trials. We are always the first to put our hands up to host workshops on our farm and it’s a chance to bring people together and talk with participants including growers, industry representatives and chemicals reps. While I am a user and there’s great merit in social media, I also like to share information face-to-face too. I am part of a young growers’ group on WhatsApp where we constantly share information so it’s about using what is available.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity in the next 12 months?
The biggest opportunity for the next year is to increase the number of young people that I mentor. People can use Google to try to find information about agriculture, but it won’t be specific or relevant enough on many occasions. I want to use the next 12 months to put myself out there, to be that relevant information source to students and to get new people into our industry. It will also involve the expansion of the Feed the Need program that we started last year.
What is the biggest barrier to achieving success in the next 12 months?
I would say that I am the biggest barrier to achieving success in the next 12 months. I like to think about my mentoring as a seed you put in the ground. You need to do more than just plant it. You need to give it the nutrients it needs – water and nurturing. I need to be conscious of making sure that the mentoring is not neglected because if I don’t consciously make time, then it will stop me achieving my goal. The challenge is for me to adapt – if something frees up time for me then I need to be conscious that this time can be spent achieving my goal.
What is the biggest challenge Australian Ag has to overcome in the next 10 years?
Attracting new participants into agriculture is one of the great challenges to overcome in the next 10 years. We need to make agriculture a desired career up there with medicine or law – something that people want to do. The average age of vegetable growers in Australia is 56 and I think it would be pretty similar across a range of industries. At 31, I am considered young for a grower. It’s a fairly big challenge we need to overcome, trying to get new faces into the industry. If I can achieve encouraging a few people into the industry, then that is great. Those who want to enter the vegetable industry also face their own challenges, as many of the businesses are family-owned. We need a continual crop of new fresh people who want to be involved in agriculture.