Kudla hydroponic grower Damian Manno has picked up the national title for Young Grower of the Year, just weeks after picking up the state title.
Mr Manno was named the national winner at the Hort Connections 2022 national awards for excellence gala dinner in Brisbane this week.
The Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year award is presented to a fresh produce grower and future leader in horticulture, who champions the success of the industry and shows a commitment to innovation to help inspire the next generation of growers.
Mr Manno has a strong commitment to quality and has developed his own innovative 'herbaliscious' basil brand, which provides basil to consumers with root stock intact for a higher quality product and better shelf life.
"Damian has proven himself a determined and successful grower, having set up his growing operation on his own without the support of an existing family business," AusVeg chief executive officer Michael Coote said.
"Within only five years, Damian has expanded his business to comprise a significant basil and hydroponic strawberry operation, which is an extremely admirable achievement given where he started.
"Damian regularly links with Indigenous communities to develop new native vegetable lines and is currently looking at trialing ways to grow native produce lines, such as native yams and Warragul greens, at commercial scale.
"Damian is a well-respected, strong young grower who is an emerging contributor at the industry level. He is an active member of his local community and readily imparts his knowledge to other local growers to help them improve their growing practices and grow their own businesses."
Mr Manno was not the only SA winner on the night, with Marlon Motlop, The Native Co, Kudla, winning the Butler Market Gardens Environment and Sustainability award.
The award recognises a business or individual who demonstrates a commitment to implement sustainable farming practices on-farm, develops innovative solutions to meet environmental challenges on-farm and shows leadership in promoting environmental issues in the local and wider community.
Mr Motlop is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young man who has taken a Native Australian product that has been grown for thousands of years by the country's First People, and has turned it into a commercial enterprise and made it accessible for the wider Australian community.
"Marlon has taken the initiative to provide opportunities for young Indigenous youth and assisting in their development towards understanding the horticulture and farming industry and seeing it as a viable career pathway," Mr Coote said.
"Marlon is wholeheartedly committed to Indigenous produce, as well as ensuring the sustainability of many species and products, and making sure they are available for future generations.
"He has assisted in taking many endangered plants, near on extinction, and created greenhouse environments which have significantly reduced the overall carbon footprint of his practices, and indirectly created a positive effect of the outdoor environment through less cultivation of land. His practices and learnings are consistently passed on to his younger growers each day.
"Marlon is already a leader within his community and is destined to be a future leader within the Australian horticulture industry. I congratulate him on receiving this award."
Mr Coote said the National Awards for Excellence provided an opportunity for the industry to come together, recognised the outstanding achievements of leading growers and industry members, and celebrate the great work that our industry undertook to keep Australia healthy and safe.
"It was more important for the industry to meet up and reconnect with each other this year than ever before after the unprecedented challenges over the last two years due to the pandemic, and it was pleasing that so many people could come together, celebrate the industry's successes and provide support to peers and colleagues," he said.
"Everyone who was nominated for an award this year has demonstrated their passion and commitment to the industry and has made a valuable contribution to its ongoing growth and success."
Among the other national winners, Annaleise and Lachlan Donovan, Qld, were named - Syngenta Grower of the Year; Rien Silverstein, Vic, won the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture Award; Michael Simonetta, Perfection Fresh Australia, NSW, was Hort Innovation Exporter of the Year; Peter Leach, Qld, was Bayer Researcher of the Year; Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Area Wide Management program received the Visy Industry Impact Award; and Sam Kisvarda, Flavorite Group, Vic, won the E.E. Muir & Sons Community Stewardship Award.
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