LAKELAND banana grower and developer of Next-Gen compost Peter Inderbitzin has won a prestigious horticulture award on the Atherton Tablelands.
Mr Inderbitzin was announced as the 2018 Charlie Nastasi Horticultural Farmer of the Year winner at a dinner in Mareeba on Friday night.
The FNQ Growers event attracted 300 people including growers and industry representatives.
The award recognises outstanding innovation and or exceptional leadership in the Tableland horticultural industry.
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The other nominees were second-generation lychee grower Tara Gauci-Quintieri and citrus grower Con Iacutone.
Mr Inderbitzin was recognised for his work forging a successful horticultural business in Lakeland, where he arrived in the mid 1980s.
Through back-breaking work forged a successful horticultural business, introducing a number of fruit and vegetable crops including hay, peanuts, corn, various grass seed and legumes, sorghum, watermelons, cotton, sugar cane, potatoes, paw paw and a variety of beans.
About 20 years ago, he decided to grow bananas, a crop traditionally grown on the coast and today the fruit makes up the majority of the family’s farming enterprise.
Mr Inderbitzin has also made a name for himself in compost, and in doing so is helping to reduce the carbon footprint, improve soil health, productivity and create a legacy for future generations.
“The most exciting thing is that we are achieving above average production and our soil is in really good health,” Mr Inderbitzin said.
“It’s paying dividends by boosting production and quality. Our bananas have good colour all year around and sweet taste, our soil health has improved and it is holding onto more nutrients and water.
“We are now pushing hard to show how it has positive affects on the reef by way of less sediment and nutrient run-off.
“The other exciting thing is we are using 60 per cent less chemical fertilisers and our production figures have increased.”
FNQ Growers chair Joe Moro said the evening was a resounding success, with the turnout and fundraising efforts a reflection of the horticultural industry’s value in the local community.
It wrapped up with an auction of locally-produced fruit and vegetables where a record $21,000 was raised for the Mareeba Hospital Foundation.