Chris Musolino is a 32-year-old grower from T Musolino & Co in Virginia, South Australia. We profiled him in the May/June 2017 edition of Vegetables Australia magazine.

Fast facts

Name: Chris Musolino
Location: Virginia, South Australia
Works: T Musolino & Co
Grows: Broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower

How did you first become involved in the vegetable industry?

I am a third generation market gardener. It all started on weekends, school holidays and any spare time we had. My father would take us out on the farm to help with tractor work from about the age of 10. As we got older, the jobs became more important. At the age of 16 (against my parents’ advice) I left school to take up my role in the family business, where I now work alongside my father, two brothers, uncles and cousins.

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

My role in this business is Farm Manager. This job entails full responsibility of broccoli and cabbage, from planting right through until harvest. We also grow cauliflower and iceberg lettuce, which is managed by my cousin Paul.

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

I enjoy watching the progression of the plants – you see it start from a seedling to a full grown product. I also enjoy watching the change of the vegetable through the growing cycle. I maintain my enthusiasm by continuously trying to have the highest quality vegetables around.

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

Our biggest challenge is labour – not just the cost of labour, but finding people that are willing to do the hard work required for vegetable picking. We are always looking for ways to make production less labour intensive.

"I enjoy watching the progression of the plants – you see it start from a seedling to a full grown product."

In your opinion, what areas of research are important to the vegetable industry and your business?

For our business, the research we require are the development of new varieties with more tolerance and uniformity to minimise labour, and we also need varieties that will tolerate fluctuating temperatures and still maintain the highest quality produce. I also believe that, for the industry, there should be easier streams for export.

Where do you see opportunities for growth in the Australian vegetable industry?

I see more opportunities for growth through value-adding and export.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years’ time, hopefully we have been able to double the size of production and be able to track exactly where all our produce is sold. We need to find a way to label our fresh produce.

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

One important factor to encourage young people to consider a future in the vegetable industry would be job security, as the food industry is always in demand and sustainable.

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!

Photo credit: asbCreative