Works at: Scotties Point Farms

Jake Shadbolt is a third-generation vegetable grower based in Beverford near Swan Hill in northern Victoria. He currently manages the business, Scotties Point Farms, alongside his father Peter and brother Ryan. Scotties Point Farms was started by Jake’s grandfather in the 1960s and currently produces pumpkin, beetroot, broccoli and onion. In this column, VegNET Regional Development Officer – Dimi Kyriakou catches up with Jake to discuss challenges, business innovation and his thoughts on the industry.

What challenges do you face as a vegetable grower?

Having young, passionate people who are eager and interested in working on a farm to join the business in a permanent role. I am passionate about getting people involved in the horticulture industry, and love to show others what I do in the hope of sparking interest for other people that may lead to a career as a grower.

How do you manage these challenges, or try to overcome them?

A lot of our family is involved in the business, including my cousins. We have also gotten involved in some good industry initiatives such as Alice Zaslavsky’s Hort Heroes videos through the Phenomenom program, which aims to educate kids about how food is grown. It shows how young people can make a career in the vegetable industry and the work opportunities that are available. It’s a very rewarding business and job. I have recently started making a few farming vlogs shared on social media and YouTube in the hope of showing what I get up to from day-to-day.

What new innovations, research and/or practices has your business implemented recently?

We’ve trialled strip tilling to decrease passes through the paddock, reduce the amount of fuel and labour and help productivity in the soil. It still needs some fine tuning, but we’re confident that we’re across the basics.

How do you maintain your disease resistance and ongoing sustainability of the farm?

We use crop rotations because of our land availability. We have also trialled cover cropping, which we’ve stripped for seed and cut for hay to cover the soil over summer. We also have a brilliant agronomist who we work closely with monitoring soil and plant health throughout the growth phases.

In terms of research and development, what do you think is vital to the vegetable industry right now?

Fine tuning some of the technologies that are available. We recently automated our irrigation, which has helped us to water more efficiently and reduce man hours. In the past we would be waking up every few hours during the night to change shifts of water, but now operating from the computer we can set the whole watering schedule and get some great sleep.

Cover image: Jake Shadbolt from Scotties Point Farms.