Erin and Josh Cranwell are 21- and 24-year-old sibling growers from AE Cranwell and Sons in the Hay Valley and Angus Plains regions of South Australia. We profiled them in the March/April 2019 edition of Vegetables Australia magazine.

Fast facts

Name: Erin and Josh Cranwell
Location: Hay Valley and Angus Plains, South Australia
Works: AE Cranwell and Sons
Grows: Brussels sprouts

How did you first become involved in the vegetable industry?

Growing up on a family farm, farm life was a major part of both our childhoods. Most school holidays were spent working for spare change before taking on full-time duties after graduating high school in our respective years.

What are your roles and responsibilities in the business?

Josh: I’m based at our Angus Plains site and my role is primarily based out in the field. Alongside my Dad, activities include organising each season’s plantation to harvesting management and all the upkeep in between, such as watering, spraying and fertilising.

Erin: My role picks up where Josh’s finishes, dealing with the sprouts entering our packaging facility at Hay Valley. As well as co-managing the packaging facilities and day-to-day proceedings, I also look after all the quality assurance.

What are the biggest challenges you face working in the industry?

Aside from growing Brussels sprouts, finding quality labour is a big challenge.

AE Cranwell and Sons are Brussels sprouts specialists. What challenges do you face with growing this particular vegetable?

Brussel sprouts are insect magnets and are prone to developing fungi and bacteria. As insects are becoming resistant to many of the chemical groups that we use, keeping the sprouts clean is proving to be a challenge.

"We get a great deal of satisfaction from growing and supplying the Australian market with fresh produce."

Brussels sprouts can often get a bad rap among consumers. As a grower of this commodity, what is your message to get more Australians to eat Brussels sprouts?

Brussel sprouts are one of nature’s superfoods – they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, folate and glucosinolates that have natural anti-cancer properties. There have never been more ways to introduce Brussels sprouts into the kitchen, whether it’s shredded into your home-baked lasagne, sliced into your favourite stir fry or simply roasted in the oven with diced bacon.

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

We get a great deal of satisfaction from growing and supplying the Australian market with fresh produce. We have great staff, suppliers and customers that help us achieve this and it is a pleasure working with all of them.

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

Growing up with the farm as a large portion of our lives, there have been many influences, but none more than our father, Robert, and our uncle, John. Both have (and continue to) guide us with our involvement in the business as well as motivating us to succeed further.

What new innovations, research and/or practices has your business implemented recently? What are you doing different to other growing operations?

We are spending a lot of time and effort in managing our crop production with less intensive labour.

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

The trend is for healthy living, and that starts with fresh, healthy food. Supplying the growing demand for fresh produce is the opportunity.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still on the farm and continuing to improve an efficiently-grown, high-quality product.

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

There are a lot of factors that influence a crop’s performance, and with today’s technological advances, it has opened a broad range of digital tasks to track and improve those performances. Knowing that farming is not all hard, physical labour over countless long days, but actually an increasingly technological field, would be more enticing to young people.

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: asbCreative