Jake Shadbolt is a 23-year-old grower from Scotties Point Farms in Beverford, Victoria. We profiled him in the September/October 2018 edition of Vegetables Australia magazine.

Fast facts

Name: Jake Shadbolt
Location: Beverford, VIC
Works: Scotties Point Farms
Grows: Beetroot, broccoli, pumpkin, onions

How did you first become involved in the vegetable industry?

I have been involved in the vegetable industry since I was a six-month-old baby. I spent my early years in the tractor cabin rugged up in blankets while my Grandpa drove the tractor and Mum and Dad picked broccoli. I look back upon photos of me as a child covered in mud, out in the paddock having the time of my life. Right from a very young age, I was always involved in the day-to-day life on the farm. After school, weekends and school holidays I found myself either on a tractor, in the packing shed or checking crops with Dad.

What does your role in the business involve, and what are your responsibilities?

My role in the business now is currently quite broad. I’m involved right throughout the crop production process doing jobs such as ground preparation, planting, irrigation, spraying, fertilising and harvesting. I also have found myself managing the packing shed for our beetroot in winter and onions in summer over the last three years.

What do you enjoy most about working in the vegetable industry and how do you maintain your enthusiasm?

There are so many incredible dimensions to the industry, but what I love most about it is that each day never repeats itself. There are always new challenges, new creative ideas and new solutions. I find myself regularly doing different trades in order to get the jobs done and I love that!

I really maintain my enthusiasm by making sure I get a good work life balance. I was always raised with the family motto of ‘work hard, play harder’. We put in the labour when its required, but when we get the chance to play we really go for it.

What are the biggest challenges you face working in the industry, and how do you overcome them?

The biggest challenge currently facing our business is having good quality staff that have something of value to offer the business. Luckily, we have these people and they are like gold. They work incredibly efficiently and understand the work culture. We have spent a lot of time training, educating and fixing their stuff along the way. But the key to keeping these people on board is to really value them and their input into the business, and make them part of the family.

You attended the Young Grower Industry Leadership and Development Mission in April this year. What were the highlights of this mission?

I had a great time in New Zealand and California; there was so many highlights. The biggest highlight for me was visiting Wilcox Farms in Pukekohe, New Zealand. As a team we had a great tour around their packing shed which was in full operation managing carrots, potatoes and onions. Seeing their shed operations and also hearing their story about their focus on marketing their product was very valuable. They are such a transparent company and were more than happy to tell us about their successes.

"More young people should be involved; the average age of farmers needs to drop. It’s the young people who have the fresh ideas – combine that with the experience of the older generation and that’s where some magic will happen."

Where do you receive your on-farm practice advice and information from?

All my training and knowledge has been passed down from my father, Peter. I was first put on a tractor to drive myself when I was eight years old and haven’t stopped since. From him I’ve really benefited from learning so many skills across varying trades including installing irrigation; mechanical repairs; welding steel; wiring machinery; and especially how to drive straight. I’ve also been asking our agronomist a lot more questions recently about soil and plant health to help understand more about the growing side.

You’re currently involved in Growing Leaders 2018. What have you learnt so far, and why is this program important to the vegetable industry?

Growing Leaders has been incredibly beneficial. I can’t stress it enough that if you’re someone involved in the industry and wanting to grow in your skills as a leader, then this is for you. For me it’s really helped me knuckle down and lead teams efficiently, not chaotically. The industry needs fresh ideas all the time, and this space has been brilliant for this.

Where can you be found when not working on the farm?

When I’m not farming, you’ll find me either racing motocross, waterskiing, snowboarding or jet setting to the other side of the world. I’ve also got a big passion for helping young boys who grow up with no purpose or identity. I coordinate a local youth group in town and volunteer my time at the local high school and am involved in a fantastic program targeting at-risk teenage boys, taking them through a six-month outdoor-based mentor program.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years’ time I hope to be married with some baby farmers kicking around, living the dream. I aim to have taken over the family business, and have it flourishing with nice and efficient systems in place. By then I will have won the Young Grower of the Year award for my contribution to the industry and really kicking some goals to see Australian vegetables in every supermarket across the world.

How do you think more young people and women could be encouraged to study and take up jobs in the vegetable industry?

I think there needs to be a lot more exposure to the greater community of just how exciting this industry is. I have so many people who love it every time I put up photos of my job on social media. There are so many people who lack understanding, and they can only be engaged by being exposed through tours, videos, education and connections. Starting right at the basics in primary school through vegetable gardens, right up to school-based traineeships and university studies targeted to the farms.

You were nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award at Hort Connections. What does this recognition mean to you?

I was incredibly humbled to be nominated this year. It’s always been an award I’ve thought about winning and I was quite shocked when it happened so early into my career. I believe it’s extremely important, and I think even more important than any other award as this is the future of the industry. More young people should be involved; the average age of farmers needs to drop. It’s the young people who have the fresh ideas – combine that with the experience of the older generation and that’s where some magic will happen.

This grower profile first appeared in the leading magazine for the Australian vegetable industry, Vegetables Australia. If you’d like to subscribe to receive a new edition of Vegetables Australia in your mailbox every two months, use our online subscription form!

Photography credit: Studio Red