Matt Hood, director of Rugby Farms, Gatton, named AUSVEG Farmer of the Year.
Matt Hood, director of Rugby Farms, Gatton, named AUSVEG Farmer of the Year. Dave Noonan

Director of Rugby Farms named grower of the year

LOCKYER Valley producer and long-term Coles supplier Matt Hood has been named Ausveg Grower of the Year.

The award recognises outstanding produce, business practices and contribution to the horticulture industry.

Mr Hood, director of Rugby Farms based in the Lockyer Valley, received the award in front of more than 1000 of his industry peers at the recent 2013 Ausveg National Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner at Jupiters Gold Coast.

Rugby Farms has been Coles' corn supplier since 1998 and has since grown to become one of Australia's largest growers of both corn and beans.

Coles' Queensland general manager Mark Scates congratulated Mr Hood on receiving the prestigious award.

"Matt Hood is an outstanding grower and during the past 15 years, we've been delighted to supply our customers in Queensland with corn, beans, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, watermelon, wombok and baby corn grown on Rugby Farm," Mr Scates said.

"Rugby Farm is also part of our import replacement program, which has meant working with Matt directly to ensure our baby corn comes from Australia rather than Asia, where it was traditionally grown."

With a family history stretching back 100 years, Rugby Farm operates across Queensland, with key growing areas in the Lockyer Valley and Bowen.

The Grower of the Year award commends outstanding achievement across all aspects of vegetable and potato production, including growing, environmental management, staff management and quality of produce.

Recipients are innovative, challenge convention, implement efficient practices on-farm and actively engage with the wider industry.

Coles works with nearly 400 farmers and food manufacturers in Queensland, providing local businesses with opportunities to grow through longer-term contracts that give them the certainty to invest, expand and generate new products.

Ausveg is the leading horticulture body representing the interests of 9000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.