Seven years ago, Andrew Terry came to a crossroads, keep his day job, or quit, and chase his dream. 

Key points:

  • Northern Tasmanian farmer Andrew Terry has taken home an award at the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards. 
  • Mr Terry has been recognised for Excellence in Diversification.
  • Mr Terry runs cattle, grows crops, and manages a large berry farm across his two properties.  

He and his wife owned an 81-hectare property at Exton in Tasmania’s North, but he spent every day working at a vineyard in the Tamar Valley.

Work on his own farm was relegated to nights and weekends.

But then an offer appeared that was too good to turn down. 

“An opportunity arose in 2014 with a berry company in America to diversify into a berry operation,” Mr Terry said.

“Berries were a nice fit for me because I’ve always been passionate about intensive horticulture.

Diversified enterprise

But he need not have worried.

Since then quitting that vineyard, his business has expanded significantly and now, he has the award for Excellence in Diversification in the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year Awards.

The judges commented that he was a hands-on on his business, encouraging others to visit his enterprise and that he shared his knowledge through grower groups.

“While his focus is in producing outstanding strawberries,  Mr Terry has diversified his enterprise to grow raspberries and blackberries to meet the developing tastes of the consumer,” the award reads. 

“He grows 1,000 tonnes of potatoes, has a contract for pyrethrum, a plant used for insecticides, and he bucket rears dairy calves which are sold as three-year-old beef.”

two rows of green raspberry canes sit inside a plastic tunnel, a concrete path separates them.

Like the rest of Tasmania’s berry industry, Andrew Terry’s business has rapidly expanded over the past 10 years.(

ABC Rural: Luke Radford

)

Riding on the berry’s back

Mr Terry’s decision to grow berries got off to a rocky start when a freak storm wiped out more than half the farm.

“We hadn’t actually grown a berry yet, we had 10 hectares of polytunnels and a windstorm came through and flattened 6 hectares,” he said.

“So, before we’d grown anything, we’d lost 60 per cent of the business.”

But rather than be put off by this baptism of fire, Mr Terry chose to commit 100 per cent to rebuild the operation.

One of the biggest challenges was building a team of workers to help manage the vastly different parts of his operation.

“For me, there was a realisation three years ago that we were in that almost corporate space with our organisational structures.”

“I’ve got a couple of good guys on the ground that take care of the livestock and the cropping because realistically over 90 per cent of my time is in the berries.”

A man in  a red shirt examines a raspberry bush, the bush is in a large plastic tunnel.

Andrew Terry enjoys all parts of his farming enterprise, but his true passion lies with his berries.(

ABC Rural: Lachlan Bennett

)

Award ‘quite humbling’

For Mr Terry, the award was an unexpected joy, but also a strong endorsement of running a diverse agricultural business.

“It’s quite humbling really, I wasn’t expecting it at all and I’m very grateful to be receiving the award,” he said.

“A diverse operation reduces your risk profile. You don’t want to be jack-of-all master-of-none, but you don’t want to rely on just one commodity.

“If the last 12 months has taught us anything, we need to be spread across a few different things.”

On the berry’s back: Persistence and diversity pays off for Tasmanian farmer Andrew Terry
Source:
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