Gippsland’s ‘king of salad’ wins 2017 Australian Farmer of the Year award

SUBSCRIBE to our fortnightly e-newsletter to receive more stories like this. Australian Farmer of the Year 2017, Andrew Bulmer, runs a successful salad-vegetable growing enterprise from his family farm in the Lindenow Valley, in Victoria's East Gippsland region.

Horticultural producer and family man Andrew Bulmer, from Lindenow in Victoria’s Gippsland region, has netted the prestigious 2017 Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year award for his innovative approach to farming and business acumen.

“The Australian Farmer of the Year, 37-year-old Andrew Bulmer, the ‘king of fresh salads’, manages a successful family-run fresh-salad-greens enterprise out of the fertile Lindenow Valley near Bairnsdale, in Victoria’s East Gippsland region

At the annual awards ceremony in the national capital, Canberra, on 16 August, Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, MP, praised all eight Farmer of the Year award-winners for their contributions to agriculture and regional Australia.

“Andrew puts his family farm’s success down to hard work and the efficiencies gained through the successful early adoption of new harvest and post-harvest technologies,” Mr Chester said.

“Events like this are important, and innovators like Andrew Bulmer are setting a great example for the people of regional Australia and those involved in the agricultural sector.”

From dairy cows to salad greens

Originally, the Bulmers ran dairy cattle, switching to vegetable-growing nearly four decades ago in 1989. Today the farm grows cos and iceberg lettuce, broccoli and various babyleaf varieties and encompasses nine separate properties across the Valley, totalling around 400 hectares.

“Bulmer Farms’ farming footprint has grown due to our expansion into new regions and our focus on setting up the enterprise as a farm-of-the-future,” Bulmer explains.

“To achieve this, we needed to implement the key knowledge and learnings gained over the decades, as well as incorporating world’s best practice and the innovation available right now.”

Bulmer has made significant gains in efficiency across the business, he says, by implementing world’s best harvest and post-harvest technology.

“Our washing and drying process has enabled us to achieve a dryer product,” he says. “This has increased shelf life and opened up export opportunities through our marketing business, Green Acres Australia.

“We have also brought a new harvester from the United States, which has increased our efficiency at harvest, giving us a better product to run through our washline.”

Bulmer has overseen a 400 percent increase in his farm’s washed-salad business in just 18 months,” noted Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, at the awards ceremony.

“Like so many farmers, Andrew has been looking for new technologies and thinking outside the box to improve his business,” Mr Joyce said.

Excellence in Innovation award-winner Rob Cook: new tools for disabled farmers

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce also congratulated 36-year-old Rob Cook, this year’s winner of the Excellence in Innovation award. Cook, a fourth-generation beef-cattle farmer from Bucca, Queensland, developed smart new practices to help him continue farming following a devastating ’copter crash.

“Rob, who is a quadriplegic, dug deep and created a world-first electric hydraulic joystick control, enabling him to operate the block gate and all five way-drafts in his cattle yards,” Mr Joyce said.

“This is an ingenious example of innovation and has allowed Rob to stay on the land, farming 700-head of black Brangus cattle over three properties.”

All Australian Farmer of the Year award-winners for 2017

  • Australian Farmer of the Year: Andrew Bulmer, Victoria;
  • Young Farmer of the Year: Jason Smith, Victoria;
  • Farming Legend of the Year: John Bennett, Tasmania;
  • Rural Community Leader of the Year Award: Kristy Sparrow, Queensland;
  • Rural Consultant of the Year: Greg Mills, New South Wales;
  • Excellence in Innovation: Rob Cook, Queensland;
  • Excellence in Technology: Lachlan Seears, South Australia; and
  • Excellence in Diversification: James Walker, Queensland.

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