Profile – Daniel Quattrocchi

Q&A – Daniel Quattrocchi

How did you first become involved in the vegetable industry?

It’s in my blood. My great grandfather, grandfather and father were all market gardeners so I’ve been involved since I can remember. We lived on the farm so I always spent lots of time outside helping after school and school holidays, and as soon as I could reach the pedals I was driving the tractor. After Dad passed away, mum said if we were to survive I’d have to be her business partner. I was 12 and mum was a nurse. Now we are Certified Organic growers and wholesalers specialising in packing on-farm for direct supply into Coles and Woolworths in South Australia.

What is your role in the business?

My role in the business is just about everything, from preparing land and planting, to organising the workers for the day both in the field and in the packing shed. I also manage and coordinate all crop programs throughout the year to ensure consistency of supply to all our customers, and I work closely with mum to coordinate the wholesaling side of the business.

How would you describe your average day at work?

I prioritise the day’s work: loading the truck, delivering to Coles’ and Woolworths’ distribution centres, picking up produce coming in from interstate and other supplies needed, ordering produce from other growers, quality control of produce packed, checking paperwork, writing invoices on the computer, record keeping, as well as trying to catch up with various jobs around the farm that need attention. The list goes on and on. The day is always so busy – there’s never a dull moment.

What do you most enjoy about working in the vegetable industry?

I enjoy meeting other growers and the opportunity to visit their farms, exchanging ideas and information. Also travelling overseas visiting farms is a very rewarding experience. (Also) to be able to grow something from seed that will end up on someone’s dinner plate.

What are the biggest challenges that you face as a grower?

Being a certified organic grower, some of the biggest challenges we face are controlling the weeds and the labour cost associated with that. Also the rising costs of inputs like electricity, fertiliser and fuel, mean we have to be very careful with managing our expenses and wastage.

You attended the USA Growers’ Tour at the beginning of this year. What did you learn from the experience?

I learnt that it is very important for the government and the public to realise the need to have food security. In the Yuma Valley in Arizona, the government built a huge canal from the Colorado River through the desert to bring water to the valley so they could produce food through the winter to feed the country.

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

I think schools should be educating children on where their food comes from and organising farm visits. Also, we should be encouraging children to grow veggies at home so they can experience the feeling of growing something that ends up on their dinner plate.

If you weren’t working in the vegetable industry, what would you be doing?

I’d be working on someone else’s farm!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully taking over the business as my Mum would like to step back and not have to work so hard. Out with the old, in with the new, right?