Young farmers win industry award
Pineapple farmers and siblings Ben Scurr and Courtney Thies of Piñata Farms, Mareeba, Queensland have won the Australian Pineapple Industry's Rudy Wassman Award which recognises pro-active, future leaders.
Ben and Courtney, who grew up farming pineapples in the Paddy's Green district, were recognised at the industry's Golden Circle 2021 Pineapple Field Days in Bundaberg last week. Their father, general manager tropicals Stephen Scurr pioneered pineapple production in north Queensland in 1994, continuing the Scurr family's pineapple-growing legacy which began on the Sunshine Coast in the 1960s.
Ben, 23, and Courtney, 26, both attribute their passion for growing pineapples – and their knowledge – to their father and mentor, Stephen Scurr. The siblings work closely to help manage the Mareeba farm's pineapple operations.
Ben oversees both the harvest and planting operations as field supervisor. When he's not in the field, Ben services and maintains farm vehicles and equipment.
As dispatch and QA officer, Courtney co-ordinates local sales, assesses the quality of fruit and liaises with the sales team to dispatch pineapples. She is also involved in ground preparation during planting season.
A sunny future in pineapples for sibling growers
Ben and Courtney said they were honoured to be recognised by the industry and encouraged more young people to consider a career in farming.
"It's a great feeling to be recognised, especially as a female in a male-dominated field. It's very encouraging to receive support and acknowledgment from other growers and this gives me the drive to continue working hard and achieve more in the future," Courtney said.
"Young people are the next generation in the horticultural industry and the country is going to rely on us continuing to do what our predecessors have done. It's important for young people to be recognised, to inspire others to step up to the plate, spark interest in the farming industry and show it's possible to achieve success at a young age, she said."
Ben said it was a privilege to have his efforts recognised by other growers and farms.
"We (young farmers) are next in line to keep farming going. More younger people in farming means every industry can move forward and keep going in this ever-changing world," he said.
Ben aspires to one day manage the Mareeba farm and become more involved in managing all pineapple production for Piñata Farms.
"I am working my way towards these goals every year," he said.
Courtney hopes to become more involved with the industry as a whole and continue to grow pineapples alongside her brother and father.
"Being part of the family business is a privilege," she said.
The award is in honour of the late Rudy Wassman who is widely credited for modernising the Australian pineapple industry. Originally from Hawaii, the horticulturalist was seconded by Golden Circle Cannery in 1968 and brought with him extensive plantation knowledge for growing pineapples.
His dedication, achievements and industry standing earnt him an OAM for services to the Queensland pineapple industry.
Piñata Farms' managing director Gavin Scurr congratulated Ben and Courntey as well as Stephen Pace of Pace Farming, Rollingstone and outgoing Australian Pineapples chair who was awarded the Col Scott Award for an outstanding contribution to the pineapple industry.